Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Dasara Doll

Devi awaits her servant.
Wrists and elbows, now stiff or dislocated,
will be bent to bless, hold vessel or sword.
Bare limbs and head will be dressed,
ornaments blaze in the colours of divine moods.
Then the eyes will take on kindness or anger,
the mouth grimace or smile.
Others will pronounce her names.
She who holds such power of transformation,
the lady of the house,
is she herself the goddess
or her most intimate friend?
- Dr. Rowena Hill,
Poet, Venezuela

Dr. Rowena Hill is a poet from Venezuela who stayed in Mysore during her higher studies. She used to visit Mysore often, even after completing her studies. She currently resides in Venezuela. During her last visit to Mysore in Dasara 2006, she visited Bombe Mane. There she was intrigued by a doll whose limbs were detachable so that it could be dressed up in different costumes for different days during Dasara. She wrote the above poem as a tribute to that doll.

This doll is called 'keelu gombe' or 'keelu gowri' has been crafted in Kinhala, a hamlet near to Koppala district headquarters in Karnataka. This doll has been crafted by the master craftsman Sri Ekappa Chitragar.


Mohan's Musings said...

This is a lovely posting.....I am interested in knowing if these "Gowri Bommais" - Bommai means Doll in Tamil , are still sold/ available. They used to be an integral part of the navarathri - doll arrangements in most South Indian Brahmin households of yesteryear and this is no longer done these days.
Will be greatful if you can drop me a mail...

Raghu Dharmendra said...

@ Mohan: Dear sir, Gowri Bommai is called as 'Keelu Gombe' or 'Keelu Gowri' in Kannada. These are still made by a very small group of artisans who reside in the hamlet of Kinhala near Koppala neighbouring Hospet in Karnataka. But these are created against order and one needs lot of patience and time to deal with these artisans.

kalpkam said...

Dear Sir,
It is with great pleasure I wish to inform you that I am in possession 12 of these dolls for the past 50 years. I have been displaying various themes every year kolu which have been admired by the people of Chennai. This collection is my mother in law's treasure. I have been following her foodsteps.
I have created an album also of the 50 years kolu.
Thank you for sharing my thoughts.
With regards,
Kalpakam Srinivasamurti

kalpkam said...

Footsteps is wrongly written as foodsteps.Kindly correct and read

Raghu Dharmendra said...

[Kalpakam]: Dear madam, it is a wonderful thing to possess 12 keelu gowris of antiquity. You indeed possess a treasure. I am happy to know that you have kept alive the tradition of kolu; my appreciations.

Please let me know your mailing address so that I will include it in our mailing list. I will send you the invitations of all our annual exhibitions. Thank you.

kalpkam said...

Dear Sir,
I am happy to receive your prompt reply.
My EMail ID is
With regards Kalpakam Srinivasamurti

Hansavati said...

Dear Sir,

I live in the US and have been looking for this for the longest time! I will be visiting India in October after Navarathri, will it be possible to place an order in advance of the busy season for you, so I may collect 3 of these dolls during my trip to Mysore?

Many Thanks,
Anita Narayan

Roopa Tungaturthi said...


I live in canada and have been following the tradition from my mother for the bombe habba here in canada. I have a large collection here too and celebrate dasara in big scale here. I would like add ramayana set (cloth dolls) this year. Please let me know if you have stock and can send some pictures of the set. For this set Iam intersted in cloth dolls. Please let me know if you have more information. Also please send your new letters to me at


Roopa Tungaturthi said...

Hello Sir

Do you have Ramayana Set made with cloth dolls to send to canada.


sr devraj said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
krissna said...

Are vintage Kinhala dolls available ? I am a collector

Unknown said...

Hi.... I have been trying to get a set of the keelu gowri dolls for quite sometime .... Please please do let me know how to get these.... Preferably in Bengaluru if possible...

Kavitha Srinivas said...

Hi sir,
I have been looking for these Gowri dolls for some time now.
Is it possible to place an order for these dolls? I want at least 4 of them.