This doll’s house is open to all

Lakshmi Panduranga’s intricately designed eco-friendly dolls add a green sheen to Dasara

Even as a young girl of five, this veteran doll maker had kick started on using her deft hands for crafting the figures. Today, into her Sixties, MP Lakshmi Panduranga, whose house on Sannidhi Street in Basavanagudi is referred to as the doll’s house, has a constant stream of visitors during Dasara to see her hand made dolls. Showing her huge stock she says, “I must have made nearly 1,000 dolls in all sizes over the last 30 years. Actually I have no count.”

The level of detailing and the expressions on each of the handmade dolls is mind-boggling. “I choose a topic from mythology and start making the dolls two months in advance. I keep all the material, clothes, decorations, painting, stitching and crafting patterns ready for the 10-day Dasara show. This year, the theme is the Devi and my centrepiece is Rajarajeshwari with a sugarcane in her hand.”

The three-foot deity with expressive eyes and a subtle smile has a crown embellished with Kundan work. “I use modelling clay and wax with organic colour for the faces. The hands and legs are stuffed with cotton and mounted on a lamp. The sari is draped to give the figure shape while the jewellery including the choker is etched and painted for the sheen.”

Nine avatars of the Devi in different materials are placed on decorated trays while the backgrounds are made of eco-friendly material. “Whatever I use is re-usable and reclaimable.” One of the goddesses is crafted with 100 colourful glass bangles while the Ganesha is made of tender coconut, which is etched and decorated. Seashells are used for the headgear. “Everything is re-used, I keep them wrapped in white cloth and boxes so that moisture does not affect them.”

Lakshmi creates decorated wooden boxes and pillars out of discarded paper core. “My husband, Panduranga is into industrial lamination. All the pillars are wrapped in craft paper with the paper core as the base. I had all the mythological characters done in soft silky cotton in one of my Dasara showcases. I use thermocol to depict instruments. Using eco-friendly material has been my mantra for the last three decades.”

Lakshmi who graduated in Hindupur on the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border hails from a family of jewellers. Her parents, Seshaiah and Sarojamma, encouraged her in crafts. “After my marriage, I pursued my passion during every festival,” says Lakshmi who gets ideas from magazines, calendars and temples. The Sangaati Samaja Mahila Mandal has honoured her handicraft. She has made dolls for festivals and marriage halls. She has donated them. “It is for people to see, not for sale. This is my way of expressing my bhakti.”

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