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Fear of pandemic clouds the tradition of ‘Gombe Mane’ during Navaratri

2 min read
Nikitha Hebsur
Mysuru: Traditionally, people present their collection of dolls, show pieces and other rare collectibles during the time of Dasara.
This is popularly knows as ‘Gombe Mane’ or ‘Bombe Mane’ that is the house of dolls.
The Gombe Mane meaning arrangement of an ensemble of dolls, from traditional to modern, can be witnessed during Dasara. The dolls are cleaned, decorated and worshipped for these nine days known as Navaratri. Some households have been still following this tradition for generations with same enthusiasm and devotion.
It is a festival of togetherness for both the young and old alike in the family as they visit each other and marvel at the sight of intricate designs and themes.
Vasundhara with the dolls arranged at her house in Mysuru.
To keep the tradition alive, some of the organisations have been regularly organising competitions and awarding the best among them. However, they have taken a backseat this year due to pandemic. The households that still attach significance to the tradition, have however arranged the dolls, but the visitors are restrained, unlike previous years.
 
‘Each year, I spend a little amount to buy dolls and show items to be showcased during Dasara. Any place I visit or happen to stumble upon something unique that item goes into my Dasara dolls collection. I have been following this tradition for years and I am always excited to come up with new themes,’ said Vasundhara, a housewife. 
 
Mysuru is known for Dasara. The tradition of dolls started from Mysuru Palace which includes age old collectibles of kings and queens. People who visit Mysuru palace can also have a look at array of dolls and the antiques kept as a part of it. 
‘It’s hard to find all these dolls at one place and hence collecting them takes years of time. I bought a few of them in Mysuru’s Gombe Mane and Channapatna which is known for eponymous dolls. Some were gifted and few were bought during my travel,’ said Vimala. 
 
This year, the pandemic has put a stop on many celebrations and Dasara is no exception. Although, the government has lifted restrictions on tourist spots, people still are worried about the spread of the Coronavirus. This has affected even the tradition of Gombe Mane. Many households have refrained from even dusting the dolls this year to avoid visitors and to maintain a social distance. 
 
‘These dolls are about 80 years old. They were gifted by my in-laws who received it from theirs. Our family has been practicing this tradition for generations but this year due to the pandemic we are celebrating Dasara in a very simple manner. We have kept very few of our collectibles and have not invited many people in view of the safety of elderly persons at home,’ said Tara.
– Team Mysoorunews
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