Amid hundreds of dolls that occupied every possible space at the house of Bhanumathi S. in T.Nagar, it was a pair of unassuming ‘chettiar' dolls that caught the fancy of the judges. The pair, unlike other ‘chettiar' dolls that are surrounded by a display of pulses, was placed behind little baskets with vegetables which were categorised based on their vitamin content.

“They are health-conscious ‘‘chettiar' dolls. ” said Ms. Bhanumathi, who was adjudged the ‘Grand Winner' of ‘The Hindu Downtown Kolu Kondattam 2010' at the award ceremony here on Thursday. With her experience in the field of special education, the 70-year-old winner conceptualised one part of her kolu in a unique way. She displayed dolls depicting seven areas of intelligence and those that teach simple mathematics and science for kids.

“It is impressive to look at the amount of work that goes into making of such kolu. Navaratri is an occasion to get together with friends and relatives. Kolu brings out the creative streak in women,” said Carnatic musician Sudha Ragunathan, who presented the awards. The top three winners from five areas – Mylapore, Anna Nagar, Adyar, T. Nagar and Tambaram – were also felicitated at the function. While D. Harigopal won the first price in Anna Nagar, B. Shanthi from Tambaram, Sujatha Narayanan from T. Nagar, Bharath Rani from Mylapore and Deepa Rajesh from Adyar were the first-prize winners in their zones. The contest had nearly 300 entries, of which 50 were shortlisted. A panel of judges visited the houses of the contestants and judged their kolu based on a string of criteria, including arrangement of dolls, attire, reception and ambience. Cash prizes ranging from Rs.1,000 to Rs.5,000 were presented. Vasanth & Co was the title sponsor and Sundari Silks, NAC Jewellers and Grahapravesam Estates were the associate sponsors for the event.

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