Reviving a tradition

Reviving a tradition

Dolls have always fascinated many people across generations as they seem to appear life-like. Unlike other festivals, Dasara has a strong bonding with dolls. Arranging dolls for the 10-day festival is a custom that has stood the test of time. The dolls are arranged and exhibited on a stepped platform which has an odd number of steps and usually covered with a white or light coloured cloth. Many households use nine steps for the exhibition of dolls to signify the Navaratri festival. The dolls are ritually worshipped during the celebrations.

The main dolls of the festival are known as pattada gombe, a pair of dolls depicting  husband and wife. The pattada gombe pair is a set of traditional dolls made from wood. These dolls are dressed colourfully using paper or silk cloth in a traditional style. The pattada gombe is normally handed over to a daughter by her parents
during her marriage. They are presented to the bride with an intention to continue the tradition.

Culturally aware
Generally, the first step of the platform is reserved for miniature idols or dolls
of gods and goddesses. The idols of deities Durga, Lakshmi, Saraswati are used in this festival. The legacy still continues in various parts of the State such as old
Mysuru and Malnad.

Interestingly, schools have shown interest in informing children about the rich heritage of Dasara festival. Poornaprajna Education Centre, Bhadravathi is one among them. The school organises doll exhibition to create awareness about the significance of the practice among children. This year the students were asked to bring their favourite dolls for the exhibition. Teachers also brought dolls from their collection and arranged them in an order in one of the classrooms. Dolls of kings, queens, several deities, elephants, horses, boys, girls, boat and bullock carts have been displayed in the school.

Vijayalakshmi, principal of nursery section of the school said, “We did it to inform children about the Dasara festival and its history. We felt that children would understand any topic better through images. So, we decided to tell them the history of Dasara festival and its association with Mysuru and the State through dolls. Each student studying in UKG was asked to speak a few lines about the doll which she/he brought from home and about Dasara as well. We would carry on this activity in future also.”

Several households in B B Street, Gandhi Bazar, Jayanagar, Vinobanagar, Gopala, Panchavati colony and in other parts of Shivamogga city have been keeping the dolls for the past several years with immaculate enthusiasm. Many organisations including Pratibha Ranga are playing a key role in keeping the Dasara dolls tradition alive by organising competitions every year.

People are leaving no stone unturned to make their dolls attractive. In fact, the preparations begin a month in advance. They arrange beautiful dolls in an order in their houses as part of the tradition. Some decorate the wooden dolls with jewellery. The themes of the doll exhibition  range from environment conservation to farming.

Ranjani Dattatri, Secretary of Sri Lalitha Mahila Okkuta, said they have been organising Dasara doll competitions for the past several years with the sole intention of continuing the tradition and also helping the current generation to know the rich cultural heritage of the land. “We invite entries from women to participate in the Noda Banni Dasara competition. A team would visit the houses of these participants to see the arrangement of dolls and prizes would be given to the best five. Each participant would get a certificate. Apart from this, we ask women to bring pattada gombe to a designated place in the city where they have to decorate the dolls on the spot within the stipulated time,” she said.

With various activities like these being conducted across the State, the traditions of Dasara will continue to be preserved down the line.

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