Dasara Doll Festival – IV

A brilliant display of dolls depicting Putrakameshti Yaga, a scene from the Indian epic Ramayana, is grabbing eyeballs at the Bharatiya Vidya Bhavan. The heirloom dolls all of them more than a hundred years old belong to the family of Anu Vishweshwar, a relative of Sir M. Vishweshwariah, the Diwan of Mysore from 1912 to 1918.

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Many, many, years ago during the Treta Yuga, the kingdom of Ayodhya was ruled by King Dashratha. He had three wives, Kausalya, the senior-most, Kaikeyi and Sumitra. The king was sad that none of the queens bore him any progeny and because of that the kingdom was without any heir.

On the advice of the royal priest Sage Vashishta and another sage Rishya Shringa, the king performed the Putrakameshti Yagna, a ceremony performed by childless couples to beget children.

After the ceremony was completed around a holy fire, there appeared Agni, the God of Fire with a golden bowl filled with Payasam, a sweet. King Dasharatha was asked to distribute the sweet to his three queens. In due course, the queens bore him children. Kausalya gave birth to the King’s eldest son who was named Rama, Kaikeyi’s son was named Bharata and Sumitra bore him twins Lakshmana and Shatrughana.

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In the picture, seated on the throne are King Dashratha and Queen Kaushalya, on the left is Queen Kaikeyi with her maid and on the right is Queen Sumitra with her maid and a member of the royal family. Agni, the God of Fire, is in between the sages. In his hands is the golden bowl containing Payasam. The sage with grey hair is Rishya Shringa and the other sage is Vashishta.

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Anu Vishweshwar and a relative took almost 2 hours to dress up each of the dolls. The toughest part was wrapping the sarees all of them being Kanjeevarams. The full-length heavily brocaded sarees had to be folded to a suitable size to fit the dolls. Transporting them from her home to the venue was another task. She had to take care to cover them and avoid them getting shaken as that could disturb the dress and the jewellery. The pandal or ramp was created at the venue from scratch. The glittering jewellery was purchased years ago from Raja Market and the vicinity.

The dazzling display is on till 10th/11th of October and worth giving a visit.

Happy Dasara!

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Weekly Photo Challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “(Extra)ordinary.”

The doll festival is part of the Dasara festivities in many homes of South India. Dasara is one of the most important festivals in the Hindu festive calendar and is celebrated over a period of 8-10 days. The photo below was taken at a doll show at Bangalore. I found these dolls incredibly beautiful and their costumes out of the world. Dressing up dolls is a very difficult process. Kudos to whoever dressed them up. An (extra)ordinary effort I should say!

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Dasara Doll Festival – III

A lot of colour, exquisite Dasara dolls, traditional splendour, doll arrangement interspersed with theatre and between all that taking in the rich aroma of flowers, food and festivities were some of the highlights of the Dasara Golu Walk arranged by Unhurried.in. The walks had been arranged over the Dasara week from 29 September to 4 October. I chose to attend the walk on 2 October.

We were first shown into the 107-year-old house of Diwan Sir MN Krishna Rao, erstwhile Diwan of Mysore kingdom.

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The dolls, most of them miniature, were arranged meticulously by Mrs Narendra, wife of the Diwan’s great grandson. The main display was at the centre and consisted of 4 steps with the 3 Raja-Rani dolls hogging the limelight.

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On both sides of the steps there were dolls of deities and also village folk arranged neatly depicting different facets of village life. I didn’t do a good job with the photos though 😦

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A masala dosa at Vidyarthi Bhavan later we were off to the next house but not before savouring the colours and aromas of different varieties of flowers at Gandhi Bazaar. I have never seen a market looking more colourful!

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As we walked to the next house, we passed by a house said to be the childhood home of former Tamil Nadu CM Jayalalitha.

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The doll arrangement at the house of Veena Ravindranath was simply amazing! Her collection includes 4000 plus dolls spanning various periods of time. A highlight here is the stunningly beautiful depiction of various scenes of the Ramayan with dolls and visuals accompanied by eloquent captions. Everything here looked surreal and behind every scene was a story of toil, patience and a great sense of aesthetics. It goes without saying that arranging dolls is a test of creativity! Have a look at some pictures:

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Lord Brahma and Bhoomi Devi seek Lord Vishnu's help to slay demon king Ravana.

Lord Brahma and Bhoomi Devi seek Lord Vishnu’s help to slay demon king Ravana.

King Dasharatha performs Putrakameshti Yagna to beget a son.

King Dasharatha performs Putrakameshti Yagna to beget a son.

Birth of princes Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrugana.

Birth of princes Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata and Shatrughna.

Sage Vashista trains the princes in archery.

Sage Vashista trains the princes in archery.

King Dasharatha expresses his desire to coronate Rama as crown prince.

King Dasharatha expresses his desire to coronate Rama as crown prince.

A court scene depicting the arrival of sage Vishwamitra to take Prince Rama along with him to guard his yagna.

