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Dora, Chhota Bheem enter golu display this year

Olympia Shilpa Gerald
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Toy makers’ society plans to spread out to neighbouring States

Time to deck up:Varied dolls kept for displaying in golus at an exhibition-cum-sale in Puducherry.— Photo: G. Krishnaswamy
Time to deck up:Varied dolls kept for displaying in golus at an exhibition-cum-sale in Puducherry.— Photo: G. Krishnaswamy

A demure Meerabai, in an exquisite shade of green, strumming her tambura, seems to be lost in her music.

Close by, a cobbler and ironmonger, intensely focus on their tools. Not far away, stands a Krishna with his flute surrounded by gopis. But along side these figurines that conventionally make up the golu display at homes during Navaratri, a girl with a backpack dressed in pink better known as Dora the Explorer and an impish orange figure beloved as Chhota Bheem, strike casual poses.

A traditional golu display is not just limited to mythological scenes and can keep up with the times, going by the month long exhibit at the Vedapureeswarar Koil on M.G. Road.

Popular cartoons such as Chhota Bheem, Dora the Explorer and others that are currently in favour with kids find themselves in the display in the annual exhibition by the Pondicherry toy makers’ service industrial co-op society.

“This is the first time we are introducing these cartoons characters. We think it might spur children to take an active interest in the golu and associated festivities,” says G. Manjunath, secretary of the society.

More than 160 men and women from various places in and around Puducherry under the society have displayed their year’s work for the 19{+t}{+h}edition of the exhibition. The doll makers have been practising the trade for three to four generations.

The dolls are fashioned out of either clay or papier mache and painted with oil colours.

There are more than 600 sets of dolls this year, with each set bearing two to fifteen dolls.

There are life size depictions of gods and goddesses, meant to serve as a frontispiece. But there are miniatures as well.

“These miniatures may become rare collectibles very soon as making them requires skill and experience,” says one of the craftsmen.

Other than the typical Chettiar sets, Radha and Krishna, classroom scenes, the toymakers have attempted depictions of various temple festivals in Madurai, Kancheepuram, Srirangam and Srivilliputhur.

The golu exhibits, which have been confined to the Union Territory till now, will be available in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka from next year.

“The cooperative department has endorsed our proposal to set up exhibitions in Madurai, Mylapore and Bangalore from next year. We already have buyers and doll collectors from Bangalore and Chennai who come here every year,” says Manjunath.

What makes Puducherry’s dolls unique? “The doll makers have been making them for three or four generations. The finishing touch and detailing in facial features is what appeal to the buyers,” says Manjunath.

The doll makers also add new collections every year, keeping up with the changing preferences of customers.

The doll expo is on till October 12 and is open between 10am and 9pm.

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