This ain't no kids' play!

A mantap decorated using coconut fronds. DH photos by Prashant H G

Bombe Mane has just opened its doors to visitors and the caretakers are beginning to arrange dolls. Visitors are trickling in and persons at the counter are setting up their bill books for the day in order.

Suddenly, in a basement which houses over 3,000 dolls, someone hears the bluster of a walkie-talkie approaching them. On turning around, they find a traffic cop in his early 50s walking into the premises. Just as everyone is quickly remembering if they had parked their vehicle on the wrong side of the road, the cop demands to see the shop owner.

His grouse is not about the vehicles as predicted, but about the dolls of Tirupati Venkateshwara and Goddess Padmavati. “Please arrange them properly,” he almost demands, when one realises the Goddess is on the left side of Lord Ventakeshwara, while she should ideally be on the right. R G Singh, the man behind the show which has turned into talk of the town for many years now, apologises and asks one of the attendants to place the dolls in order.

Call it Bombe or doll if you want to, they sure evoke many feelings among those who see them.

For kids, it’s the colours and unconventional (or so un’Leo Mattel’ish) patterns, and shapes that are uneven and hence so human, that catch their attention. For elders, it is the piece of childhood they are so excited to share with their children and grand children.

For R G Singh of Pratima Art Gallery, dolls are serious topics of study. For, the kind of hardwork he puts in to create a theme subsequent year. This year has been no different, either. He and his team, along with his curator Raghu, have strived hard to create Daivasthana with ‘Nava Durgaa’ (nine Durgas) as one sees them in coastal Karnataka.

The design is a replica and recreated to the last detail. There are theme-based paintings on masks of different holy spirits (or Bhootas), which are revered in Dakshina Kannada, along with prominent colours used in Vesha (the characterisation eponymous with the name of the spirit that is embodied in them).

Sturdy Durgas, carved out of jackfruit tree stem seated on platforms, are inside the Mantapa, that is decorated using coconut frond, mango festoons, areca flowers lined with red coconuts in the upper part. The ‘Guttu Mantapa’ was recreated over three days by a team led by artist from Palimaru, called Padmanabha.

There are also brass masks of Dhoomavati and other deities, used around the Mantapa.

This apart, this year’s attraction is in creating miniature versions of K R Circle and Chamaraja Circle. If you have known Mysore well, and think both these circles are alike, here’s a small information. While Chamaraja circle in front of Amba Vilas Palace is square, KR circle is hexagonal in shape. So, by now, you know, it’s no kids’ play, really!!

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