A court scene depicting the arrival of sage Vishwamitra to take Prince Rama along with him to guard his yagna.

Rama slays demoness Tataka as he approaches the yagnasthala.

Rama slays demoness Tataka as he approaches the yagnasthala.

Ahalya's redemption from curse.

Ahalya’s redemption from curse.

Rama breaks Shiva's celestial bow.

Rama breaks Shiva’s celestial bow.

The weddings of Rama and Sita, Lakshman and Urmila and also those of Bharat and Mandavi and Shatrughna and Shrutakeerthi.

The weddings of Rama and Sita, Lakshman and Urmila and also those of Bharata and Mandavi and Shatrughna and Shrutakeerthi.

Guha offers Rama, Sita and Lakshmana help in crossing three rivers during their vanavaasa.

Guha offers Rama, Sita and Lakshmana help in crossing three rivers during their vanavaasa.

Bharata breaks the sad news of Dasharatha's death to Rama at Chitrakoota.

Bharata breaks the sad news of Dasharatha’s death to Rama at Chitrakoota.

Bharata returns to Ayodhya to perform 'Paaduka Pattabhisheka'

Bharata returns to Ayodhya to perform ‘Paaduka Pattabhisheka’

Lakshmana chops off demoness Shurpanakha's nose.

Lakshmana chops off demoness Shurpanakha’s nose. The demoness in her human-like avatar had tried to woo Lakshmana who spurned her advances. She in turn had tried to attack him.

Lakshmana (partially hidden) chops off Shurpanakha's nose.

Lakshmana (partially hidden) chops off Shurpanakha’s nose.

Shurpanakha complains to her brother Ravana.

Shurpanakha complains to her brother Ravana.

Sita is allured by the golden deer

Sita is allured by the golden deer.

Rama kills Mareecha (disguised as a golden deer).  Mareecha mimics Rama and calls out to Sita and Lakshmana. Sita urges Lakshmana to go. Lakshmana draws a line (popularly called the Lakshman Rekha) and instructs Sita not to cross the line.

Rama kills Mareecha (disguised as a golden deer). Mareecha mimics Rama and calls out to Sita and Lakshmana. Sita urges Lakshmana to go. Lakshmana draws a line (popularly called the Lakshman Rekha) and instructs Sita not to cross the line.

 

Ravana arrives in the guise of a sage to fool Sita and kidnap her.

Ravana arrives in the guise of a sage to fool Sita and kidnap her.

Jatayu, the brave vulture tries to save Sita from Ravana's clutches.

Jatayu, the brave vulture tries to save Sita from Ravana’s clutches.

A badly injured Jatayu informs Rama about the kidnapping and also shows him the direction in which Ravana took Sita.

A badly injured Jatayu informs Rama about the kidnapping and also shows him the direction in which Ravana took Sita.

Khabanda advices Rama to meet Sugriva.

The rakshasa Khabanda advices Rama to meet Sugriva.

Shabari attains moksha

Shabari attains moksha

Rama meets Hanuman and Sugriva.

Rama meets Hanuman and Sugriva.

Sugriva's coronation.

Sugriva’s coronation.

Sugriva's coronation

Sugriva’s coronation

Rama gives his ring to Hanuman as a token of love and identity before Hanuman leaves for Lanka.

Rama gives his ring to Hanuman as a token of love before Hanuman leaves for Lanka.

Jatayu's cousin Sampaati informs Angad, Sugriva's nephew, about Sita. Sampaati then gets new wings and flies away.

Jatayu’s cousin Sampaati informs Angad, Sugriva’s nephew, about Sita. Sampaati then gets new wings and flies away.  Hanuman grows tall and decides to cross the ocean.

Hanuman grows tall and decides to cross the ocean.

Hanuman meets the demoness Surasa.

Hanuman meets Sita at Ashokavana and hands her Rama's ring. In turn she too gives him a token of love and gratitude to be handed over to Rama.

Hanuman meets Sita at Ashokavana and hands her Rama’s ring. In turn she too gives him a token of love and gratitude to be handed over to Rama.

Ravana's son Indrajit captures Hanuman. By then Hanuman has managed to kill five of Ravana's senadipatis (army generals).

Ravana’s son Indrajit captures Hanuman. By then Hanuman has managed to kill five of Ravana’s senadipatis (army generals).

Hanuman sitting on his tail.

Hanuman sitting on his tail.

Hanuman is brought to Ravana's court.

Hanuman is brought to Ravana’s court.

Hanuman meets Rama and conveys Sita's message to him.

Hanuman meets Rama and conveys Sita’s message to him.

Construction of the bridge by Rama and the vanara sena gets underway.

Construction of the bridge by Rama and the vanara sena gets underway.

Rama appoints Angada as a messenger to Ravana. Angada was known to have great diplomatic skills.

Rama appoints Angada as a messenger to Ravana. Angada was known to have great diplomatic skills.

