A stunning group of enchanting idols of Lord Swaminarayan — displayed at the Shree Swaminarayan Mandir, Kundaldham in Gujarat has been inducted into the Guinness World Records (GWR), in what is being 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.”
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 flautist Pt Ronu Majumdar, Mumbai MP Gopal Shetty and other dignitaries.
At Kundaldham, a legion of 7,090 idols in various forms and costumes, ranging in size from 6 inches to 6 feet, including an imposing horse-mounted one, are displayed in an enclosure the size of a cricket ground, according to a senior temple aide, Alaulik Dasji Swami.
“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 fibre 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 travelled 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.
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 set a new Guinness World Record by publishing a massive 1.52 foot thick book, which was preceded by the world’s longest audiobook, which lasted 2,440.45 hours in October 2017, he said.
However, the latest record of 7,090 statues of any lord is unprecedented in the world, according to AlaukikDasji Swami.
Aside from radio and television channels, the Temple is involved in a variety of other spiritual, social, charitable, environmental, and academic activities.