Dedication of the Bhalla Pavilion at Methodist Hospital Sugar Land

By Jawahar Malhotra

SUGAR LAND: Though they left their ancestral home of India decades ago to come to the US, both Dr Raj and Kanwal Bhalla never forgot the Indian values that they so dearly treasured – of love for family and friends, discipline to forge an identity, culture, food, religion and above all, to help their fellow men and women.

Dr. Rajinder Pal Singh Bhalla, a veterinarian in the Indian Army, first came to the US in 1960 for a year of study and then went returned to India. After he retired from the Army, he and his wife came back with their two young boys to settle in Long Island, New York. Raj went to work at Charles River Labs in Port Washington, Long Island while Kanwal owned and operated an Indian restaurant called Paul’s Mughlai for ten years.  Nineteen years ago, Raj was transferred to Houston and the Bhallas later retired in Sugar Land.

Inducted as a Freemason from an early age, like his father and brothers, Raj became a Master Mason in June 1964. Soon after moving, he found a Masonic Lodge in Richmond where he has been honored for his acts of service, generosity and brotherhood.

In 2020, realizing that the corona virus had badly damaged many organizations and depleted many of their resources, the Bhallas decided to donate a million dollars to many of their favorite charities. That same year, the Bhallas made a major donation of $500,000 to the Houston Methodist Hospital Foundation, which was completely taken aback by this unexpected gift from a total stranger.

Now, two years later, at a reception held on Friday, November 9 at the Brazos Pavilion Conference Center at the Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital, Hospital executives showed their appreciation in front of over 70 guests – family and friends – of the Bhallas. Alicen Swift, Regional Development Director of the Foundation, Dr. Mark L. Bloom, President & CEO of Houston Methodist and Chris Siebenaler, Regional Vice President and CFO of Houston Methodist Sugar Land Hospital talked about the value of community philanthropy and the impact of generosity.

It was with thoughts of that spirit of Sewa – service – that Dr Bhalla capped his speech, hailing it as a central Tennent of his Sikh faith. He quoted an invocation from the Granth Sahib and asked for a bright future for the Hospital.

After the reception, a plaque bearing the picture of the Bhallas and a description of their generous gift, was unveiled in the lobby of the newly named Bhalla Main Pavilion, in front of admiring family and friends. The new name is already attached to the outside top edge of the port cochere, where the guests later assembled for a memorable picture.