Global Indian Viewpoint

Meenakshi Kalyanam

Indian Temple Architecture in USA

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A report by Dr. R. Nagaswamy

Entrance Gopura of Meenakshi Temple at Pearland, Texas, USA

Of the biggest Hindu temples in United States, is the temple of goddess Meenakshi at Houston.  Started as a small temple dedicated to Lord Ganesha almost thirty years ago, the present temple complex was built within two years of its foundation as many poured in.  Dedicated to goddess Meenakshi like the temple of Madurai in Tamilnad, this temple was built by a group of enthusiastic Indians mostly from South India, who are now given distinguished status in the temple as golden seniors whose names are listed as Bala N. Aiyer, S. Alagarsamy, Venugopal K. Menon, Sita Mutyala, Meena Subramaniam, and K.R. Thiagarajan.  The temple housed in over 20 acres of land now houses Meenakshi Sundareswarar, goddess Meenakshi and Vekateswara with his consorts, with a number of deities like Rama group, Ganesha, Subramaniya, Nataraja, Aiyyappa, and Krishna.  Built in perfect form of South Indian Vimanas and a majestic gopura, the temple presents a grand appearance, at the same time retaining an all India character.  The old little Ganesha temple has been retained as the source of inspiration and for historic reasons.

 

Besides the shrines and temples, the complex houses two halls as a Kalyana Mandapam dance theater that can accommodate thousand spectators and the other huge research hall which houses a library.  There is also an annex in which devotees could eat tasty South Indian prasadams which remains always crowded during the week end. Priests from Tamilnad and Andhra who have specialized in Vedas and Agamic rituals codes, look after the daily worship and periodical and annual festivals.  There is a strict following of temple ritual codes combined with a happy blend that goes beyond any sectarian divide.  Within the past twenty years, what was a small Hindu temple area with vast open fields around now has grown into a big town with all marketing facilities cropping up, so much so, the temple identified as the temple of the city of Houston is now called the temple of Pearland.    One of the frequent visitors to the temple of Pearland is the American Mayor of Houston who praises the contribution of the temple the enrichment of the culture and who’s economic growth of their region. 

Recently the temple celebrated the 27th annual festival of the temple consecration, that latest for nine days with flag hoisting rite.  On the 8th day, the festival of coronation of goddess Meenakshi was performed.  On the final day over 1000 devotees congregated to witness the marriage festival of (Kalyanam) goddess Meenakshi with Sundareswara, and Venkateswara with Alarmel Manga and Bhudevi thayar.  It was a grand festival where most women and men in Indian costumes thronged to the marriage hall.  At the end, the women joined hands and danced in traditional South Indian Kummi mode.

The temple is now building a silver chariot for the gods annual festival.  Among many social prospects four scholarships annually (value $750s – around Rs. 40,000) to high school seniors based on merit and need, deserves special mention.

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