NAT 191007 FEST255.JPG-1570450603788
Navaratri Bommai KOluvi (doll display) at Balasubtrahmanian's villa in Oud Al Muteena in Dubai. Picture credit: Nagarjuna Rao Image Credit:

Dubai: An Indian expat’s residence in Oud Al Muteena turned into a veritable museum of the Hindu pantheon as visitors thronged the villa to get a glimpse of over 1,0000 figurines on display during the nine-day Navarathri festival ending yesterday.

The visitors were spellbound by the sheer collection of the Bommai Golu (doll display), let alone their tasteful and thematic arrangement at businessman Balasubramanian’s home.

The result of one man’s passion, the painstaking collection, amassed over 16 years, comprised dolls made of clay, wood and other materials in bright myriad colours. They had been sourced from all over India during the family’s visits over the years or through requests made to friends and acquaintances.

IMG_0103-1570450575362
Navaratri Bommai KOluvi (doll display) at Balasubtrahmanian's villa in Oud Al Muteena in Dubai. Picture credit: Nagarjuna Rao

The Tamilian family from Palakkad threw open their doors for all to see the golu (or Bommala Koluvu in Telugu) during the festival.

Anitha, Balasubramanian’s daughter, who works in her father’s company Hillsborough Scientific, said it took them more than 20 days for them to arrange the pieces. The effort involved not just the family (including her mother Lalitha and brother Girish) but also several workers.

NAT 191007 FEST.55-1570450593747
Navaratri Bommai KOluvi (doll display) at Balasubtrahmanian's villa in Oud Al Muteena in Dubai. Picture credit: Nagarjuna Rao

The task of putting the dolls on display can be tedious, but is equally a measure of the family’s dedication.

“It’s not just about this year’s display. Storing and preserving the pieces safely for until next year is also important,” said Anitha,

NAT 191007 FEST.444-1570450591076
Navaratri Bommai KOluvi (doll display) at Balasubtrahmanian's villa in Oud Al Muteena in Dubai. Picture credit: Nagarjuna Rao

The doll displays are particularly popular in the south Indian states of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and among their diaspora in the UAE and elsewhere during the Navaratri celebrations.

Apart from a glimpse of the who’s who of the Hindu deities, the display also depicts several episodes from the Hindu epics - Ramayana and Mahabharata. As one visitor said, “They help refresh our memories of what we learned during our childhood days.”

NAT 191007 FEST787-1570450613544
Navaratri Bommai KOluvi (doll display) at Balasubtrahmanian's villa in Oud Al Muteena in Dubai. Picture credit: Nagarjuna Rao

“There’s so much of Indian culture being showcased here and it spans the entire length and breadth of the country, covering everything from weddings, and other ceremonies to farming and educational activities.”

With the world turning into a global village, there are many inputs from other parts of the world too. For example, one section includes not just Indian monuments like the Taj Mahal, but also global icons like the UAE’s Burj Khalifa and France’s Eiffel Tower.