Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Sankranthi at Home - Bommala Koluvu

Sankranthi is a harvest festival (Pongal in Tamil Nadu) falling in January. It is by far the most important festival of my family. Of course, we do not have any harvesting to be done and for that matter we do not own any farm lands. the importance is due to my mother's annual shwocase of her collection of idols and show-case dolls and icons. It is called "Bommala Koluvu" or "Assembly of Toys/Dolls". Famous all over South India, it is usually celebrated during Dusshera in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka though my mother prefers Sankranthi like most Andhraites. This yeartoo, we had a Koluvu at my parent's home.

Bommala Koluvu is a display of dolls and toys depicting Gods of the Hindu pantheon on a platform of steps like in the picture. The steps are always numbered odd for some reason. One can follow a specific theme in displays like depicting the Ramayana or scenes from it or other mythologies. Or, one can display the household dolls without any specific theme. My mother prefers the a la carte mode but also makes it a point to add a new doll or set of dolls to the display each year. She has been collecting the dolls for the past 25 years and some of them still occupy prime spot in the display despite all those years.

This set of Rama, Sita, Lakhshmana and Hanuman has been a pride of my mother's collection. She acquired them from Chennai in 1982. They are made of paper pulp and painted in bright acrylic colours. Despite being 25 years old, they still retain the shine and vividity thanks to the pain my mom takes in storing them shielded from light and unpacked only for the Koluvu. Chennai is a hot spot for these kinds of dolls made of papier mache. Here they take the top step of the Koluvu, the pride of the display.

This smaller set Rama is made of marble and is from North India. This is a new addition to my mother's collection this year.

The cute Krishna idol is made of clay and was acquired from a street-side seller in Nellore back in 1983. the one next to it is of Goda Devi or Andal, made of papier mache and acquired in Chennai. At the foot of these idols are dolls of Gopikas in dance. Sankaranti this year coincided with the Goda Kalyanam, and so, mother attempted a small theme here with Krishna, Goda Devi and Gopikas.

This idol of flute-playing Krishna along with a cow and even a calf occupied a special place apart from the regular steps. Despite being off the steps, it still qualifies as one step and is in the countof the odd number of steps. the separate display accentuated the idol. A smaller idol of Krishna can be seen flanked by gopikas in dance.

Mother finalising the displays by bedecking the idols with flowers. For the next three days, these idols and dolls will be treated like royalty in the household and prayers would be offered twice everyday.

A closer look at the topmost steps. They are all made of papier mache. Saraswati, Subramanua and his consorts, Srinivasa, Srimannarayana and even a couple of Ganeshas. My mother has a good collection of Ganeshas, but Krishnas top the list of her collection. two idols depicting Krishna can be seen here. The acrylic colours over paper mache are so vivd especially when light reflects off them.

A South Indian wedding set displayed at the foot of the Krishna and Goda Devi idols. This one is a gift to my mother and a new addition to her collection this year. I had purchased this papier mache set from Khadi Bhandar in Chennai. Mother completed the Goda Devi Kalyanam scenario by adding this set.

Ashta Laksmi. A set of Goddess Lakshmi and her 8 incarnations.

A respite from papier mache. This Ramayana set is an example of the famous Kondapalli toys of Andhra. They are made of a special softwood and painted in natural dyes. I guess there is a dearth of papier mache icons with my mother. My future gifts to her would hence include Kondaplli, Etikoppaka, Nirmal and Channapatna toys.

Another Kondapalli set, this time depicting the Dashavatara -10 incarnations of Vishnu.

Another addition to the collection thsi year. Mom does not cease to surprise us. This is an idol of Hygreeva, another name for the Varaha Avatar.

More of Radha Krishna. Marble statuettes, with colourul dresses made by mother.

This is one of the oldest idol in my mother's collection (a couple of others could be older than me.) It is an idol of Goddess Saraswati made of china and was procured by my parents at the Santinikethan Fair (West Bengal) in 1980.

Offerings made to the deities in "Koluvu".

Thank you for visiting my mother's "Bommala Koluvu". Here is the entire display.


Krishna Kumar.S said...

Dear Ranga, Hayagreeva is a different avtar of Lord Vishnu. Varaha avtar is the third avtar and it is a boar. Haya means horse and greeva means neck. Hayagrivar is not a part of ten avtars.

Krishna Kumar.S said...

And again, nice kolu. Excellent collections.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful collection.
I was browsing the net and came across your blog. Loved your mom's bommalu. We put a koluvu every year and have some similar dolls. But I have started collecting some again. Can you please let me know where I can find some nice ones like the wedding set? Have a small one I bought in Pondy but would like to buy one like yours. My email lalithya@yahoo.com
Thanks and regards to your mom.

Ranganath Eunny said...


Thanks for your comments. I will send you an email answering your questions.

Anonymous said...

Very nice! great collection can u please tell us where you bought all these. I have some and like to add more. kindly mail me at j_mandava@yahoo.com

Teja vakalapudi said...

hi.............very nice kolu and excellant collections mainly that radha krshna statue in third step is superb.......

Vanavil Kalaikoodam said...

Buy Bommala Koluvu Online