By NewsGram Staff Writer
Dublin: Of the numerous temples established by emigrant Hindus in the various places they settles, the Sri Ganesha Pilgrimage in Ireland is indeed astonishing. However, a visit to a fascinating 22-acre field in Roundwood which houses nine Ganesh idols would not only surprise a person but also mesmerise you. Roundwood is a small village in county Wicklow, southeast of Dublin.
Apart from one sitting idol of Sri Ganesh, reading a tome, all the others are either dancing or playing a musical instrument. Notably, the Victoria’s Way collection of black granite Ganesha (Vinayaka) took about nine years to design, model and carve. The sculptures range in size from 5.6ft to 9ft and weigh between 2 and 5 tonnes. The sculptures were envisioned and sketched in Roundwood by park owner Victor Langheld. The sculptures were later modelled by artist DV Murugan in Mahabalipuram (Mamallapuram), Tamil Nadu, India. They were carved in Mahabalipuram by an outstanding sculptor, the stapathi master T Baskaran.
Besides the Ganesh idols, there are idols of Lord Shiva, Durga Devi and a fasting Buddha. Victoria’s Way is a mini pilgrimage that guides the pilgrim from spiritual birth. Passing through the Creation Gate, the pilgrim encounters the different sculptures of Lord Ganesha, who helps the pilgrim reach the wellspring of his spiritual journey. Then the wanderer enters an enchanted forest where he comes across sculptures that symbolize the crossroads of the spiritual quest. They encourage the pilgrim to meditate, and move forward to the final goal: realisation of the true self. A magnificent 15-ft bronze statue of the future Buddha represents the ascetic phase through which all pilgrims must pass.
Victor was born of German Jewish parents in Berlin in 1940. Victor’s father moved to Ireland and settled there with his family. Victor himself started his primary education in Ireland. By the age of 14, he had decided to go to India, keen to become a sadhu and spend his life in the pursuit of enlightenment. Before he had reached 25, Victor was in India. Thereafter, he spent the next 25 years as a wandering monk in India, learning about Hinduism, Buddhism, Yoga, studying the Vedas and Upanishad. He spent some time at the Arobindo Ashram in Pondicherry. He travelled widely through India, spending time at various ashrams, under the tutelage of many gurus.
During his long stay in India, not only did he came to love the country, but his own devotion to Sri Ganesh, arguably the most beloved of the gods, grew. That gave him the idea of starting a Ganesh Park in Ireland. Once the idea took root, it took 20 years for that dream to become reality.
During his long stay in India, Victor learnt that we Indian are absolutely cricket mad. To pay tribute to that passion, he designed a mouse, wearing a cricket cap, with a transistor radio, slung on its shoulder. This venerable vahan (vehicle) of Lord Ganesh stands behind the tabla-playing Ganesh.
Indian devotees of Ganesh make a pilgrimage to 8 shrines of Ganesh. They are scattered all over Maharashtra. It takes two to three days and can be exhausting. From London to Roundwood, Ireland, a similar pilgrimage can be completed in one day and it is a worthy experience.
(Manohar V Rakhe, www.indiatravelogue.com)