HYDERABAD: Devotees offer prayers. Some even speak to their Gods. A few others spread their love and and trust to others. But Pabsetti Shekhar took his devotion and love for Lord Ganesha to the next level. He owns a collection of 16,845 Ganesh idols and 18, 342 photographs and the number is only increasing. He also recently entered the Guinness Book of World Records. Apart from this, he also has 1096 posters, 164 books, 178 key chains and 154 audio and video cassettes of the deity.
This journey started in 1973, when he visited Shirdi.
“The thought came to me in July 1973 when I bought an idol from Shiridi. I decided to carry on the idea and add more unique idols to my collection,” says Shekhar.
Since then he has collected idols from the country and even abroad.
He also collected 1,600 idols in last one year out of which 1,200 are only two inches tall. “I got them from Pune. Other idols are made in unique style like one metal idol has Ashtavinayaka carved below and there are two others which are diyas with Lord Ganesha in the centre,” he shares adding that he has ordered for another 60 kg idol where the elephant God is sitting under a mango tree.
He has idols made of cotton and fur to other materials like gold, silver, bronze, aluminum, precious stones, terracotta, crystal, glass, bi-metal, betel nut, ivory, coral, etc., which he has collected from 37 countries.
His major source of collection are online portals, exhibitions held at Shilparamam, Hitex, Dilli Haat, World Trade Centre in Mumbai and idol manufacturers and dealers who find it auspicious to sell first idol from every collection to him. “I also buy them at other places wherever I find good idols,” the employee at the State bank of India says.
These idols have occupied most of his home and there are thousand others kept in cartons as there is no place left to display them. To find a solution to this, he decided to build another floor and convert it in to a museum. “I have decided to charge minimal amount to visitors and the money I will make from it will be given in charity,” says the 54-year-old.
Asked how he maintains his collection, he points out to the brush and water in a room full of Ganesh idols and says, “I have been cleaning all the idols since last six days and many more are left to be cleaned yet. That is how the cleaning process goes.”
He is also penning a book titled ‘Vishwa Vinayaka’ where he is writing about prominent Ganesh temples all over the world. “I am also constructing Panchmukhi Ganesha Temple, work for which will begin soon.” the ardent devotee of Lord Ganesha adds.
Apart from just collecting idols, Shekhar also loves making clay idols.
“I made idols out of M-seal, PoP, ceramic powder, beetle nut, glass painting, emboss painting, etc., I also teach people how to make idols whenever I am free,” he says adding that organisers of various Ganesh Pandals come to him to get ideas for the idol and also decorations.
Asked what does he think about switching to clay Ganesh idols from PoP, he says, “One should stick to PoP idols as it can be picked and thrown out during the cleaning process. Whereas, clay from the clay idols will settle on the water bed and clog the natural water source.”
“Idols can also be made up of materials like maida flour and wheat flour that can become a food for fishes when the idol is immersed,” he adds.