Gaarudi Gombe



In Karnataka the street procession performance includes the giant sized dolls or the puppets made out of bamboo sticks. The body is rapped with colourful costumes of the regional dress, sometime the replica of the live human theatre i.e. “Yakshagana”. The face of the puppet is made out of bamboo basket and applied on paper mesh with suitable make-up. During the fair and festival procession of the temple the giant sized dolls will be the central attraction to the on lookers. The dolls or giant sized pupates are dummy, huge doll, on manifestation, the whole structure is hollow, permitting a person to get inside to carry the entire structure on his shoulder and dance. Provision is made for the person to see from inside. This kind of processional pupates are also called in different names according to the regions. In Coastal Karnataka this kind of dolls have been called “Tattiraaya” (`tatti’ means bamboo sticks `raaya’ a suffix word; the person who carried bamboo sticks huge doll or puppet) In South Karnataka the same dolls are bee called as “gaarudi gombe” (`gaarudi’- means magical and `gombe’ means puppet). However the use of the giant-dolls in procession is to make fun and also to ward off the evil spirit. The giant-sized puppets are usually found during the temple festivals and they depict various social characters from Indian folk and classics.

The total weight of the each doll usually 10 to 12  Kilograms, height remains normally 10 feet to 12 feet. During the procession few performers wear simple masks of different characters and enacts with giant- sized dolls.

Putting on disguises like a tiger (`huliveesha’) or bear (`karadivessha’) and bringing monkeys to dance to the tamers tune are itinerants common to South India.

In Tamil Nadu (Dravidian States of South India) and Karnataka dancing like animals and making animals dance are popular entertainment. There is also a custom dancing with a bull-mask, some may use even bear- mask. In Karnataka the peacock dances (navilu kunita) are part of the demmy horse dance (kiilu kudure kunita) is more popular during the procession.

The dummy horse-dance is popular in Tamil Nadu States, called “Poyyakaal Kutirai” (false legged horse). A shape of light material(bamboo sticks) resembling a full-size horse is made with a hollow inside, to allow a person to stand wearing the contraption. The man stands with the horse-shape attached to him in the middle and dance to the rhythmic pattern.