Dolling up social issues

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Dasara special: Geetha Sriram displaying her dolls in Hassan on Tuesday.
Dasara special: Geetha Sriram displaying her dolls in Hassan on Tuesday.

Shama Sunder

Geetha Sriram’s doll display with social themes is a star attraction

HASSAN: For Geetha Sriram, the Dasara season is an opportunity to create public awareness as she tweaks the tradition of exhibiting dolls to propagate important social messages.

Originally from Mysore, Ms. Sriram grew up participating in the custom of displaying dolls at Dasara and visiting the houses of relatives and friends to see the displays in their homes. When she married engineer Sriram and moved to Hassan ten years ago, she revived the tradition, which had been discontinued a decade before her marriage, in her marital home. She brought some dolls from Mysore and purchased others from Chennapatna. However, instead of sticking to traditional themes, she began selecting contemporary issues and arranging her display accordingly, making her home in Housing Board Colony a star attraction for children at Dasara.

Ms. Sriram often bases her theme on the prevailing issue of the day. For instance, this year the themes are preventive measures against A (H1N1) infection and the effect of pub culture on youth. Last year, her display centred around the attacks on churches and preached communal harmony.

Issues concerning rural life are also an important priority for Ms. Sriram, who told The Hindu here on Tuesday about the gradual decline in the popularity of rural sports which had prompted her to make rural sports one of her themes for the season. She also hopes that these exhibitions will inspire children to persuade their parents to take them to villages in order to see more of this way of living.

Ms. Sriram also has some priceless pieces in her collection of immense antique value. She owns a pair of Raja-Rani dolls that she claims is 80 years old.

Ms. Sriram said that as purchasing new dolls was an expensive proposition, she reused old dolls and dressed and decorated them to suit her needs. Even in Chennapatna, where dolls are made traditionally, they are expensive and do not meet my requirements, she said. Sayeed Anjana Parvez from Mysore, a friend of Ms. Sriram from Mysore, visits Hassan every Dasara to see the exhibition of dolls, “Geetha’s attempt to educate people this way, at a time when handicrafts are dying, is marvellous,” she said.




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