BENGALURU: After a quiet 2020 owing to the raging pandemic, Bengalureans are yearning for a colourful festive season. Dolls, often stacked away until Dasara, are being pulled out to put together numerous creations for the gombe mane. As new artefacts and dolls make their way to homes, this is good news for artisans who struggled to make ends meet in the last two years of the pandemic. While online sales are brisk, some customers are stepping into stores to purchase the artefacts.
Tamaala Art Merchandise in JP Nagar is glad to have customers browsing through their collection after a long hiatus. Co-founder Survarna Kamakshi says that it’s mostly youngsters who are purchasing dolls and other accessories this year. “High school and college students are showing plenty of interest in reviving the tradition. They either come alone or bring family; they are the ones who are deciding how the whole arrangement at home should be,” she explains.
The store has artefacts in clay or wood from districts in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and Kolkata. “The challenge for us is actually sourcing the artefacts as many artisans have given up making them, doubtful about the sales. Though there’s a demand, the supply is limited,” Kamakshi adds, while explaining there’s been a 50 per cent increase in Dasara sales since last year.
“While we saw a dip in purchase of return gifts last year, this year they are popular. Most of our customers are opting for oil lamps, purses or pouches,” she says. Tanjore paintings, Indian handicrafts, silver jewellery, and brass sculptures are selling out fast at Tarang Arts in Jayanagar 4th Block. “It’s mostly our regular customers who are coming in; they have been really keen to help during these tiring times,” says Srikanth, the store manager.
Missing the hustle and bustle of international sales of traditional dolls is Varnam Craft Collective in Indiranagar. Owner Karthik Vaidyanathan points out that the sales are completely domestic this year.
“Because of the pandemic, we made tonnes of sales online last year, especially from NRIs. Most of them ordered well in advance so that they could get it delivered on time. This year, there’s been no sale in that section — it’s mostly localites who are purchasing items,” he says.
With the agenda of reviving the tradition of toymaking, Varnam Craft Collective has been working with Channapatna toymakers. But they are treading cautiously, unsure of the sales. “We only added one new doll to the collection this time. The hand-painted dolls, which reflect the village life, takes time to make and is expensive,” Vaidyanathan says, adding that their customers opt for a Dunzo delivery. “With travel curbs on, we don’t see foreigners dropping in either. And locals just call to confirm their order and purchase it through delivery apps,” he says.
This festive season, Bengaluru stores are witnessing a sharp increase in demand for hand-painted dolls, artefacts and other gifting options; however, unsure of sales, several artisans have made creations in small numbers