Monday, October 22, 2012

Navaratri and Bombe Habba, the Doll Festival

Navaratri is a Hindu festival dedicated to the worship of Shakti/Devi. The word Navaratri literally means nine nights in Sanskrit, nava meaning nine and ratri meaning nights. Nine forms of Shakti are worshipped during each day of Navaratri. The Devis worshipped depend on the tradition of the region. Navaratri is celebrated in different ways throughout India.
The ninth day is 'Mahanavami' and is celebrated as "Ayudha Puja". We worship machines and other things used in daily life. The effort to see the divine in the tools and objects one uses in daily life is central to this celebration, so it includes all tools that help one earn one's livelihood. Books, pens, computers, plough and other agricultural tools, machinery, cars/buses/trucks etc - all are cleaned, washed, decorated with flowers and worshiped on this day invoking God's blessing for success in coming years. Photo from our celebrations last year at my parents house in India
Ayudha Pooja Navaratri
Mysore is well known for its Dasara festivities, which was first introduced by King Raja Wodeyar I in 1610. On the tenth day, called Vijayadashami, the traditional Dasara procession (locally known as Jumboo Savari) is held on the streets of Mysore. An image of the Goddess Chamundeshwari is placed on a golden mantapa on the back of a decorated elephant and taken on a procession, accompanied by tableaux, dance groups, music bands, decorated elephants, horses and camels. It is a common practise to start the formal education for little ones on this day called as 'Aksharabhyasa', just like Putti started her's 3 years ago. Here is photo of Putti and her cousin in front of Mysore Palace.
Navaratri Mysore Dasara
During the festival of Navratri, it is customary in the states of Tamil NaduKeralaAndhra Pradesh and Karnataka, to display Dolls. This is called as Bombe Habba, Golu or  Bommai Kolu etc. This is an exhibition of various dolls and figurines in odd (usually 7, 9, or 11) numbered tiers. The festival is an occasion for entertainment and also a platform to show the artistic skills of the housewives. There are two dolls that a family inherits called the "Pattada bombe" when a couple are married. Other dolls are slowly collected.  
Navaratri  Bombe Habba Doll Festival
Many people make their own dolls too, love this wired dolls showing little girls playing hopscotch.  

Navaratri Bombe Habba Doll Festival
Dolls are arranged in a hierarchy of nine steps, and each day new dolls are added in each step. Some people do it as a theme project picking a different theme or deity each year. Their doll display depicts the story of the deity/ theme picked out. Here is one such example showing the life of Lord Ayyappa.
Navaratri Bombe Habba Doll Festival Kolu

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