Rama Suresh of Mythili Dance Academy will host an open house next month showcasing her collection of handmade dolls from India. The dolls are part of the traditional Hindu celebration Navaratri, which lasts for nine nights and 10 days, typically after the autumn harvest in late September/early October. A token of triumph over evil, they signify the battle between the demon Mahishasura and the powerful goddess Shakthi—who slays Mahishasura on the ninth night and restores order to the cosmos.
“Traditionally these doll collections are passed from one generation to the next,” Suresh explains. Marapachi Bommai, for example, are wooden figurines that portray a married couple and are given to a bride by her parents on her wedding day. “They symbolize prosperity and fertility and are meant to uphold the tradition of Navaratri Golu, or doll display, in the newlyweds’ home. Mine were given to me by my parents when I got married, and I proudly display them in my showcase!”
Generally constructed of clay or papier maché, the dolls are repainted over the years to maintain their bright colors. “They hold a religious significance to me and bring back memories from my childhood when my whole family would get together and spend a week thinking of creative ways to display them,” Suresh adds. “I want to provide an opportunity for other art lovers to be able to view them and appreciate the amazing craftsmanship.”
The open house takes place on October 5 from 2 to 4pm at the Mythili Dance Academy Studio, 7328 N. University Street in Peoria. mythilidance.com PM