When dolls are decked...

Beautiful 'Bombes'
Last Updated 13 October 2010, 11:51 IST

It’s Dasara time once again and various communities in the City are celebrating the festival in their own style.

In South, the festivity starts with the arrangement of dolls popularly known as Bombe Habba, Bombe Koorisodu or Bommala Kolu. Passed on from generation to generation, the festival is accompanied by pujas, story-telling and of course, food.

But the highlight still remains the display of dolls made from clay, wood and even Plaster of Paris. Says Suja Kumar, a home-maker, “Bombe Habba can be celebrated only if the dolls are handed over by the elders of the family. The first pair of dolls is received on the wedding day from one’s mother or mother-in-law and then on, the collection of dolls starts.

And every year, after Amavasya, the arrangement begins and guests are invited to view them for ten days,” she adds.  For her daughter Keerthi, a sixth standard student, the festival is all about fun and excitement.  In fact, Suja finds her daughter more interactive during this time.

“More than the religious aspect of it, I find the festival very interactive because we get a good reason to come together as family and plan out the arrangement and decide which doll sits where. It is a lot of fun,” adds Keerthi.

While there are traditional ways of arranging dolls, many families bring in their creative streaks by adding a theme to the arrangement. It can either be the dashavathara of Lord Vishnu or the various activities of a market. For Anandi Rajan, who has been keeping dolls for almost 18 years, the habba is a chance showcase her creativity.

“More than mud dolls, I like buying celluloid dolls from the streets. I also make different clothes every year and even make little accessories,” says Anandi, whose theme
this year is fountains and Little Mermaid.

Kamala, a music teacher, feels themes are a good way of bringing out one’s personality. “There are no restrictions. Since I teach Carnatic music, I made it a point to bring out that aspect by placing idols of great composers. And I gave an entire step to my grandchildren, who arranged it with the Cinderella theme,” she adds.

But for many, this art seems to be losing its charm. With the hustle-bustle of City life, many youngsters don’t take much heed to the tradition.  That’s why Kamala, who had not celebrated Gombe Habba for many years, made it a point to celebrate it this year so that her grandchildren get a feel of it.

“It’s a pity that many youngsters are missing out on the importance of the festival.” “Traditionally, this festival is a platform for youngsters to showcase their talents. Kids would come and see the dolls, sing, dance and also eat snacks. Now people are not all that active. But some of us must attempt to keep it alive,” she says.

Agrees Mythali Ramesh, who has been following the tradition for the past six years. Despite being a working woman, Mythali makes sure she finds time to arrange the dolls every Navratri. “I love celebrating this festival because it gives me immense satisfaction when the arrangements come out well. Plus I get to enjoy the festive atmosphere of people coming home and taking Tamboolam. It’s also a time to meet and greet people which I normally do not get time for.”

(Published 13 October 2010, 11:51 IST)

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