Indians’ Contributions to the World: Themed Kolu



 Usha Madhuranathan and her daughter, Deepa Vaishnavi, have a "Kolu" display with a difference at their home in Banashankari.


Long ago, Usha decided that she was less interested in having just a display of dolls. She would determine a theme each year, and arrange the kolu around that. Last year, the theme was Kannadiga literateurs; this year, it was "India’s contributions to the world."

Here’s Usha, starting the guided tour of the display:

usha and deepa 261110

At the front door, we were greeted by an ancient Indian Rishi, with his learned text in front of him:

rishi kolu 261110

One tableau explained the concept of the way time is measured in the ancient Indian system, with the concept of huge tracts of time such as a day and night of Brahma, as opposed to humans’ day and night:


This photograph shows the displays depicting India’s contribution to statecraft (Neeti Shastra), the concept of the four elements and their application even in the kitchen; the concept of "mantra", and the contribution of India to the world of metallurgy:

kolu 2

These tableaus depict the concept of flying machines, the idea of Zero and the game of chess, the martial art of Kalari Payattu, and the continuing VishwaRoopam of God:

kolu zero 251110

Usha says that they decide on the next year’s theme, and it takes her about four months to source all the materials and dolls needed. The costumes are painstakingly stitched and the dolls dressed, and Deepa says the Internet is a never-failing source of information. The research, she says, is never-ending.

Usha says that their idea is to give a lot of information to visitors, but that sometimes they, too, end up learning a lot from the feedback of visitors. They have anywhere between a 150 to 200 visitors each year. This year’s research and effort was so intensive that they’ve taken down the display only last week!

It was a great experience to have, in Usha’s words, a "bird’s-eyeview" of the immense depth of India’s contribution to the world in various fields of facts and abstractions.

They have a nice guest-book, too, where visitors write in their thoughts. I did suggest that they should put up photographs and take their kolu online, where it can be viewed globally.

Thank you to Meera for taking me along for this very unusual kolu!





  1. Shashijeevan M. P. says:

    Great to know someone digging out history and showing the positive aspects of it.

    Just a small correction. ‘India’ was non-existent during the times of these sages. It is an entity formed by British for easy administration.

    If we go by their place of birth then ‘Panini’ should be a Pakistani.

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