Sunday, September 30, 2012

Dasara Bombe Habba!

Dasara, also called "Navaratri", is among the most important festivals celebrated in India. The Festival of Dasara is celebrated on the occasion of Navaratri, and the holy day also commemorates the triumph of good over evil.

Dasara "Bombe" or doll arrangement at our house

Forms of celebrations can take on a wide variety of manifestations, ranging from worshipping the goddess Chamundeshwari (Durga) to exhibiting colorful dolls on the day of "Bombe Habba" (festival of miniature idols or dolls).

"Pattada Bombe"..Bride and Groom Doll which is ceremoniously handed over to every Karnataka bride at her wedding

There is a legend related to the exhibition of dolls that is also known as Golu (spelled Kolu in some regions). Since the Goddess Durga needed tremendous power to fight over evil, all other gods and goddesses transferred their power to Goddess Durga and they all stood still as dolls.

"Dashavatara"..The Legion of Hindu Incarnations

To respect the self-sacrifice of these deities during the festival days, Hindus revere dolls that are in shape of particular Gods and Goddesses. Of particular signifiance is the "Dashavatara".  In Hindu philosophy, an Avatar (Sanskrit: अवतार, avatāra), most commonly refers to the 'descent' and daśa refers to 'ten' in number. The "Dashavatara" of Indian mythology can be linked to Darwin's theory of evolution. Here are the incarnations:

Matsya (Fish), Koorma (Turtle), Varaha (Boar), Narasimha (Half-Man, Half-Lion), Vamana (Dwarf), Parashu Rama (Man weilding an axe), Rama (Man, Ruler), Krishna/Bala Rama (Man, Politician), Buddha (Man, Ascetic), Kalki (Man, Destroyer) are all represented and revered as miniature dolls.

Traditional Wedding Scene - Photography by Swathi (Find Swatching You on Facebook)

Traditional Village Scene - Photography by Swathi (Find Swatching You on Facebook)

Dasara is celebrated for 10 days as a salute to the war over evil that lasted 10 days. On the 9th day of Dasara (Saraswati Puja), special pujas are offered to Goddess Saraswati – the divine source of wisdom and enlightenment. Books and musical instruments are placed in the puja and worshipped as a source of knowledge. Also, tools and implements are placed in the pooja as part of "Ayudha Pooja". Vehicles are washed, decorated, and ceremoniously prayed to..I remember washing my scooter and then my car, adorning it with garlands and distributing sweets to all the neighborhood kids on the day of Ayudha Pooja.

The 10th day, "Vijayadasami" – is the most auspicious day of all. It was the day on which evil was finally destroyed by good. It marks a new and prosperous beginning. New ventures started on this day are believed to flourish and bring prosperity.

Festivities on Dasara. Photography by Sripriya (Find Sripriya Murthy Photography on Facebook)

In the evening of "Vijayadasami", any one doll from the "Golu" is symbolically put to sleep to mark the end of that year's Navaratri Kolu. Prayers are offered to thank God for the successful completion of that year's "Bombe Habba" and with a hope of a successful habba the next year...

Aalayam wishes it's readers a gorgeous and prosperous Dasara Bombe Habba!



  1. I've been wanting to rummage through my (many) boxes for my pair of Pattada Gombes...will definitely do it now :) Navratri or not, I think they would still stand proud and looking very traditional on our buffet :)

  2. Glad to know you were "inspired" Divya!

  3. I am in the processing of completing my Bombe Habba set up here in the US. I have brought many dolls from India and love seeing them each year. Perhaps your readers can share their pics of Dasara bombe here? I would send mine if you are OK with it.

  4. Absolutely dear reader! We would love for you to share your bombe habba festivities with our readers and us. Do share your pictures. Send them to! We wish you a happy and prosperous Dasara Bombe Habba! Please join/follow the blog and become part of the Aalayam family.