Display of Dasara dolls prevalent in Kolar

Navaratri tales

Navaratri is a time for faith and devotion. However, in recent times rituals and festivities have overshadowed the significance of Navaratri. The glorious tradition of Dasara dolls is slowly vanishing.

Dolls arranged for the Dasara festivities in the residence of K P Rameshmurthy and K Srimathi of Karanjikatte in Kolar. DH Photo

For families steeped in tradition Navaratri is an occasion to arrange a variety of dolls in display and conduct pooja. In Kolar too, many families are now engaged in observing this tradition.

For many people in the neighbourhood, especially children, it is a joy to visit the houses and look at these dolls.

Over the years, Bombe Mane (the house of dolls) or Bombe Habba has become part of Dasara legacy.

During the festival, generations of dolls come out of their dusty shelves to adorn their place on the steps where they are worshipped. Some of the dolls are passed down from generation to generation.

Although many have collected their dolls through generations, some have started to create themes for their ‘golu’ or bombe to add more to their collection.

Historically, it is believed that the tradition of exhibiting dolls came around when kings wanted to give artists a chance to display their works. These dolls silently tell stories from the epics such as Sri Krishna Leela, Girija Kalyana, Geetopadesha, Gajendramoksha, Jambusavari, Dashavatara to name a few.

The dolls are kept in a staircase formation. Makeshift ‘padis’(steps) are made and the dolls are kept on them. Usually they are kept in three, seven, nine, eleven, or thirteen steps. Dolls representing animals and birds are kept on the last step. Rising above it on the next step are dolls representing old men and women along with those of soldiers.

Incarnations of Vishnu

Up further are dolls of rishis (saints). Still above are dolls representing avatars or incarnations of Lord Vishnu such as Rama and Krishna. Then comes Lakshmi and Saraswathi. The dolls which are arranged on Mahalaya Amavasya is kept for 10 days.

In the residence of K P Rameshmurthy and K Srimathi Dasara dolls are being displayed in nine rows since October 16. Pooja is performed everyday. The dolls displayed in the nine rows include Dashavatara, Trimurthi, Ashtalakshmi, various gurus and wooden toys.

Traditionally, savouries are made as prasada for the bombe like  kodubale, nippattu and chakli are made every day.

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