Hindu Worship Society Elects Ravi Goel as President for 2019-2021

HWS Board members: L to R: Ravi Goel, Nisha Bhatia, Ashima Patel and Promod Bhanwal. Ranjan Lashkari was not present for the picture.

BY MANU SHAH

HOUSTON: The Hindu Worship Society (HWS) has the distinction of being the second oldest Hindu temple in Houston. Founded in 1969 by a handful of Hindu Americans who wanted to sustain and practice their Hindu traditions, the temple moved to its present location in 1980. As the congregation grew, the South Indian members of the temple left to start the Sri Meenakshi Temple Society and HWS began serving the North Indian community primarily, providing spiritual, moral and ritualistic aspects of worship.

The temple’s prestige suffered a brief setback due to differences among its board members but in 2015, the Society was taken over by a new management team. Bal Sareen, well-known philanthropist and highly respected Houstonian was elected President and he devoted a great deal of his time, resources and efforts in restoring the temple’s stature. He recently stepped down and Ravi Goel, an active member has been elected President for 2019 – 2021. Other Board members include Ashima Patel – Secretary, Nisha Bhatia – Treasurer, website manager and Children Events Coordinator, Ranjan Lashkari – Temple events Coordinator and Promod Bhanwal – Facility Maintenance. The three trustees are Sandeep Soni, Dr. Durga Agrawal and Bal Sareen. In the last few years, the temple has been drawing a number of devotees who come to practice their faith and spirituality.

The temple is dedicated to Lord Ram, Laxman and Sita, Lord Krishna and Radha and Maa Durga. Resident temple priest Pandit Shree Bhawani Shankar Shastri is well versed in Vedic Literature such as the Upanishads, Bhaagvat Purana, Shreemad Bhagwad Geeta and Valmiki Ramayana. He performs the daily pujas and rituals according to traditional Vedic conventions and holds discourses every Sunday on the teachings of the Gita and its modern applications as well as other scriptures. He also performs weddings and other significant rites of passage in a Hindu’s life such as naming ceremonies, death rites, the shraadh ceremony (prayers for our ancestors) and even car pujas.

A feature of the temple is its free Sunday Prasad or lunch usually hosted by a member of the congregation for a celebration or in memory of a relative. The puja starts at 11:30 am with bhajans, a spiritual discourse, the chanting of Hanuman Chalisa and Aarati followed by a vegetarian lunch cooked in the temple kitchen. The onsite kitchen can cater to 400 people at a time and has adequate parking for visitors.

As Ravi steps into his new role as President, his future plans include reviving the Hindi classes, inviting speakers in English to offer discourses and celebrating the main festivals of Holi, Diwali, Shivaratri and Dashehra in a grander fashion. The temple also holds the Mata Jagran (all night vigil) three times a year. It will stick to its ritualistic style of worship and will propagate the spiritual, moral and cultural values of Hinduism.

An engineer from Amritsar, Punjab, Ravi came to the US in 1973 to pursue his higher studies. In 1986, he turned entrepreneur and started Hardy Machine and Design, Inc., which manufactures parts for the oil field industry. He is also a founder member of Hindus of Greater Houston and recalls the early years when he would collect the props and other material after the Janmastami celebrations ended at midnight and take them back to his office where he would store it until the following year.

Growing up in a “conservative Hindu family,” Ravi was accustomed to going to the temple and performing pujas from an early age and he continued this practice when he came to the US. According to him, being a good Hindu means serving the family, community and your adopted country, love for the poor and needy and respect for the environment. He believes that praying to the deities is “a means of concentrating your mind and body on the Supreme Being.”

HWS’s new President and his wife Aruna, who is equally involved with the temple activities, also pray at other temples like BAPS, the Sri Meenakshi Temple, Arya Samaj and Chinmaya Mission. As he philosophically puts it “everyone worships in their own style but the goal is the same.”

The temple is located at 2223 Wirtcrest Lane, Houston Texas 77055. For more information, contact HWS.Temple@gmail.com or call 713-957-4608.

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