Dasara dolls: Not just dolls, they represent a forgotten past

Dasara doll arrangement is fun and welcome change from the routine. Get creative and deck up the dolls with accessories. Just arrange them. Use them to tell stories too!

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Dasara is the time to get back to those old stories of goodness winning over evil – a celebration of all gods, though the major one is Durga. Doll arrangement is part of Dasara celebrations in Bengaluru.

The tradition is observed in particular communities where a set of two dolls – called ‘Pattada Gombes’ – is gifted to a newly married couple. Thereafter every year these two wooden dolls, along with whatever collection they have, are arranged in beautiful manner during Dasara.

Other dolls can be anything. There are various kinds of sets available in doll display shops which host exhibitions during this time of the year.

Where to buy which doll

  • If you have a good budget and looking for wooden dolls, a trip to Channapatna which is around 45 km away from Bangalore would be useful. wooden dolls are the most eco-friendly way.
  • Marble statues: They are available in every major locality in Bengaluru, in marble shops. These are heavy, and reflect the wealth of the buyer. A marble doll of 15 X 15 costs somewhere around Rs. 10,000 to 15,000 depending on the design. Care should be taken so that they don’t fall, after purchase.
  • Synthetic marble dolls: They are available for a lesser price, around Rs 400 to 1000, and more for bigger ones. Beautiful Happy man, Ganesha, Krishna, Lakshmi and other goddesses are the usual popular designs. These are also coloured, washable and last long if handled with care. these are usually available in gift and fancy stores.
  • Plaster of Paris dolls: These are not so eco-friendly, but last long when handled with care. The colour usually wears off over the years. Wide range of story sets are available in Plaster of Paris variety. A Ramayana full set with 200 dolls costs around Rs 1,40,000/- in an exhibition in Malleshwaram. There are many exhibitions like this in Malleshwaram and Gandhi Bazaar and Jayanagar.
  • Terracota / clay dolls: Eco-friendly earthern dolls are available in many places, one popular place being ‘Varna’ shop in Malleshwaram. There are themes and story sets in this too. Price range is from Rs 20 to 2000.

How to design a doll arrangement

A popular, time-consuming and beautiful way of designing the doll arrangement in Bangalore is to create a natural park. Before 15 days of Dasara, homemakers used to clean the verandah of their homes, get some good soil and spread it over plastic and paper, in the shape they wanted the park to be, with right kind of brick borders.

Then soaked Ragi was sprinkled over the park soil, and watered every day, so that by the time Dasara arrives the Ragi crop would grow to some 2-3 inches forming a nice green cover for the ‘park.’ Sometimes other small plants that can live without sunlight were also planted in the park. Then dolls were placed in this park suitably, according to one’s own imagination – a bench, a house, people, temple, gods and goddesses, birds, animals – anything in the showcase that was found suitable had a place in such parks.

Now the zeal to do this kind of arrangement has gone down, with shrinking living spaces and time constraints for homemakers. There are still a few who do this, here and there in parts of old Bangalore. Now there are racks meant for doll arrangement available in shops, which is generally used. Shops in old Bangalore display artificial park items made from recycled plastic, like trees and shrubs and so on, and rangoli strips to go with the arrangements.

You can design your doll arrangement according to your creativity and taste – after all it is for fun and joy of celebrating the festival, with no hard rules.

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