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doll display  |  puppet shows  |  dance festival

The Dhaatu Navaratra Mahotsava doll display is one of the two major festivals conducted by Dhaatu. The Navaratra festival dates back to the Rig-vedic period with add-ons in the Epic Period. One finds reference to this festival in the works of Vatsyayana in the 6th century. Later we see its glory in the Vijayanagara period and a continuity with the Wodeyar reign in old Mysore.  At Dhaatu, apart from the traditional main steps of dolls we have a vast collection of over 10,000 dolls from all over the  world displayed theme-wise with stories of the Mahabharata, Ramayana, Krishna Leela, Bhagavata, Shiva Purana, Scenes from indian villages and temple towns, scenes of the ghats of Kashi, scenes of lifestyle and cultural activities of India, scenes of Europe, Disneyland etc. The main stage of the display of the traditional Karnataka gowri-dolls has a different theme every year. There are also specially crafted dolls from the Kinhala region of Karnataka on display with themes of Ashtadikpalakas and a merry-go-round of the dashavataras . Another special feature in the Dhaatu Navaratra Mahotsava is the different Vyuha formations as described in the Kurukshetra War of the Mahabharata. Apart from this there are several other displays that are new every year. The collection has grown over many generations as is open for viewing to the public every year during the festival (from the Padya of Navaratra until Deepavali) with over 10,000 visitors each year.

Display Sections

Main Stage - The Gowri Dolls

Gowri dolls are traditional dolls of Karnataka which have a written history of more than 700 years within the state. These dolls are made of low density wood of bombax cotton and largely imitate the human joints. These can be found to measure 30" to 48". The gowri dolls go on display depicting different scenes during Sharad Navaratra. The dolls don different characters every year with changes in costume, jewelry and paint.   Past displays: 2022 - Bharadwaja's Ashrama, 2021 - The lila of Krishna (a scene from Srimad bhagavatam), 2019 - Krishna Sandhana, 2018 - Srinivasa Kalyana, 2017 - Lakshmi Parinaya, 2016 - Rukmini Parinaya, 2015 - Kalidasa's Kumarasambhavam, 2014 - Garuda Janana, 2013 - Subrahmanya Janana, 2012 - Tripura Samhara, 2011 - Rukmini Parinaya, 2010 - Samudra Manthana, 2009 - Krishna Tulaabhaara, 2008 - Ksheera Sagara ​

Traditional steps

The main steps consist of various deities – Vishnu & Lakshmi, Shiva & Parvati, Brahma & Saraswiti along with their families. In addition, there are also spiritual teachers, historical figures, representation of the plant and animal kingdoms, representation of life (grocery store of grains etc.) and handicrafts. The dolls are made of a variety of materials including - brass, bronze, wood, terracotta, stone, glass, paper mache, wire, beads and ceramic. The festival commences with the placing of the male & female wooden dolls made of dark wood symbolizing the coming together of male and female energies in the world or creation known as the “pattada bombe” or the Raja-Rani dolls”.

Epic Story boxes

This section has detailed scenes from various epics - 70+ scenes from the Ramayana, 60+ scenes from mahabharata, 50+ scenes from the Krishna Lila & Bhagavata, 30+ scenes from Shiva Purana and related stories.

Kinhala Dolls