Society

These kolu dolls tell folk tales for school children

Pallankuzhi set   | Photo Credit: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

Colourful papier mache dolls and clay figurines of animals and trees neatly arranged on wooden shelves, bring alive the Panchantantra tale about the foolish lion and the clever rabbit. A virtual walk through the kolu, set up at the residence of S Mohanraj in Pappanaickenpalayam, narrates stories such as those about the woodcutter and the axe and the monkey and the crocodile. “This year, I set up a kolu based on as many as 30 fables for children to ensure a joyful learning experience for them as they have been away from school because of COVID-19. They are always eager to learn more,” says Mohanraj.

K. Mohanraj has set up his kolu with over 4000 dolls drawn from various themes

K. Mohanraj has set up his kolu with over 4000 dolls drawn from various themes   | Photo Credit: S.SIVA SARAVANAN

Every year, during Navaratri, he dresses up his collection of over 4,000 dolls and displays them on over 57 wooden steps for the public. And there are new additions every time as he sources a variety of dolls from places like Cuddalore, Panruti, Madurai and Kumbakonam. Mohanraj wants to reach out to children and give them a peek into our glorious past, culture and traditions. “Last year, 5,000 students from various schools accompanied by their teachers visited the kolu. This time, we have restricted the numbers to ensure social distancing. Children now turn up with their parents.”

All dolled up
  • Visit his Facebook page https://bit.ly/35pNcuC
  • for a virtual tour
  • You can also visit the kolu at his home at 31, Dhanalakshmi Nagar Extension, Avarampalayam Road, New Sidhapudur, from 10 am to 6 pm.
  • To know more, call 9842234116

There are displays on farming, village scenes with elders seated on thinnai and dolls themed on traditional art forms like Karagaatam, Oyilaatam and Mayilaatam, and games like pallankuzhi and thaayam. There is an entire section about vegetable sellers, goldsmiths at work, and people at a brick kiln and those engaged in pottery.

A kolu doll set with personalities

A kolu doll set with personalities   | Photo Credit: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

“There are dolls on personalities, on the Indian Army and Navy, women who excel in various fields, Adivasi tribes, fishermen at sea, to name a few,” says Mohanraj.

Cricket set

Cricket set   | Photo Credit: S. SIVA SARAVANAN

A collection of cars, aeroplanes and rockets vie for space along with displays of horse-drawn carriages, jatkas and bullock carts. A cricket field with 13 men fielding and umpires, batsmen and bowlers occupy pride of place. Do check out the modern avatar of Chota Bheem.

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Printable version | Nov 26, 2020 4:12:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/these-kolu-dolls-tell-folk-tales-of-school-children/article32944211.ece

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