Every year, during Ganesh Chaturthi, she invites people to see her idol collection. “We used to celebrate Ganesh Chaturthi grandly at my house. After COVID, I stopped inviting people. This time, I have customised two special Ganesha idols as well. One is ‘corona’ Ganesha idol and the other is how Ganesha is saving a tree. Corona Ganesha is a 7-foot tall idol with eight hands. On the left four hands, he holds doctors, police, NGOs, and conservancy workers and on the right four hands, he holds a sanitiser, a mask, a family image that depicts bonding and immunity-boosting vegetables. The other idol is made in such a way that Ganesha is holding a tree from falling,” says Nandhini Venkatesh.
The 47-year-old is planning to open a Ganesha museum at her house in the next two years. “Once my children finish their education, I am planning to open a museum at my house. I have been collecting pillayar idols from various parts of the country, sometimes, my friends and relatives gift me idols. I have dedicated one portion of my house just to keep the idols. If some interesting theme comes up, I quickly get it customised,” she adds.
Ooty-based model and actor Manju Bhashini is the proud owner of 12,000 Ganesha idols. “I have a tiny idol made from a single rice kernel to 6.5-foot tall Ganesha idol. I started collecting idols from 2008 onwards after a miraculous escape from an accident. I was unhurt and I believe that the Ganesha pendant I was wearing at that time saved me. After that incident, I started buying Ganesha idols of various sizes on the first of every month. When we bought a house in Ooty in 2016, I asked the architect to build a separate room to keep Ganesha idols,” Manju Bhashini tells DT Next.
After knowing about Manju’s huge collection, Ganesha devotees and others started visiting her place. “We have been getting requests from people to visit my house. To make things easier, we have opened our house to guests for all Ganesh Chaturthi. After the pandemic, we have stopped inviting people. Seeing my craze for Ganesha, people from various parts of the world started sending me Ganesha idols. A few years ago, I customised Ganesha designs on sarees. At that time, it was not very common. Even, my wedding jewellery has customised Ganesha designs. My husband and family have been very supportive of me collecting the idols,” she says.