Museums of devotion

Museums of devotion

“I see Ganesha in everything and can make him from anything,’’ says Raghavendra Hegde, a Bangalore-based artist, while showing his three hundred-plus Ganesha artworks, which includes a two-liter Pepsi bottle neatly crafted into the elephant-headed God.

Raghavendra belongs to a small group of people who devote considerable time and money to collect artefacts of Lord Ganesha.

V Shadakshari, Managing Director, Ramanashree group of hotels, has more than 2,222 varieties of Gajanana. His collection ranges from a Ganesha picture inscribed on rice to a six-feet bronze stature. His collection also includes a 50-feet Lambodhara, which is worshiped daily at Chokahali, Kolar.

Shadakshari has dedicated the entire first floor of his office on Raja Ram Mohan Roy road to his collections. He has Ganesha in all colours, size, and shapes. He has also collected Ganesha idols from over 15 countries including China, Java, Japan and Sumatra.

Ganesha playing various musical instruments, an idol depicting ‘dashavatara’, a replica of Dagdusheth (Pune’s richly ornamented Ganesha) and Ganesha in Santa Claus attire are some of his interesting possessions. Shadakshari has been collecting Ganesha artefacts for more than 13 years now and says he wants more.

“My collection started with a Ganesha photo that appeared in Sudha magazine and within few days someone gifted me another photo. That triggered my interest in collecting the real son-of-soil,” he says.  He has planned to construct a museum, after his collection reaches 4,000 artefacts.  

Shadakshari’s collection emphasises on Ganesha artefacts made of modern materials such as crystals, black stone and plaster-of-Paris. In contrast, Aditya Prakash of ‘Ganapathi Prapancha’ (Ganapati’s world) has collected 2,165 Ganesha artefacts made of ‘pancha loha,’ silver, gold, ivory and neem wood. 

Pic courtesy: V ShadakshariTravelling across the world, Aditya has brought back home rare and important pictures of Ganesha. A female Ganesha (Bihar), two Ganeshas hugging each other (Japan), a Navadhanya Ganesha (made of nine different grains) and a tribal Ganesha have enriched his collection. 

Aditya Prakash gives importance to the creativity of the artist. Pointing at his single-piece 11-feet tall ‘Panchamuki’ (five-faced) Ganesha, which has been carved out of neem tree and painted with vegetable-based colours, he says, “I bought this artwork as a tribute to the artist and the price did not matter”.

What prompts them to collect Ganesha artefacts? “Not all Gods have the versatile look of Ganesha. We can find him in any form,” says Aditya. “He is there for me whenever I need him. He has fulfilled all my dreams, so I started collecting his artefacts in 1993,” he adds.
S Thyagarajan, former president of Ganesha collectors’ forum, has a personal reason for collecting the elephant-headed God. “My wife was a Ganesha devotee. After her death, I wanted to keep her memories alive, so I started collecting her favourite God.”  He has 2,500 plus Ganesha artefacts at his museum near Om Shakthi Temple in Kalyan Nagar.

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