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Dolls of breastfeeding women, Vidhana Soudha, actor Puneeth Rajkumar are popular in Dasara 2022

The traditional themes are based on the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Dashavathara

September 30, 2022 01:39 pm | Updated 06:05 pm IST - Bengaluru

Dolls for Navaratri celebrations.

Dolls for Navaratri celebrations. | Photo Credit: K. Murali Kumar

The tradition of arranging dolls (gombe) for Dasara might date back to centuries ago, but the present-day observers of the tradition have added a modern touch. This has led to the production of unique dolls and doll sets every year. After Covid-19 themed dolls in 2021, this year, the prominent themes include monuments, occupations and ones that convey a social message. The traditional themes are based on the Mahabharata, Ramayana and Dashavathara. 

Some of the creative pieces in the markets this year include a pani puri seller, breastfeeding women, Charlie Chaplin figurine, models of Kumbabhisheka, scenes from the life of Raghavendra swami, Puri Jagannath temple, models of late actor Puneeth Rajkumar, replicas of the Vidhana Soudha and High Court of Karnataka. The regular sets — school, cricket team, jamboo savari, village — are a common sight in shops.

Along with the usual customers, first-timers were enthusiastically shopping at Gandhi Bazaar and Malleswaram. The prices of the dolls range from ₹100 to ₹20,000 this year. 

A passionate doll collector, 67-year-old Chandrika, has been celebrating this tradition ever since she was a child. Her constant efforts, with support from family members, has resulted in a collection of thousands of dolls. She was at Bombe Mane in Basavanagudi. “I am looking for something we do not have,” she said.  

Wooden handcrafted dolls

A shop-owner in Vijayanagar told The Hindu that their toys were completely handcrafted and made from the soft wood of a tree locally called ‘ponki mara’. Prices of the dolls range from ₹100 to ₹30,000 depending on the size and material used. “We have different sets of dolls of varying sizes. The most expensive one this time is the Tirupati temple, which costs between ₹10-12 thousand,” he said. 

Online sale of dolls 

Like everything else, the sale of Dasara dolls too has gone online this time. 

“We discuss the price online with the customers and then they book the dolls. We deliver the dolls to them through Dunzo,“ said Padma, a shop-owner in Malleswaram. They also get bookings from people living abroad.

Pooja, at Bombe Mane, said, “Last year, an overseas customer purchased the entire story set of Ramayana. This year, he is looking for Mahabharata. Indians who shift to foreign countries after marriage, carry on this tradition there and expose it to their children too.”

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