An embellished Krishna idol, rare brass Ram idol standing in 'Abhay mudra', handcrafted Padmanabhan Swami memento, and a Bharat Mata is not something you would expect in the office of a chartered accountant (CA), filled with stacks of files.
The Lucknow-based CA-turned-curator Ashish Verma, has collected several mementos, presented as gifts to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, that were sold in an auction and has proudly displayed them in his office.
The prestigious gifts and mementos presented to the Prime Minister are auctioned through the web portal every year on his birthday on September 17 and the proceeds of the auction go to the Namami Gange Mission, a dedicated platform to conserve and rejuvenate the river.
Ashish Verma, a native of Sitapur, has bought 14 artefacts at a whopping Rs 2.5 lakh in 2021.
Verma said, "Water is a global issue and there is no bigger source for this than the holy Ganga. It is such a noble cause to save the rivers and buying these gifts in e-auction was like an investment. It will yield rich dividends in future."
Verma now plans to convert his house into a mini-museum dedicated to Prime Minister Modi. "I want to transform my house into a rich depository of gifts and mementos presented to the Prime Minister at various events. This will not only make people aware about the country's rich heritage but will also inspire them to save our rivers," he said.
In 2022, more than 1,200 items gifted to the Prime Minister will be auctioned till October 2 and Verma is all set for the auction.
"This year, I have set aside Rs 4-5 lakh for e-auction to make rich additions to my collection. I was blown away when I came to know about an extraordinary pen stand in which 'Bharat' is inscribed in 16 different languages. I immediately decided to include it in my collection. Similarly, I purchased an idol of Goddess Lakshmi at Rs 54,700 after 41 rounds of bidding, and an idol of Lord Ram, standing on a pedestal with hands in 'Abhay mudra', after 50 rounds of bidding at Rs 15,000," he explained.
His other collections include six exquisitely embroidered shawls, Goddess Kali and Lakshmi idols, Ashoka Pillar memento, brass idol of Lord Bhama and Arunachalesvara Temple photo frame.
However, the beautiful idols of Lord Krishna and Vishnu stand apart in his office. "The Krishna idol, which I bought for Rs 31,000, was gifted to the Prime Minister by rifle shooter Avani Lekhara, who won a gold medal and bronze in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics. Lord Krishna wears a crown bedecked with stones and sequence work," he added.