In the fierce battle that ensues between Rama's vanara sena and Ravana's army, Indrajit uses the Nagastra to finish off Rama and Lakshmana. The brothers become unconscious. The divine bird Garuda brings them back to consciousness by brushing his wings against them.

In the fierce battle that ensues between Rama’s vanara sena and Ravana’s army, Indrajit uses the Nagastra to finish off Rama and Lakshmana. The brothers become unconscious. The divine bird Garuda brings them back to consciousness by brushing his wings against them.

Ravana sent back by Rama from the battlefield.

Ravana sent back by Rama from the battlefield.

The pièce de résistance in Veena Ravindranath’s collection was the large Kumbhakarna doll (see picture below):

Ravana sends demons to wake up his brother Kumbhakarna from his slumber.

Ravana sends demons to wake up his brother Kumbhakarna from his slumber.

Indrajit kills an illusionary image of Sita and using Brahmastra makes a bemused Rama and Lakshmana unconscious.

Indrajit kills an illusionary image of Sita and using Brahmastra makes Rama and Lakshmana unconscious.

Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevini Parvatha.

Hanuman bringing the Sanjeevini Parvatha.

Hanuman arrives with the Sanjeevini Parvatha

Hanuman arrives with the Sanjeevini Parvatha.

Rama tends to an unconscious Lakshmana.

Rama tends to an unconscious Lakshmana.

Lakshmana kills Indrajit at the Nikumbala Caves.

Lakshmana kills Indrajit at the Nikumbala Caves.

Rama invokes the blessings of Surya by chanting Aditya Hridayam before embarking to kill Ravana.

Rama invokes the blessings of Surya by chanting Aditya Hridayam before embarking to kill Ravana.

Rama kills Ravana

Rama kills Ravana

Vibishina is all set to take over as King of Lanka.

Vibishana is all set to take over as King of Lanka.

Lakshmana enters Ashokavana to release Sita.

Lakshmana enters Ashokavana to release Sita.

Rama and Sita in Ayodhya.

Rama and Sita in Ayodhya.

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Sita's Agnipravesham

Sita’s Agnipravesham

Installing of Shivalinga to remove 'brahma hathya' sin in Rameshwaram.

Installing of Shivalinga to remove ‘brahma hathya’ sin in Rameshwaram.

This was not all, there were many more dolls in Veena Ravindranath’s home. Have a look:

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After this spectacular doll feast there was one more to come and this one was mixed with theatre. ‘Bimba’ The Art Ashram was soaked in festive fervour and ethnic chic. There was a doll arrangement in one of the huts with age-old dolls gleaming in the dim light.   Actually, the muted lighting was accentuating the beauty of the dolls. The star attraction here was a large Saraswathi.

Bimba

Bimba

A dream stage for any musician!

A dream stage for any musician!

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Goddess Saraswathi, the star attraction in the doll arrangement.

Goddess Saraswathi, the star attraction in the doll arrangement towers over the other dolls.

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The evening ended with Rasalok, an enchanting still theatre performance where the artist Deepika Dorai had the audience (mostly children) spellbound with the narration of Kanakadasa’s life story titled ‘Ecstacy Enslaved’. The stage depicting a typical scene from rural Karnataka had dolls as characters representing village folk, domestic animals, Kanakadasa, his guru Vrishabacharya and more. It was dark inside the hut and only the stage was lit. Deepika had a torch with her and flashed it at each character as she introduced them. The narration in English was now and then punctuated with Kanakadasa’s bhajans and other sounds. This was the first time I was audience to such a performance and to say that I was dazzled would be an understatement. The 90-min performance was both enchanting and uplifting! I hope to make it to Bimba some day again.

 

Also see my last year’s posts:

Dasara Doll Festival – I

Dasara Doll Festival – II

Dasara Doll Festival – I

The doll collection at my friend Kanika Nagarajan ‘s home is a visual treat. Some of the dolls are more than 50 years old. Aunty (Kanika ‘s mom) has a stunning collection of dolls from all over the world and displays them every year during Dasara/Navrathri. Have a look:

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^The dolls have been sourced from all over the world.

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^ The Raja and Rani dolls are the chief dolls in any Dasara Doll arrangement. Without them the doll arrangement is incomplete.

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^ The Krishna idol (second row, right) is more than 50 years old.

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^ The Mysore Dasara procession is one of the latest in her collection.

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^ Adi Shankara, the great Indian philosopher, and his disciples.

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^ Bejewelled camel and her babies. The camels are from Bahrain and were gifted by Kanika to her mom.

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^ The dolls dressed in black are from Thailand.

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^Dolls from South Africa.

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^ Vishnu Kalyanam, the marriage of Lord Vishnu.

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^ A sage, another very old doll from the collection.

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^The Buddha

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^A fishmonger

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^Her collection also includes a bevy of Barbie dolls.

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^Aunty poses in front of her collection.

And here are more dolls from her colourful collection:

Also see:

Dasara Doll Festival – II

https://sujnaturelover.wordpress.com/2013/10/08/dasara-doll-festival-ii/