Sri Meenakshi Devasthanam

This profile was last updated in 2004

History

Hindus have been in Houston for decades, with significant immigration growth starting in 1965, but they generally restricted their religious activities to extended-family gatherings and prayer rooms in each home. They formed a city-wide society in 1977, and, in 1979, around thirty Hindu families in Houston came together to find a common place to worship. A large plot of land southwest of Houston was purchased, an architect from India was brought over, and a Ganesha temple was built. For two years, families alternated days to perform the necessary daily prayers at the temple. In 1981, the second phase of temple construction began, and over the course of the next year Shiva, Meenakshi, Venkateswara, and Krishna-Radha temples were added, along with gopurams (towers). A large Kumbhabhishekam (consecration) ceremony was held with priests from India and fire-ceremonies. Three priests remained to care for the temple and perform daily pujas. By 1996, there were five priests (housed within the complex) and several hundred community members with enough financing abilities to complete a third phase of construction. The current complex consists of the original structures as well as four corner temples (for Subramaniam; Rama, Sita, Lakshmana, and Hanuman; Krishna and Radha; and Nataraja and Durga), a Rajugopuram with niches for the Navagraha, and a spacious Kalyanamandapam (wedding hall) that draws rentals from all over Texas. The entrance to the temple has a library with religious books and movies and also some limited eating facilities. Plans are underway to build a youth center and an additional parking lot.

The complex is visible from a distance, with its stunning white towers presiding over the still sparsely populated Pearland landscape. Guided tours are available on request. The temple is a replica of the famous Meenakshi Temple in Madurai in South India and some of the priests came from that temple.

Activities and Schedule

The Meenakshi Temple has many classes, including Sunday Sanskrit and religion classes for children and biweekly Vedanta Hinduism lessons for any interested Houstonian of any religion. There are many festivals reflecting traditions from all over India. Many families sponsor group pujas; these pujas substitute for much fundraising, as the sponsor provides the funds for the puja as well as a significant additional amount for the temple. There is an active Youth Council which arranges religious and secular events. Many children also attend the annual summer youth camp, at which they can meet other Hindu children and learn more about their religion.

The temple is open every morning and evening. The food stand and library are open on the weekends. (An updated schedule is available at the Meenakshi Temple website.)

Because the temple serves as a focal point for so much of the Houston South Asian population (members cannot even estimate the size of the community), it also organizes, sponsors, or advertises events of interest to the population, such as musical events or lecture series. It also publishes a seasonal newsletter (The Temple Times) that keeps members updated on community activities.