HWS Bhoomi Puja for New Shiv Mandir and Construction Starts

From left, Rajinder Soni, Bal Sareen and Ravi Goel engaged in the bhoomi puja ceremonies under the direction of Pandit Bhawani Shankar Shastri ji.



Houston: several months of planning and design effort for the Shiv Temple at the Hindu Worship Society, a bhumi puja was held on Friday, July 24 at a mahurat (auspicious time) decided by HWS priest Bhawani Shankar Shastri ji. City and county guidelines were observed for the ceremony, which was attended, by a limited number of people.

Puja participants included HWS Trustees Board President Bal Sareen, HWS President Ravi Goel and HWS Shiv Mandir project committee chair Rajinder Soni, accompanied by their spouses Rita Sareen, Aruna Goel and Meera Soni.  Also included was Dilip Patel, a project committee member. Another devoted member Prabhat Sharma could not attend. Mahesh Wadhwa, the project architect and his spouse Shashi attended the function.

Raghu Iyer, managing director of IECONI – the selected project contractor – and his crew started construction activities soon after the puja.

After forming the project committee and hiring the Wadhwa Architects work started on the Shiv Mandir project in mid-2018. Presentations were made to HWS devotees after incorporating input from executive committee members.

COVID-19 has given a fair amount of setbacks to the HWS which has had to postpone the Mata Ki Chowki and fundraiser which planned for April.

To support the community at large, the HWS donated to SEWA International and also hosted a very successful food distribution drive for the over 200 needy families of the neighboring communities.

HWS has decided to commence with this important Shiv Mandir project with cautious optimism hoping that the devotees and donors will help complete this project. 

Soon after the bhumi puja was finished, Rita and Bal Sareen made a generous donation of $25,000 to insure adequate funds for completion of the project and other needs and repairs such as painting, new roof air conditioning and a new audio/video system

Hindu worship society is the oldest Hindu place of worship, started in 1969 by four like-minded Hindu Americans to insure that Hindu families in Houston and surrounding areas would be exposed to Hinduism and its cultural values.  In its early years, HWS held weekly gatherings at member’s homes, and rented school and church halls. A few years later, HWS a purchased the vacant property of its present location and built a foundation slab. For years, HWS conducted weekly pujas on this slab and members had to often run for shelters whenever unexpected showers arrived. After three well-attended fundraisers HWS had the funds to construct the current temple hall. Another phase was built through some generous donations and interest free loans for the arrival and installation of life size deities and a building for the residence of the priest and his family and a guesthouse.

As a good member of the at-large community, HWS has performed many functions including blood drives and active participation in initiatives like Hands Around Houston. HWS also hosted a special puja for the ailing late Gyani Zail Singh, then the President of India when he came to Houston for heart surgery by world-renowned surgeon Dr. Denton Cooley. His family attended the pujas along with officials from the Indian Embassy in Washington DC. HWS also held exchange programs with local churches and delivered lectures to students at Rice University.

Normal Temple timings are Monday to Saturday 8 am to 10 am, 6 pm to 8 pm Sunday 8 am to 4 pm aarti at 1:00 pm. Due to COVID-19 these timings are being observed in compliance local city and county guidelines and all pujas are being offered on-line.

HWS’ full time resident priest, Pandit Bhawani Shankar Shastri ji is available to perform most of the pujas and rituals, both at the temple or devotees’ homes.

To list a few, these are Kathaand Paravchan – shrimadbhagvtum, shree ram katha, geeta paravachan,sundarkand path, shri satyanarayan katha, bhoomi pooja, grahapravesh (with vastu shanti puja), Navgraha-Shanti pooja, including havan for all pujas. He can be contacted a 713-957-4608 or 832-278-0100

HWS management is currently led by President Ravi Goel, Secretary Ashima Patel and members Nisha Bhatia, Ranjan Lashkari and Pramod Barnwal. HWS is also governed by a Board of Trustees that Includes Dr. Durga Agarwal, Bal Sareen and Sandeep Soni.