'Gombe Habba' loses its charm

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Mysore, Oct 1: The traditional 'Gombe Habba' or festival of dolls seem to be losing its charm and disappearing from traditional houses. The 'Gombe Habba' started by early rulers of Wadiyar dynasty, reflect the skills of women-folk and brings the mirth associated with the famous Dasara festivities. The 'Gombe Habba' is part of the 'Navarathri" celebrated by almost all the households and attract a large number of people particularly the children.

The Palace Board sources told that the festival that signifies the nine incarnation of Goddess Durga, and which children anxiously waited for, the festival of dolls is slowly losing it"s patronage among women and young children alike.

Artistically arranged dolls with intricate works showcasing the skills of women are fast disappearing from the traditional homes, they said.

The festival dates back to the 16th century. Initially, the idol of Gowri was decorated in a special manner and worshipped for nine days and was limited to the palace.

By the end of the 18th century, the royalty introduced the festival to public domain by officials in the royal service.The practice of arranging dolls at home during the Navarathri began.

The tradition of gifting 'Pattada Bombe" to daughters during their marriage also contributed to the popularity of 'Gombe Habba".

Playing with the dolls was a favourite pastime among the young married girls those days. The arrangement of dolls revolved around the ' Pattada Bombe" made out of Chandana wood (sandalwood), procured from Tirupati, in rural, the practice of preparing ' Bombe Bagina" or sweets on all the nine days. It was a popular affair during the Dasara, and children would invite their friends home to have a glimpse of the dolls arrangements.

The festival was basically celebrated to make children happy, and they had a say in the arrangements, a house wife Geetha said. The festival was also an occasion for entertainment and evolved into a platform to show the artistic skills of the housewives. Dolls are arranged in a hierarchy of nine steps, and each day new dolls are added in each step. The hierarchy symbolises the nine incranations of Goddess Durga in the form of Shailaputri, Brahamacharini, Chandraghatna, Kooshimanda, Skandamata, Katyayani, Kalarati, Maha Gowri and Siddiratri, who attain these forms to ward off the evils in the form of Asuras, Mahishasura, Madukaitaka, Shumba Rishamaba and others.

Ramansons Kala Pratishtana, a city-based art gallery, has organised a doll festival, bombe mane from this year with exhibition of dolls from across the country, from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Mahrashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal to give boost to the tradional art of making idols.

Mysore region also had an exlusive gallery to display dolls during the Dasara festival. Referred to as 'Gombe Totti" or the dolls pavilion, the gallery in the Mysore palace.

There is a wooden model of the old palace, which existed in the fort before 1897, and it depicts the period architecture, the marbles statues of European origin dates back to 18th and 19th centuries created by Italian and Scandinavian sculptors. The metal sculpture representing the adage 'grapes and sour' is an other interesting exhibit, and is fitted with lights, producing a realistic appearance. There are two porcelain decorative lamps of Japanese origin.

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