Sri Meenakshi Devasthanam is the third Hindu temple built in the United States in the past 50 years. (Courtesy of the Town of Pearland)
After leaving their shoes at the main gate of the temple, visitors to Sri Meenakshi Devasthanam enter a room filled with tributes to gods and goddesses.
More than a dozen statues of deities, adorned with brightly colored flowers or brass jewelry, are stationed around the area, and observers offer them prayers and gifts while walking clockwise. show. Temple priests can be seen bringing offerings directly to the gods and goddesses, a job reserved for only seven of them.
The temple along McLean Road has served as a Hindu place of worship since 1978; it is the only temple outside India dedicated to Meenakshi, the goddess of marriage, and the third Hindu temple built in the United States in the past 50 years, according to temple administrator Vatsa Kumar. Other smaller temples were added to the complex in the early 2000s.
Kumar, who has served as a trustee for the past decade, encourages visitors to come more than once as the full impact of the 41-acre property cannot be felt in one trip.
“Meeting people, greeting people and making them feel welcome, I like to do that,” said Kumar, who has been linked to the temple since its construction. “It’s the best part of my job.”
All are welcome at Sri Meenakshi Devasthanam, whether they practice a religion or seek to learn something new about another culture. Organized services take place on Sundays and admission is always free.
The temple society is in the process of doing a million dollar upgrade to expand the parking lot; add recreational sports fields; build a playground; and connect the temple at the back of the 41-acre property, dedicated to the god Ganesh, to the main complex. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of 2021.
A sign on the property encourages guests to “donate generously” – and Kumar said they have. A community of 8,000 to 10,000 people support the temple, he said.
The main temple has four shrines dedicated to specific deities, and four smaller temples in the corners of the complex are dedicated to other deities. Ganesh Temple was the original temple built on the property in the late 1970s and is the first Hindu monument in the Southwestern United States, Kumar said.
The temples are decorated in South Indian fashion, which differs from the North Indian temple in Stafford in southwest Houston, according to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, Kumar said.
Visiting a temple can teach anyone regardless of religious affiliation: worshiping the nine planets, for example, can help people understand how the world around them works, he said. Slow singing and other forms of worship can teach discipline, respect, policing, the practice of silence and caring for young and old, Kumar said.
“Hindus believe in planetary activities, so these planets will have an effect on us – on our health, on our marriage, on our education, everything,” he said.