Mysore / Bengaluru Nazarbad is a picturesque locality, about two kilometers from the famous Mysuru Palace illuminated in its glory, with most of its inhabitants sitting on the roads, no wider than 10 feet, chatting with neighbors. In the midst of a power outage in the area, a building stands out in the dark: Bomb Mane or the Dollhouse.
Every Dasara, a festival held in the state since the days of the Maharajas to celebrate the victory of Goddess Durga over demons, the unique art of dolls representing the rich heritage of Indian culture comes to life. Customers take their time in this boutique, dazzled by the bright colors and collection of crafts on display.
“The cultivation of dolls began during the Vijayanagar Empire and entered Mysore (now Mysuru) after Raja Wodeyar ascended to the throne in 1610,” RG Singh, Ramsons Kala Pratishtana secretary, told Hindustan Times. leads the Bomb Mane.
An original Rajput, Singh’s ancestors were brought to Mysuru by the 18th century ruler Tipu Sultan. He is one of several important small groups that represent the rich cultural heritage of Karnataka.
Dasara or Bomb dolls are commonplace in most households in Karnataka, especially during the ten days of Dasara. The main dolls of the festival are a pair of a husband and wife and figurines of various deities. This festive display of dolls is known as Golu.
Each family or individual chooses a theme or set to display with a mix of deities, people in different professions, and a doll from one of the different mythologies.
Singh said that different festivals support different types of occupations, such as buying agricultural products during Sankranti. He said that the Habba Bomb (doll festival) supports the artisans and pot makers involved in their making.
“Back in my grandmother’s time, we didn’t have the kind of ready-made foldable ‘steps’ you find on the market today. So I remember my mom and grandmother using whatever was available at home to build the steps – which always had to be odd numbers – like bricks, books, boards, etc. They would then start by keeping the kalasam (metal pot) first. , followed by the Bommais marapaachi (rosewood dolls), then arrange the other dolls, of which the dasavatharam ensemble and the old Chettiyar couple was a must, ”said Nithyashri Govind, a retired schoolteacher, who religiously celebrates the festival.
She added that there was a culture to sow mustard seeds either on the ground on a leaf or a tray and watch the seeds grow in the grass during that time. “Once the ‘meadow’ was ready, we would add sand and make a small pond and add animal figures to it. After I got married, my sister-in-law started to keep a more elaborate setup and would even choose particular scenes from the Ramayana etc. as the theme of this year’s Golu, ”she added.
“These toys represent the culture of the people they worship, including occupations, deities and reenactments of historical events,” said NV Narasimaiah, a historian based in Bengaluru.
There is also a culture of buying a pair of King and Bride dolls, in order to keep in touch with royalty and the prosperous past of their homes and pass the legacy on to the next generation.
However, over the years, different styles of doll and model making have infiltrated the culture, allowing the mainstream industry and its practitioners to maintain their way of life.
Singh said there was a factory where their store is located today as they were forced to move their manufacturing operations to a residential area.
The story goes that Tipu Sultan had moved his palace when he took the head of Mysuru and created a Mint in this locality, known as “Nazarbad”, which means gold in Persian.
Historians attribute the introduction of various styles of doll making to Tipu Sultan, who imported them from Persia. However, there is no documented evidence to show the connection.
These included the famous Channapatna toys, which now have a global market. Professor Narasimhaiah said that although there is a varied version of Tipu’s contribution to this art form, it is clear that the 18th century ruler of Mysore “did not destroy the doll cult”.