Bommala Koluvu celebrated during Dussehra festival

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Berhampur (Odisha): Though the community Durga Puja has been affected in Odisha’s Silk City here due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bommala Koluvu- a “fading tradition” has come to the forefront during the celebration of Dussehra festival among the Telugus.

Bommala Koluvu is an exhibition of dolls and decorative pieces by female members of the Telugu people, mainly Kamma community and it commences from the first day of Navaratri – the nine-day festival and lasts till the final day of Dussehra.

“We have displayed dolls, mostly of different deities, traditional bands and marriage processions of different states and religions to mark the celebration of the nine-day ritual during Navaratri,” said J Sailaja (55), wife of J Narayan Rao, a doctor.

She has taken about a week to decorate about 700 dolls in an 18X10 sq feet room with lighting arrangement, while her doctor husband has helped in the work.

“It required around a week to decorate the dolls”, said Sailaja. “We have not used any plastic items”, said Narayan.

“Most of the dolls are made of different woods, clay, clothes, brass and silver. While several of these dolls had been preserved by our forefathers, we have procured some others from different states and abroad”, he added.

He said after a gap of some years, his family started the Bommala Kuluvu in his house from last year. Many people had visited their house last year on invitation.

However, this year no invitation was given to any visitor due to COVID-19 pandemic. Very few people, only our friends and relatives visited our house to witness the exhibition by maintaining social distance, wearing masks and sanitizing the hands, said the doctor.

Similarly, M Padmavati, wife of M Venkat Rao at Brajanagara has also displayed different dolls. She along with her family members arranged over 200 dolls. “We have been celebrating Dussehra with Bommala Koluvu for the last few years. This year, we are trying to spread a message of Swachha Bharat, protection of environment,” said Meenakshi, a postgraduate student.

In the past, almost all Telugu people, especially in Berhampur, celebrated Bommala Koluvu. Since children of these families are out of their homes for study or to do jobs, this tradition is gradually fading. “We could not hold Bommala Koluvu for the last five years, as my daughters were out of the state,” said M V Anuradha, a doctor.

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