The festival of Navratri sees celebrations in all shapes and sizes. While some clang away their dandiyas, others dance to Garba and a few others decorate their homes with dolls to celebrate the 9 day long festival. In Chennai, the streets of Mylapore are covered with pop-up stations selling clay and paper-mache dolls. The bommai kollu or doll festival collectables are displayed in most houses during the festival. This year however, dolls of gods and goddesses are taking a backseat as people seem keen on taking home Amma or Jayalalithaa dolls.
Bommai translates to dolls in Tamil and this year Amma dolls are beating Doraemon, Lord Krishna and Lobita figurines a run for their money when it comes to popularity. For the vendors that crop up in the North Mada Street by lanes, Amma dolls have been a complete sell out. The dolls of late Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu is seen in a green saree, grey hair in bun and no jewelry, save a wrist watch. The paper mache dolls generally start at Rs. 900 while the cheaper clay dolls are sold for Rs. 200 and above.
The dolls being sold are part of the festivities and these figurines are generally heirlooms brought by a bride to her in-laws house. As part of the celebration, women in the neighbourhood invite each other to their homes to review their doll display which are generally displayed in odd number of wooden planks with deities being placed on the top.
Tamil Nadu is known to keep their beloved Amma at a celestial pedestal. Their ardent love for the late politician seems to have reached a new high following her untimely death last year but to be beating Doraemon and Chhota Bheem at the Bommai golu is a new horizon altogether.