A stunning group of enchanting idols of Lord Swaminarayan — displayed at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Kundaldham in Gujarat — has entered the Guinness World Records (GWR), in what is billed as a 'first-of-its-kind global achievement by a temple', officials said here on Monday. The GWR's citation says: "The largest collection of religious statues is 7,090 and was achieved by PP – Gyanjivandasji Swami (India) in Kundaldham (Gujarat), India, on 18 December 2021. More than 5000 people attended the event 'Swaminarayan's Akshardham in Kundaldham' where the religious statues were available for the public to see."
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The GWR was awarded at a special function held over the weekend at its sprawling branch at Bhayander, Thane district, to the head of the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir PP Gyanjivandasji Swami, at a virtual event, by Indian flutist Pt Ronu Majumdar, Mumbai MP Gopal Shetty and other dignitaries. The legion of 7,090 idols, ranging from 6 inches to 6 feet, including an imposing horse-mounted one, in different forms and costumes, are displayed at Kundaldham in an enclosure as big as a cricket ground, said a senior temple aide, Alaulik Dasji Swami.
The entire project was started in 2000 to achieve the Guinness World Record. | Unsplash
"We were inspired by PP Gyanjivandasji Swami and the entire project was started in 2000 to achieve the Guinness World Record after 22 years," AlaukikDasji Swami told IANS. All the fiber idols are meticulously detailed and made by the Temple Bhakts with help from expert local artisans, carefully hand-painted. The smaller idols take around 5 days to complete and the bigger ones can go up to 10 days, informed ChitsagarDasji Swami. The two Swamis said that the actual idols produced in the past two decades may have crossed 100,000, but many were donated to devotees thronging the Kundaldham temple from all over the world.
"The entire collection is dedicated to Shree Swaminarayan Bhagwan, who was born as the infant 'Ghanshyam' to Dharmadev Pande and Bhaktimata Pande at a small village, Chhapaiya in Uttar Pradesh, in Vikram Samvat-1837 (April 2, 1871 AD)," said AlaukikDasji Swami. Renouncing the world at the tender age of 11, he traveled all over the country and his real identity – Swaminarayan – was finally revealed to the world when he was 21 (VS-1858), anointed as the Head of the Uddhav Sect (founded by Ramanand Swami), which henceforth came to be known as the 'Swaminarayan Sect'. In his lifetime, Shree Swaminarayan Bhagwan built temples at Ahmedabad, Bhuj, Dholera, Gadhpur, Junagadh and Vadtal, before he became immortal in VS-1886, aged 49.
A stunning group of enchanting idols is displayed at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir. | Unsplash
Since then, the Swaminarayan Sect has flourished with "several crores of devotees" and more than 5,000 big and small temples dedicated to Shree Swaminarayan globally, according to ChitsagarDasji Swami. In February 2020, the Temple achieved another Guinness World Record — publishing a staggering 1.52 feet thick book, preceded by the world's longest audiobook running into 2,440.45 hours' duration in October 2017, he added. However, as far as the 7,090 statues of any lord are concerned, the latest record is unprecedented in the world, said AlaukikDasji Swami. Besides, the Temple is engaged in a variety of other spiritual, social, charitable, ecological and academic activities besides radio and TV channels. (IANS/SP)
(Keywords: Swaminarayan, Mandir, Gujarat, Guinness World Record, religious, statues, devotees, country, India, idols, enclosure. )