Saturday, September 13, 2008

An army of dolls

It is not an organization that has moved with the times; many people do not want to be seen as having anything to do with it. The last time I went there was in 1999, if I remember right. Because the building housing it is slightly set back from the road - the curve in the road providing an impromptu parking bay - one does not often look at the office of KGB in Chennai. I was hoping I remembered the location right, as I was sure people would not want to give me directions to the KGB. We headed along Mount Road and then, where I remembered it to be, there it was: musty and narrow, the people inside uninterested in their work. Typical KGB.

If there is one thing to commend it for, it is the completely pacifist nature of its operations. Yes, pacifist, for this is not a scion of the Soviet secret service. This KGB is the Khadi Gramodyog Bhavan, the sales and marketing outlet of the
Khadi and Village Industries Commission. It is one of those archaic operations that were set up to give life to Mahatma Gandhi's ideas of bringing prosperity to the villages. It is a good place to shop, but for most of the year, the merchandise on display looks so run down that you'd think several times before buying something. During the festival season, there are some things that can become very specific to KGB; the golu dolls, for instance. If you shop for your dolls at the KGB, it seems almost certain that your golu will have a wide variety. Gods stand next to cows; village folk look on as Vyasa dictates the Mahabharata to Ganapathy; cub scouts salute women drawing water from the village well. And a reasonably wide range of national heroes, for those who would like to wear their patriotism on a golu.

Right now, Durga is the centrepiece; the golu is a traditional arrangement of dolls, specific to Tamil Nadu, during the Navarathri festival. There are still a couple of weeks to go before the festival begins on September 30; but the crowd was thick enough for me to have to wait a while to get a clear picture!

3 comments:

Hilda said...

Do you get instruction from childhood how the gods should be arranged? I really, really find all of this fascinating!

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Shantaram said...

>> Hilda>> I'm not sure... we didn't have the tradition of golu at home, so I'll have to find out about that. But it is not only Gods - the golu also has mundane things of everyday life!

>> Parimi>> Thanks for stopping by, and for the comments! Took a quick look at your site, will spend more time there!