October marks the beginning of festive season. Whether it is in the North or South part of our country, people celebrate various festivals at this time of the year , which are similar to each other in many ways.
Being from North and staying only in that part of India , I never had the privilege to witness full-fledged festivity of South.
Recently visiting a colleague from down South, during Navratri, l witnessed the beautiful doll figurine display at there place. Also known as Bommai kolu/Bommai Golu/Bombe Habba in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, this display marks the celebration of Navratri.
The way the beginning of Navratri , the first day of fasting is celebrated with Maa Shailputri (daughter of the Mountain king), similarly the the doll display marks the first day and begins with Mahalaya and continues till Vijayadshmi.
Bommai Kolu in Tamil means Divine Presence, in Telgu Bommala Koluvu means Court of Toys, and Bombe Habba means Doll festival. And I was able witness and feel the presence of all three.
A beautiful display of dolls depicting various Gods on a wooden rack of odd numbered shelves. The one I saw was a rack of 9 shelves using wooden planks of equal size, which could be fitted in any order, these planks were called Kolu or Padi, which also means steps.
Further these steps were covered with fabric and then adorned with various dolls. The meter sight of these idols transported me to my childhood. The way we made a doll house and played ghar -ghar.
The display also highlighted the day to day activities of a common household of India. The lady of the house had very beautifully and meticulously placed these dolls, and preserving them with utmost care over the period of almost 18 YEARS. She had also kept her daughter’s toys collected over years , from a toddler to a teenager now.
In South India , bride is presented with Marapacchi Bommai by her parents as a part of Wedding trousseau to initiate the yearly tradition of’ Navratri Golu’, in her new home with her husband. Which takes place every year during Navratri.
For me it was a lifetime experience, as well for my 6 year old. The beautiful bright coloured dolls depicting Durga , Laxmi and Saraswati. Ganesha as well as Buddha sharing the same dias with playful Krishna and reserve Rama.
Ten Avatars of Vishnu ,almost similar to Darwin’s theory of evolution. Beautifully depicting evolution of various Avatars, from Matsya (fish), koorma (tortoise),varaha (boar),Narshimha (human lion),Vamana (dwarf), Parasurama (angry man),Lord Rama (perfect man), Lord Krishna (divine statesman),Balarama (elder brother of Krishna) and Kalki (mighty warrior).These are Avatars which have time and again according to Hindu mythology, have come to save the mortals on earth.
Overall it was thrilling and an educative visit to a glimpse of India , which is so beautiful and culturally rich .