Bengaluru homes dolled up

This Navaratri, some people are revisiting traditional tales from the epics through unique displays

Veena Ravi with dolls from her 'Glories of Vrindavan' collection.

With Navaratri here, Bengalureans are setting up the traditional doll displays. While some simply want to showcase their collection, others are opting for themes ranging from stories from holy books to the Mysuru Dasara to even dolls of the Buddha. 

Suma Shivakumar’s collection includes
Buddha dolls from various countries.

Suma Shivakumar, a homemaker from RPC Layout, Vijayanagar, has a collection of 3,000 dolls and has been following the tradition for 30 years.

The highlight of her collection this year is that she has displayed Buddha dolls from various countries. “I follow a particular theme every year. This year I have showcased Buddha dolls from across the globe, to show how Buddhism has spread in several countries. These dolls are from Nepal, Indonesia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, China and Cambodia,” she says.

She has also displayed several episodes from the Mahabharata and 34 stories from the Ramayana, through her dolls. “They depict dancing styles, state costumes, marriages and temples from different states,” says Suma. 

Veena Ravi, vice principal of CB Bhandari Jain High School, and resident of Basavangudi, has explored the theme ‘Glories of Vrindavan’. A total of 5,000 dolls are exhibited over two floors of her house.

“My family and I visited Vrindavan in July and stayed there for a week. We appreciated the simple life that people led there and the many places that were connected to Lord Krishna’s

Dr Padmapriya's collection is based on the 'Valmiki Ramayana'.

life. We jotted down these points and used them in the display,” she says.

She has a replica of the famed Prem Mandir (a Hindu temple) in the display. “We made it with thermocol. For depicting ‘Rasaleela’, we used some dolls bought from Vrindavan,” she says.

There are around 300 dolls in her collection this year pertaining to this theme. The display also includes dolls resembling Yakshagana and Kathakali performers. There are dolls made out of porcelain, wood and paper mache, some going up to five feet in height.

Enter the house of Dr Padmapriya K, resident of Thyagarajanagar, and you can see dolls displayed in the theme of ‘Valmiki Ramayana’.

Dolls showcase in 55 scenes from the seven ‘kandas’ of the Ramayana. “There are more than 100 dolls displayed here. These dolls are from Bengaluru, Kanchipuram, Madurai, Kumbhakonam and other places. I’ve been collecting dolls for this theme for more than 10 years,” she says.

Most visitors have appreciated her representation of the ‘Sundara kanda’. “My collection hopes to inspire youngsters to keep this tradition alive,” she says.

Sights of Mysuru at the doll
collection by K Ranganath

Ranganath K and K Manjula, residents of Rajarajeshwari Nagar, have displayed around 30 doll sets around the themes of Mysuru and Ramayana.  

There are replicas of Chamundi Hills, Mysuru Palace and Krishna Raja Sagar Dam as well as scenes from Krishna Leela displayed in the ‘gollu’.

“We have been setting up the doll display for 30 years now but this is the first time we are focussing on a theme. We took the help of artistes to set up the KRS Dam replica, while we bought a Mysuru Palace miniature from our visit to the palace,” he says. 

Ranjani Srinivasan, a HR professional and resident of HBR Layout, has displayed over 150 dolls this time.

“My collection is over 10 years old. The left hand side of the display is dedicated to Krishna Leela, with scenes like Vasudeva crossing Yamuna with baby Krishna, Krishna stealing the clothes of ‘gopis’ while they were bathing, and killing his uncle Kansa,” she says.

Vijayalakshmi Regret Iyer with a
6-feet tall Venkateswara idol,
which is part of this year's display.

Ranjani Srinivasan's collection 
showcased 'Krishna Leela'
and stories from Ramayana.

The right side of the display is dedicated to the Ramayana, and shows scenes like Rama going into exile, the boatman Guha offering to help Rama cross the Sarayu river and Hanuman getting Sanjeevani to save Lakshmana.

“The last row of the doll display showcases our culture. It shows a south Indian wedding, a traditional south Indian feast, a baby shower function as well as life in the village,” adds Ranjani.

Vijayalakshmi Regret Iyer, a resident of Thyagarajnagar, has a collection of 3,000 dolls, made from mud, wood, shells, steel, silver and other metals. This year’s highlights include

tracing the history of Dasara from 1610, when it was celebrated in Srirangapatna, to the present day celebrations. Her collection also includes a six-feet tall, traditionally decorated Venkateswara idol.

The display also includes a Lakshminarayana doll which is 366 years old and 32 sets of 250-year old ‘Pattada gombe’ (royal dolls). It also has 25 different types of idols of deities which have ‘navaratnas’ in them. 

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