If you have more than 16,845 idols of Ganesha, you are bound to walk into record books! This is what has happened to P. Shekhar, whose lifetime love affair with the idols of the elephant God has earned him a rightful passage into the Guinness Book of World Records for dedicating his life to collecting rare and unique idols of Ganesha.
A bank employee by profession, Mr. Shekhar has varied interests but all related to Ganesha.
When he is not collecting idols, then he is writing a book ‘Vishwa Vinayaka’ that covers Ganesha temples across the world.
He is also trying to build a Pancha Mukha Ganesha Temple in Hyderabad with an aim to ‘help needy people and to solve their problems through Ganesha.’
“I have dedicated my life to collecting the idols of Ganesha. Now, I want to do something to help the public and that’s why I’m trying to build a temple for lord Ganesha. Some of my collection is also from countries like Afghanistan, Indonesia, Germany, Pakistan, Singapore, Ireland, Kenya, etc. The art work of Ganesha idol is well liked and respected everywhere,” says Mr. Shekhar.
Getting recognition from Guinness was not easy, as Mr. Shekhar found himself approaching them repeatedly for close to five years. “I kept contacting them year and after year because I knew this is the largest and unique collection. Finally, they relented and visited my house and inspected all the idols thoroughly,” he recalls proudly.
A gift from parents
The journey of collecting the idols started in 1973 when his parents gave him a gift of Ganesha idol in plaster of Paris during a visit to Shirdi Saibaba temple. Since then, he has made sure to purchase or quite often even make the idols and add to his already huge collection.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer size of his collection. The hall and two bedrooms of his house in West Marredpally are crammed from top to bottom with the idols of Ganesha.
The walls are lined by huge book racks in which, instead of books, Ganesha idols of every size, shape and colour are placed with a lot of care.
His collection is a treasure trove of trivia with each idol having its own unique background story. “I have all the 32 forms of Ganesha statues like Sankathara Ganapati, 12 Raasi Ganapati and Shubdristi Ganesh. Each idol has a story and it would be interesting to read for children and adults alike when we put them up in a museum.”
Apart from idols, Mr. Shekhar also has 18,342 photographs, 1096 posters, 164 books, 178 key chains and 154 audio and video cassettes of Ganesha. To check out his collection, call 6527-4375.
The art work of Ganesha idol is well liked and respected everywhere, – P. Shekhar Bank employee.