A momentous milestone in our Temple

     Sri Meenakshi Temple is celebrating the renovation of its original Ganesh Temple with the newly constructed granite sanctum and facility. As dictated by the traditional religious mores of ‘Agama Sastras’, consecration and sanctification of the new ‘Sannidhi’ will be dedicated through the ritualistic grandeur of the Kumbabhishekam. The festivities are planned through a week of elaborate religious observance from November 22, with the grand finale on Friday, the 29th 2013.
     The event will be a relevant and prudent occasion to recall the history of the temple from its humble beginnings, through its inspiring progress to the present glorious realization.
     It is the first traditional Hindu religious landmark in the Southwest United States, built over three decades ago and that has been attracting thousands of devotees on a regular basis. What started in 1977 as a humble dream for a small group of supporters has gradually blossomed into a magnificent complex meeting the religious needs of the vast, growing community. This is the first such temple outside India with Goddess Meenakshi as the main deity, constructed with guidance and assistance from the original Sri Meenakshi temple in Madurai, India.
     Before the main temple was built, and as the conventional custom of Hindu faith dictates, a small ‘Sannidhi’, a sanctum for Lord Ganesha was consecrated, as shown in the picture, in 1979. It is the belief that every auspicious event starts with prayers to God Ganapathy who will bless it through without any obstacles, to 193 successful completion. To the many devotees, Sri Ganesh Temple has a very special significance with fond memories and spiritual connotations. Worshippers visiting the temple begin their ‘darshan’, offering obeisance at the Ganesh temple first, thus attesting to its sentimental significance.
     The founders struggled very hard during the initial stages to raise funds, own a piece of land and construct a small Ganesh temple. It was a modest, free-standing sheltered sanctum where poojas were conducted by conversant, local volunteers as the devotees stood outside in the open and prayed. The main temple was constructed in 1982 followed by the majestic and ornate ‘gopurams’ at the four entrances along with the traditional surrounding walls. The supporters have been generous with their time, resources and emotions, the temple doing exceedingly well, attracting visitors and adding more facilities as dictated by the needs.
     The Goddess Temple has become a sacred Indian monument in Pearland, the suburb of Houston, and recognized by the state and the city, as an attraction for visitors. To quote Texas Traveler “seeing a gleaming white Hindu temple rising from the grass in the middle of Texas cornfield is a thing to behold”, should give an impression of how it is perceived as an established landmark of the area.
     Built over thirty years ago, Ganesh Temple is in the process of some required renovations. The devotees felt compelled to upgrade the facility and modify it to match the stunning architectural beauty of the rest of the temple complex. So, after the due processes of discussions and approval by the elected Board and the Advisory Council, as laid down in the by-laws, and incorporating input from devotees through a few town hall meetings, it was decided to reconstruct the Ganesh Temple.
     The temple architect, Padmashree Muthiah Stapathi designed the new project as instructed by our scriptural guidelines and taking into consideration the needs of our growing devotee population. Ashok Mungara, our local architect has been in charge of the construction that should be completed and ready to be inaugurated at the Kumbabhishekam. The new construction includes a Vimanam above the Sannidhi, sixteen Shodasa Ganapathy Pillars and a Gopuram at the entrance, all completely built-in granite, following the classic customs of old Indian temples and enhancing and complementing the architectural magnificence of our main temple. The granite brings in the splendor and majestic elegance of our historic temple traditions, while the skylights allow openness and a fabulous view of the pristine Vimanam from inside the hall, thus blending centuries-old antiquity with the modernity of the twenty-first century America.
     For the founding members of the temple, the developments have been ecstatic, beyond belief. As they prepare to phase out of the equation, they can feel immensely proud and content that their dream and struggles have amply paid off, relieving them of any sense of guilt of leaving their precious roots in India. And 194 the young devotees should be pleased that the beautiful, spacious facility could accommodate their growing religious, spiritual, and social needs.
     The temple organization remains enormously proud and honorably privileged to invite the entire Houston community to come and be part of the momentous event. For information about the temple, please go to www.meenakshi.org (November 29, 2013)

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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