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Dasara and Dolls

My very first memories of Dasara are of my Mom’s Dolls Display. Steps lined with white cloth with figurines from the Hindu mythology placed on them. Along with this, each day of the nine days Mom would deck up my ‘special’ doll as a new Goddess and it would take centre stage along with the wooden dolls called the ‘Pattada Bombe’. Mom’s enthusiasm and energy was infectious. The doll keeping was usually followed by stories animatedly narrated by my grandfather about Ramayana, Mahabharatha, Shiva Purana and Durga Puranas. The evenings had little kids from all communities tap on the door with the refrain “Aunty, have you displayed dolls?” They would view the dolls and collect the savouries prepared for the day. So Dasara, to me, came to be symbolised as the time of celebrating Hindu mythology and enjoying 10 days of non-stop feasting.
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As we grew older, we wanted to participate in this interesting festival. Our planning then went into creating a park, a village scene, a forest, a zoo and so on. This usually required elaborate planning, with a lot of negotiation with the elders for space, resources and so on. The end result was a display that had our special touch. The pride we felt when other kids viewed it with awe was priceless!
elaborate golu

Various Forms of Lord Vishnu

Slowly, however as other activities took precedence in life, the doll display took a back stage. Dasara became another religious ritual in our minds and life moved on. Mom donated her doll collection to any one who was interested, with a heavy heart, when we moved houses.
Thankfully, this phase, I am happy to report, did not last long and the doll display is back. Mom is now the happy grandmom regaling her grand children with stories from the Puranas. The kids now have their own parks to make. New dinosaur collections with Kung-fu pandas and Hot Wheel cars have made their appearance along with the traditional clay dolls. The old and the new side-by-side and in harmony!
I see a revival. I see hope!
A kind contribution from Kumudhini Ravindra for Housedelic.