Kolabou or Nabapatrika is the worship of nine plants, an important ceremony in Durga Puja
. This ceremony takes place on the ‘saptami’ (7th day after new moon). The origin of this ceremony dates back to ancient times when idol worship was less prevalent. People used to worship nine special plants during autumn in the hope of getting successful harvest. In the later periods, as more and more people took to idol worship the Nabapatrika ceremony became a part of the Durga Puja.
The modern version of Nabapatrika ceremony is small scale, just a fraction of its grandeur in the ancient times. An idol of Nabapatrika is constructed by tying the branches of nine plants with yellow threads and the twigs of a white colored plant called ‘aparajita’. The plants represent an individual deity in Hinduism; namely the banana plant (Goddess Brahmani), colacassia plant (Goddess Kalika), turmeric plant (Goddess Durga), Jayanti tree (Goddess Kartiki), wood-apple tree (Lord Shiva), pomegranate tree (Goddess Raktadantika), arum plant (Goddess Chamunda), rice plant (Goddess Lakshmi) and ashoka tree (Goddess Shokarahita). This symbolic idol is given a ceremonial bath using the waters from 8 different holy places. This ritual is performed amidst holy chants and music.
Following the bathing ritual, the idol is attired with a white saree having a red border. Vermillion is applied on the leaves. The idol is given the status of a goddess. Goddess Nabapatrika, as the idol is now called, is placed on the right side of the idol of Lord Ganesh and is considered as his wife. She is given offerings of sandalwood paste, flowers and incense sticks.