The practice of exhibiting dolls at homes in Mysore during Dasara seems to be on the rise.
Mysore boasts of this rich tradition, which can be traced back to the Vijayanagar Empire. However, the tradition was dying with younger generations lacking interest in celebrating ‘Gome Habba’ (Festival of Dolls).
But, thanks to competitions and attractive prizes for the best display of dolls in the recent years, people are taking a special interest. Colourful dolls are collected and assembled in an aesthetic manner to celebrate the festive season. The display is arranged in nine steps to coincide with nine days of the festival.
Gayathri Shankar, who has been practicing the tradition for two decades, says, “The contests for doll exhibition have spurred the revival of this tradition. Doll exhibitions can now be seen in more households in Mysore”. Eager kids help their mothers in adorning ‘Pattada Gombe’ (Raja Rani dolls) and help in building the platform for arranging them.
Ms. Shankar has displayed a variety of colourful dolls, including a pair which she claims to be two centuries old, at Rangayana, which is hosting the Navarathri Rangotsava. Over 2,000 dolls are on display at the show. She has been holding the doll show at Rangayana since the last nine years.
Every year, new models are added to the show.
This year’s special arrangement is a miniature model of the Krishnaraja Sagar dam.
Most dolls are made of either wood or clay, a testament to the times when the city had many potters and clay artisans.
The idols of gods and goddesses usually take centre stage in doll shows.
Ramsons Kala Prathistana, which works on preserving and nurturing the crafts and cultural traditions, launched ‘Bombe Mane’, an exhibition of dolls to revive an interest in the tradition. Started in 2005, the expo displays thousands of dolls from across India.
Bombe Mane also played a central role in reviving the tradition as a variety of dolls are made available under one roof for those wishing to celebrate ‘Gombe Habba’.