The festive season of Ganesh Chaturthi is here. All Ganesha devotees are busy celebrating the festival through the various pandals that have been set up across the city. While this is the case with most of the devotees, there is one such ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha who has been celebrating Lord Ganesha throughout the year for almost 40 years now. A special assistant at State Bank of India by profession, Hyderabad based Pabsetti Shekhar has been collecting Ganesha idols and many other forms of Ganesha since 1973. What started over a act of devotion at a juvenile age, slowly transitioned into passion. “Every child loves Lord Ganesha. It was the same with me. During the Ganesh Chaturthi festival, I used to take immense amount of interest in selecting the idol and setting it up at home,” recalls Shekhar, adding, “I would also spend a considerable amount of time sketching and making Ganesha idols using clay.”
A collector by nature — Shekhar has a collection of coins and pot-plants — the inclination towards collecting Ganesha idols began after a trip to Shiridi in 1973.
“After I saw a Plaster of Paris Ganesha idol at the Sai Baba temple, I was inspired and decided to compile a collection of different forms of Ganesha,” he shares.
Since then Shekhar has been regularly bringing home a large number Ganesha idols, posters, key chains, books and audio/video cassettes — constituting around 30,000 form of Ganesha — out of which 12,022 are Ganesha idols. And, for this, he has travelled to various places and countries across the world. “My collection is not only from India, but also other countries like — USA, Japan, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, and many others.”
Height of the idols vary from half-inch to 4.5 feet, while Shekhar has purchased some for a measly 50 paise to a whopping `50,000.
Apart from having an eclectic mix of Ganesha idols from around the world, Shekhar has also ensured that the materials used to make the idols have also been various. “The idols are made of different materials — from PoP, clay, gold and silver, to crystal, glass, marble, and many others. Apart from the ones I’ve purchased, I have also made some idols using clay, ceramic powder, m-seal, and many others,” shares Shekhar, who only believes in adding Ganesha idols to his collection, and not in the concept of immersion. “As a child, I used to get very upset when the Ganesha idol was taken to be immersed in a water body. That’s why I don’t believe in that and constantly keep adding to my collection, and not subtracting,” smiles Shekhar. His aspiration is to also keep the collection growing through the family, by involving his son in the hobby. “I wish that at least the next four generations of my family continue to follow this tradition,” he hopes.
While happy at his varied collection of his favourite deity, Shekhar has also received many laurels for his dedication and passion. His collection entered the Limca Book of Indian Records for three years — 2010, 2011 and 2012. He has also been a part of India Book of Records (2012), Unique World Records (2012), Everest World Records (2012) and Assist World Records (2012). “Now I am aiming to enter the Guinness Book of World Records,” says Shekhar confidently, who also aims to reach 1,00,000 from the almost 30,000 in his collection of idols, posters, key chains, cassettes, books and just about every other object.
Another pet project of the man is his book, titled Vishwa Vinayaka. Currently in the process of being compiled, Shekhar is on the look-out for sponsors and hopes that he can publish the book. “I have already written most of it. This book covers all the Ganesha temples in India and across the world. It also talks about the importance of Ganesha, and many other aspects of this God.” True to his devotion, he says he will use the funds generated from the sales of his book for charity.