Gombe Habba or festival of dolls is celebrated by enthusiastic individuals during Dasara/Navaratri each year. The Festival of Dolls involves collecting a wide range of dolls, presenting them in a multi-stage platform and inviting friends to come over and have a look.
Major elements of Gombe Habba:
Theme: Each individual/family celebrating Gombe Habba may select a theme or a mythological plot around which doll collection for that year may be focused. For example, characters from Ramayana, Mahabharata or other Hindu Puranas offer ample themes and sub plots.
Pattada Gombe: Often the lead pair or main characters of the theme are presented prominently among doll collections. God and Goddess pairs such as Sri Krishna and Radha, Shiva-Parvati, Rama-Sita are commonly presented as lead pairs. Dolls are commonly made of wood. Dolls made from metal, plastic or clay may also be used.
The set up: Dolls are set up in multiple levels, usually around 9, representing 9 days of Navratri. The most prominent dolls are usually placed in top most racks, while smaller dolls representing junior/support characters, supplementary story lines are placed at the bottom. Light decorations, lamps, garlands and other decorations are done to enhance visual appeal of Gombe Habbà celebrations.
Visiting each other’s home to view and appreciate their doll collections, sharing sweets and greetings are an integral part of Gombe Habba. Saraswati Puja is done on the 9th day of Navaratri. On the 10th Day of Navaratri the dolls are systematically packed and rested till next year.
Where to witness Gombe Habba:
- Exhibition of Dolls are usually part of public events held during Navratri festival.
- Bombe Mane in Mysuru is a popular display venue for dolls.
- Bimba Art Hut, Basavanagudi: Celebrates miniature arts with 10 day long events, dolls are an integral part of most events. http://www.indian-heritage.org/artcraft/bimba.html
- A private company, Bengaluru by Foot organizes walking tours of Dasara dolls, in Basavanagudi area of Bengaluru. Check: http://www.bengalurubyfoot.com/month-s-walks.html
- Your host/hotel staff may assist you to further to locate nearest Gombe Habba celebration you may visit during Navratri (falls in October month)