MAKING THE GANESHA IDOLS – THE GREATEST TURNING POINT OF MY LIFE
Till this date, in approximately 11 years, I have made 1,50,000 different Ganesha Idols, all hand made by me. Shreevallabh Shikshan Sangeet Ashram and its founder trustees, Swami Shree Hariprasadji and Swami Shree Chaitanya Swarupdasji’s invaluable moral support has played a very crucial role in achieving this feat. I am extremely thankful to them for their blessings showered upon me.
SHREEVALLABH SHIKSHAN SANGEET ASHRAM
Shreevallabh Shikshan Sangeet Ashram is an institution founded in the year 1950, by Late Sangeet Sudhakar Swami Shreevallabhdasji to promote Indian classical music, at Plot No.6, Sion-west, Mumbai-400022. He always regarded music as a means of spiritual solace and dedicated his entire life to his cherished mission of promoting Indian Classical Music-our ancient and sacred cultural heritage, among the people in India and abroad. Later on, a full-fledged Gujarati medium high school named as “Shreevallabh Vividhlakshi Vidyalaya” was started in 1958. My husband Mr. Satish has studied in this school. In 1991 an English medium school named as “Shreevallabh Ashram English Medium School” was started; wherein my younger daughter Vruddhi and son Harsh are studying at present. Thus, this institution’s contribution in making our lives is immense and invaluable.
SHREEVALLABH ASHRAM’S GOLDEN JUBILEE YEAR
The year 2000 was celebrated as the Golden Jubilee year with great fanfare. During this year this institute organized a yearlong series of cultural programs such as music competition, lectures of prominent personalities, Blood Donation Camp, Yoga Camp, Music Concerts, and of course, The Exhibition of 9999 different idols of Lord Ganesha, all hand made by me. I used to decorate the stage as per the subject of the events.
BACKGROUND OF GANESHA EXHIBITION IN THE YEAR 2000
In the month of March 2000, in a dream, I saw magnificent Lord Ganesha, big as sky, clad with ornaments, bright and shining. I was thrilled with this dream. After plenty of thoughts and discussions with my husband, I decided that I will definitely do something extraordinary on Lord Ganesha’s subject, which perhaps nobody might have done before, even though I did not know what to do and how to start. I prayed to my Jineshawar Parmatma and Lord Ganesha to guide me fulfil my wishes. In the afternoon, while making a pot, it suddenly came to my mind – why not make an Idol of Ganesha, as seen in the dream? After plenty of efforts, I was able to make it. Then I made a few more, in different poses, and was very thrilled to show these idols to my friends.
At the time of next Golden Jubilee event at the Ashram, when I met Swamiji Shree Chaitanya Swarupdasji, I told him about my dream and about the idols that I had made. The very next day Swamiji visited my house to see the idols. He liked them very much; he appreciated my work and congratulated me for making very beautiful idols. I expressed my desire that I intend to do something unique about Lord Ganesha. Swamiji blessed me. During the further conversation, I suddenly asked Swamiji if the Ganesha Idols made by me can be exhibited in the Ashram’s Hall, and it can be one of the events of the Ashram’s Golden Jubilee Celebration. Swamiji liked this idea and said that this was a novel idea and a new subject for the institute’s Golden Jubilee Celebrations, as the Ganesha Festival is celebrated with a lot of joy and enthusiasm. Swamiji immediately accepted this idea, encouraged me to make as many idols as possible, and promised me to organize this event. He planned this event to be just before the Ganesha Festivals. The dates of the exhibition were finalized soon, being 19th, 20th and 21st August, 2000.
Swamiji left it to my wish the number of Idols to be made and displayed at the exhibition. He advised us to keep the whole idea a top secret. Initially I did not know how many idols I will be making, but one thing was sure that I will make all the idols with my own hands, without using any block or mould, and all the idols will be different from each other. Swamji and Swami Shree Hariprasadji visited my house regularly to see the progress of my work and encouraged me to make more and more idols. With growing confidence, I decided to make 9999 Idols of Lord Ganesha. I chose this figure because I consider “9” as a lucky number. Also, I planned to complete this work in 99 working days. I made all the idols while listening and chanting Bhajans of Lord Ganesha and in a very holy atmosphere, with full respect towards him.
THE UNIQUE EXHIBITION OF 9999 LORD GANESHA IDOLS
Apart from plenty of other preparations, it took two days to count the idols and two more days to arrange the display in the Ashram’s Hall. Everything was well set. The dream of March 2000 and the will to do something unique was transformed into reality with the blessings of Param Pujya Swamiji Shree Hariprasadji and Shree Chaitanya Swarupdasji. It was indeed the greatest and the most dramatic turning point of my life, which I had never ever imagined. The great institution, Shreevallabh Shikshan Sangeet Ashram was ready to open the greatest exhibition of its kind ever organized. A history was created by simultaneously displaying very beautiful, colourful, unbreakable and washable 9999 idols of Lord Ganesha, all hand made by me, all different, made without using any block or mould and made in 99 days only. To be precise, I displayed 10206 idols, against my promise to display 9999 idols. At this exhibition I demonstrated in front of the press and media reporters and public that I can make different types of Lord Ganesha Idols even blind folded in just 5 minutes. More than 25000 people visited this exhibition making it a tremendous success. The exhibition was extended for a day by public demand.
This exhibition got the widest publicity. It was covered by leading national and international news agencies like APTN, ANI and REUTERS and this news was telecasted and printed around the world. All India Radio broadcasted this news on Mumbai-A, in their “Current Affairs” program. Doordarshan (DD-1), DD-Metro, Aaj Tak, Star News, Zee News, BBC World, In Mumbai, Sahara, DD-Sahayadri, Jaya, Surya, Sun, Etv, Etv Marathi, Alpha, Gurjari, Jain, Abhi Tak, C News, etc. telecasted this exhibition’s news and my interviews. In the print media, I was on the first page of many leading newspapers. The Times of India, The Asian Age, Navbharat Times, Maharashtra Times, Indian Express, Mumbai Samachar, Janmabhoomi, Samkalin, Abhiyaan, Afternoon, Vruttamanas, Saamna, Tarun Bharat, Navbharat, Sandhyakaal, Lokmat, Navneet Prakashan, Gujarat Samachar (published from New York-USA), Naya Padkaar, Sandesh, Feviart, Chitralekha, Aaj, Sakhi, Tamanna, Suvas, Jain Samachar, New Woman and other several publications had published the news of this exhibition, my achievement and creative work.
I received the recognition from the world famous RIPLEY’S BELIEVE IT OR NOT! And THE LIMCA BOOK OF RECORDS. It was not only Lord Ganesha’s blessings, it was Swami Shree Chaitanya Swarupdasji’s blessings that helped me transform my wish into reality and without which, and it could not have been possible.
I have great regards for my husband and am thankful to him for his wholehearted support and co-operation in helping me fulfil my dream.
– Rama Satish Shah