When dolls talk proverbs

A theme this Dasara sees doll arrangement that depicts Kannada proverbs. The idea belongs to a Bengaluru resident, Seethalakshmi Rao.

Seethalakshmi Rao, a resident of Bengaluru, arranged dolls based on Kannada proverbs this Dasara.

On Dasara eve, dolls are brought down from the attic and are arranged along the wooden steps set up for them. Then there’s Gombe Bagina. Children are called home to see the doll display and receive return gifts like snacks, sweets etc. 

Generally, these dolls depict stories and scenes from the Indian epics like Ramayana, Mahabharata and Dashavathara. But this Dasara has seen a home in Bengaluru where dolls spelled Kannada proverbs.  

The theme and the home belongs to Seethalakshmi Rao, who lives on Bannerghatta Road. She specialised in software engineering, and is now self-employed and volunteers to guide government high-school and college students in choosing career. Her interest in Kannada literature has also pushed her to study the Epigraphy and Halagananda course from Thi Nam Shree Pratishthan.

“During exams, I teach Kannada proverbs to my children. But they don’t retain them or know where and how to use them. I thought of teaching them effectively and so, this Dasara, I arranged my dolls based on Kannada proverbs,” Seethalakshmi explains. 

She remembers that her father and materal aunts, from rural Mandya, used Kannada proverbs every day. “We seem to have forgotten them. My intention is to recollect them and share them among the next generation,” says Seethalakshmi. Photos of her arrangements have also gone viral.

“I had listed 75 proverbs. I ended up using 35 for the arrangement. And I used the dolls already with me. I bought only a potter doll additionally. My children helped me complete the arrangement,” she shares. 

Popular Kannada proverbs like ‘Uppigintha Ruchi Illa, Tayigintha Bandhuvilla,’ (No taste like that of salt, and no relative like mother), ‘Haasige Iddashtu Kaalu Chachu’ (Know your resources), ‘Rogi Bayasiddu Halanna, Vaidya Heliddu Halanna’ (The doctor prescribes what the patient wants), ‘Kumbaranige Varusha, Donnege Nimisha’ (Efforts of a potter can be soiled within seconds) etc have been depicted. 

“I have had many visitors this year. I felt happy when Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam-speaking visitors shared these proverbs in their languages,” she smiles.  Every year, Seethalakshmi’s theme changes. There have been themes of public festivals, Olympics, solar power plant, Swachh Bharat Abhiyan etc. In a depiction, she has brought to life all the landmarks between Basavanagudi and Malleshwaram.

Her mother, too, loves arranging dolls. She has even recreated, with the help of dolls, the kidnapping of actor Rajkumar by Veerappan. “We take into account the important themes of that year,” Seethalakshmi adds. 

Collecting miniatures is Seethalakshmi’s hobby, and she has a collection of mud toys from Tamil Nadu, Channapatna, Kinnala, dolls from Rajasthan, Varanasi, Chitrakala Parishath etc.

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