Dasara inspirations from Deepa's Home
It’s Navrathri and we pay obeisance to the Divine mother, the indomitable Shakti and venerate the triumph of good over evil in our distinctive ways and resultantly honor mythology, religion and culture. Previously, we have talked about the role that religion and culture play in helping us embrace our roots. Ethnic celebrations bring a sense of home. For those of us who are away from home, we are fondly reminded of the festive fervor in our colorful bazaars and we recollect the festivities with a nostalgic sigh. And so, we give in to the Desi ethos of celebratory gaiety and try to recreate that festive magic at home, wherever home may be.
For me, the doll festival is not an inherited ritual. My parents’ version of Dasara celebrations included Laxmi and Saraswati puja- a simple worshipping of the different feminine embodiments of the Divine but did not include the doll festival. I started the bombe Habba (doll festival) in my married home fairly recently (last year actually – remember this?).
So, I am still a novice trying to piece together the ins and outs. You can trace the tradition back to diverse legends and customs and I (thanks to the internet, my mom, aunts and friends) have adapted a version that is fun and convenient! Why did I decide to make the bombe habba a part of our Dasara tradition? I turn to celebrations as a way of igniting my 11 year old's curiosity about a culture that he is so far removed from and aspire to help him appreciate the beauty and diversity in both cultures. I want him to be able to draw from his own childhood memories as he goes about defining who he is. I guess for most parents like ourselves, who are raising kids in a bi-cultural environment the goal is to have our kids develop an appreciation for their heritage and symbolism as their bicultural identities are shaping up. Festivals are a great way to enable this reconciliation.
I also love to customize our festivals/holidays and I do this by tapping into the artist in me. I enjoy turning our celebration into a unique combination of cultural antecedents and artistic expression and create an experience we as a family can remember years from now!
So, without much further ado I welcome you all to our Bombe Habba /doll display! Our display this year has lots of color and a little bit of kitsch with spatterings of folk influences!
I moved it to our study this year and used the same étagère to display my dolls. By simply moving it to another location and using a different wall color as the backdrop – the display already looks different!
You can view pictures from last year’s display here.
Allow me to highlight a few things in our display-
Custom works of art - Took a life of their own as our display came to life! A couple of handcrafted (by me) elephants adorn the top of our display serving as symbolic reminders of the royal elephants (carrying the Chinnada Ambari) of Mysore Dasara.
My son’s heart-warming rendition of doll festival was an invaluable lesson in expressing oneself.
Handcrafted elephant wall hangings – These are a seemly tribute to the splendor and aristocracy of the parade elephants of the Mysore kings. Incorporating timeless Rajasthani handicrafts was a fun way to turn my Dasara spectacle into a North meets South cultural kaleidoscope!
Kaali in Madhubani form- The mother represents transcendent power and courage as Kaali. Her charisma and exuberance is rightly captured in this folk art rendition. Pulling pieces from your art collection into your festive tableau is a great way to get some extra mileage out of your favorite pieces.
Heirlooms – I decided it was time to start collecting things that would be looked at as time –worn family treasures years from now, objects that would carry with them a sense of history, meaning and tradition. I love this delicately handcrafted carousel with its vivid colors and tuneful music – I found this on my recent trip to France and knew this would be a wonderful keepsake. It makes a great addition to our “magical” row sharing the space with fairies and knights and another keepsake – the tin Ferris wheel that is a replica of the original 1900’s penny toys. I love the lithographic printing on this timeless toy!
Parade of Gods – Our display this year was a little more tradition heavy than last year as we had what I like to fondly refer to as the “Parade Gods”. After all, Golu or bombe habba is a depiction of all celestial beings standing still while Shakti attempts to reinstate cosmic balance. I hope as my doll collection grows, I can one day have a gorgeous display of luminous idols in gorgeous jewel tones that are all symmetrically laid out (sigh!)
And because everyone’s got to have a favorite…. I have one too! Isn’t this just adorable – if I may say so myself?
Setting up the doll display has taught me that passion, dedication; hard work can all be expressions of worship. Dussehra tells the story of the Divine Mother recreating herself perhaps symbolizing the need for recycling and rejuvenation of our strengths and our spirit! I wish you a peaceful and prosperous time as you celebrate with your own families.
P.S: All images are from my home and taken by my husband. Please do not use without permission.