Educationist Mohan Manghnani has thousands of Ganesha idols in his possession | Nagesh Polali / Express
‘When I was 25, ‘He’ spoke to me, changing my life’
Hundreds of trunks and pairs of eyes stared from shelves and glass cupboards.
One figurine of the elephant-headed God appeared busy playing a sitar, another was lost deep in thought while the third lay snugly as if enjoying a nap. Though they were all clones, each idol of Lord Ganesha stood out in their different poses, colours and sizes, each radiating energy into the room.
Mohan Manghnani, Chairperson of the New Horizon Educational Institutes welcomes everyone into his favourite chamber where a thousand Ganeshas occupy its nooks and crannies.
As a younger man, an extraordinary experience left a permanent spiritual imprint on Mohan.
“When I was 25, I had a vision of Ganesha speaking to me about something painful and important in my life. He changed my life completely and I owe all my success to him,” he said sitting across a large teak table which is also decorated with innumerable Ganesha idols.
Talking about his collection, particulartly a large trunk of rose wood tree, standing in a wooden cabinet across the room, which has been carved in the image of lord Ganesha, Mohan recounts the miracle behind this piece.
Around 17 years ago, on a trip to Mysore Mohan met his first Ganesha idol. “To celebrate my birthday I had gone with the school staff to Mysore for a picnic. As we were coming back on a pitch dark road ,I spotted a shop. My heart guided me into this shop. As I entered my eyes fell on the beautiful trunk and I knew it belonged to me,” he said, lost in thought, as if transported back to that time and place.
As Mohan fumbled his pockets to pay the shopkeeper, he realised that he was not carrying enough money.
Once in Bangalore he helped me place the piece in its right place, took the money and left. After some days I thought of getting a similar idol.
But I looked and looked for that tiny shop by the roadside. There was no shop there. It had simply disappeared.” Many people who have entered this room have felt high energy in the room. “A lot of spiritual gurus have come to this room and they have all said one thing, there is high energy here,” he says while carefully choosing his most treasured idols.
None of the other idols since then have had a price tag attached to them - they have been gifts to Mohan. Carefully from a glass cupboard he took out a small Ganesh crafted out of mother of pearls and a Ganesha made of nine pulses. Next he displayed an idol made of gold and another one blown out of glass. A resting Ganesha in a Tanjore painting, a straight faced Ganesha made of Sandalwood, a small glittering Ganesha carved out of a precious stone and a Ganesha made of shells are carefully handpicked by him and put on the table. Like a magician, he conjures out of thin air, a small beetle nut which also has a Ganesha carved on it.
The man is not an ordinary collector but a devout follower of Lord Ganesha. Every year as hundreds of soiled brown feet run towards the sea leaving their imprints behind in the sand, Mohan stands silently in the corner of Chowpathy beach in Mumbai. He offers food and water to many who come there for immersion. “It has become a ritual for many years,” he says. But he doesn’t follow the same ritual at home. Instead of getting his own little idol, Mohan believes in getting smiles on thousands of faces. “Earlier I used to get my Ganpati at home, keep him for 10 days and then bid him goodbye. But that was a painful ritual. So I discontinued it as it also causes pollution,” he says. This year Mohan is bringing joy to families of seven villages near Mangalore during the festival of the elephant-headed God.