In the Southern Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, Dussehra is an occasion to decorate the house with wooden and clay figures of dolls. ‘Bombe habba’ or the Doll Festival is an occasion to mark and respect the sacrifice of the gods and goddesses who gave away their powers to Goddess Durga as she fought the demon Mahishasura. Powerless, they stood as statues. And, so, started the tradition of worshipping the sacrifice – a custom that traces back to the Vijayanagara Empire and one that has been carefully nurtured and carried over many generations.
The family collection of ‘Golu’ dolls, including those of gods and goddesses, kings and saints, modern day leaders, and of common folk is painstakingly built over years and decades, some dolls more than a century old. Over the nine days of Navratras, the dolls arranged over an odd number of tiers or steps are worshipped. It is an occasion for family and friends to get together and to introduce our culture and mythology to the younger generations.
If in Bengaluru, head to Malleshwaram (2nd temple street), Jayanagar 4th block or Gandhi Bazaar markets to admire the different dolls and sets and perhaps, even pick up some Golu dolls for your collection. You can also admire the Golu doll arrangements during Navratras at Dhaatu, Bimba Art Ashram (photography is not allowed, it is advisable to call and confirm the timings of your visit) or if you are lucky, at homes in your own neighbourhood.
Here are a few glimpses of the fascinating dolls from Bengaluru homes and markets this year.
All images: Gitika Saksena