Over the years, Bombe Mane (the house of dolls) or Bombe Habba has become part of Dasara legacy.
During the festival, generations of dolls come out of their dusty shelves to adorn their place on the steps where they are worshipped.
Dolls are an integral part of Navaratri celebrations. Most of the south Indian states celebrate the festival by worshiping the dolls and giving them offerings.
“Most of them are hand-me-downs which come to us from our grandmother’s or her mother’s collection,” said Veda Srinivas of Rammurthy Nagar.
Although many have collected their dolls through generations, some have started to create themes for their ‘golu’ or bombe to add more to their collection.
Historically, it is believed that the tradition of exhibiting dolls came around when kings wanted to give artists a chance to display their works.
“This could have then transformed to exhibition and sale of dolls to appreciate the artists who made them,” Veda said.
Some view Bombe Man as a method to pay respects to God’s creations.
The dolls are kept in a staircase formation. Makeshift ‘padis’ (steps) are made and the dolls are kept on them. Usually they are kept in three, seven, nine, eleven, or thirteen steps. Dolls representing animals and birds are kept on the last step. Rising above it on the next step are dolls representing old men and women along with those of soldiers.
Up further are dolls of rishis (saints). Still above are dolls representing avatars or incarnations of Lord Vishnu such as Rama and Krishna. Then comes Lakshmi and Saraswathi, said R Vaidehi of Rajajinagar.
The dolls which are arranged on Mahalaya Amavasya is kept for 10 days.
“Every day, miniature goodies are made as prasadams for the bommai. Small goodies like kodubale, nippattu and chakli are made every day. The festival is also known to be for children,” said Varadarajan of Chamarajapet.