Mysuru’s historic doll festival to be revived this Dussehra
Art & Culture

Mysuru’s historic doll festival to be revived this Dussehra

Agency News

Mysuru, Sep 30 : In an attempt to encourage local artisans and traders, district authorities here has decided to conduct the annual doll festival also known as 'Gombe Habba-Festival of Dolls' across the state.

‘Gombe Habba-Festival of Dolls'-in this part of the country is a tradition unique to the area and started several centuries ago by the early rulers of Wadiyar dynasty, it reflects the skills of the women folk and brings the mirth associated with the ongoing Dussehra festivities to every home in the city of palaces.

During the festival dolls are neatly arranged on a stepped platform. The display is arranged in nine steps to coincide with nine days of the festival. It mainly attracts children, who are fascinated with dolls representing scenes from mythological stories.
The festival dates back to the period of Raja Wadiyar in the 16th century. Initially, the idol of 'Gauri' (Lord Shiva's wife) was made and worshipped for nine days. By the end of the 18th century, royalty introduced other dolls in the arrangement and earmarked a special place called ‘Gombe Totti’ in the Mysore palace.

This doll festival was later introduced into the public domain by officials in the royal service, and the practice of arranging dolls at home during Navratri. The tradition of gifting ‘Pattada Bombe’ to daughters during their wedding also contributed to the popularity of ‘Gombe Habba’ as playing with the dolls was a favorite pastime among the young married girls in those days.

The arrangement of dolls revolved around 'Pattada Bombe’ made out of Chandana wood (sandalwood), procured from Tirupati. In addition to that in rural areas the practice of preparing ‘Bombe Bagina’ or a snack on all the nine days was a popular affair during Dussehra.

"The festival was basically celebrated to make children happy and as they had a say in the arrangements,'' said MR Prasad from Saraswathi Puram.

Dolls are arranged in a hierarchy of nine steps, and each day new dolls are added in each step. The hierarchy symbolises nine incarnations of goddess durga in the form of Shailputri, Brahamacharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalarati Maha Gauri and Siddiratri, who attained these forms to ward off evils in the form of Asuras, Mahishasura, Madukaitaka, Shumba Rishamaba and others.

Now the arrangement is used to send messages of public importance at Ramsons Kala Pratishtana, a city based art gallery which is organising a doll festival-- 'Bombe Mane 2019'. Dolls from across the country will be exhibited here.

Wadiyar Rulers who introduced ‘Gomba Habba’ to the Mysore religion also had an exclusive gallery to display dolls during Dussehra festivities. Referred to as ‘Gombe Totti’ or the dolls pavilion, the gallery in the palace has collections of various objects of art including European marble sculptures acquired by royalty.

There is a wooden model of the old palace, which existed in the fort before 1897, and it depicts period architecture, marbles status of European origin that dates back to the 18th and 19th century created by Italian and Scandinavian sculptors.

The metal sculpture representing the 'adage grapes and sour’ is another interesting exhibit, and is fitted with lights, producing a realistic appearance. There are two porcelain decorative lamps of Japanese origin. (UNI)