Sri Meenakshi Temple’s Main Temple Renovation Project Bhoomi Puja (Ground-breaking Ceremony)

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By Dr. Venugopal Menon

PEARLAND: It was another auspicious inauguration, another stride in the celestial course of the inspiring chronicle of Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland.  It was the Bhoomi Puja of its Main Temple expansion on Sunday, November 2.

On a serenely bright and balmy morning, about 300 devotees were blessed to participate in the once-in-a-lifetime sacred observance of initiating the second stage of the temple’s revered evolution. Adhering to all the time-honored, devout conventions prescribed by the Agamic traditions, Sri Meenakshi Temple celebrated the Ground-breaking ceremony on the weekend that saved an hour with the daylight savings.

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Thirty-five years ago, Houston Hindus were blessed with Sri Meenakshi Temple, the first Shakthi Temple outside of India.  It was a promising beginning and a propitious trend that followed with the establishment of several hundred temples in the continental United States.

To accommodate the ever growing needs of its devotees, a new Lakshmi Sanctum, Prakarams around the three main deities (Sri Meenakshi, Sri Sundareswara and Sri Venkateswara) and overall extension of space are included as the objectives of this project.

The auspicious initiation of any new construction is the traditional and customary ‘Bhoomi Puja’ (Ground-breaking ceremony), in which devotees request and get permission from Mother Earth to build on her sacred grounds and to ask for forgiveness for the disruption of living beings on the land.

The event started at 8.30 am with Ganapathy Homam, and Abhishekam for Prasanna Ganapathy.  Following the Puja, devotees proceeded in a procession around the outer prakaram, entering through the Rajagopuram,  doing Aarthi at all the four main sanctums.  This was followed by the Bhoomi Puja on the north side of the temple, at the site where the future Mahalakshmi Sanctum is to be constructed.  All the priests participated in the Puja and placed the Navarthnas, the nine jewels and the Navadhanyam, the nine grains symbolizing auspiciousness, abundance and prosperity in any endeavor.

Honorable Mayor of Pearland Tom Reid was present for the whole event. A unique feature of the event was the participation of the Vedic Heritage School students of MTS, over 100 of them arriving through the West Gopuram guided by their Gurus, and offering flowers at the site.  Afterwards, they joined the group and recited the stanzas of sacred ‘Manthra Pushpam’, from Yajur Veda, normally sung as a chorus after pujas.  This was followed by Devi Sthuthi in praise of Goddess Meenakshi, recited by the priests and repeated by all the devotees.

After the conclusion of the Puja, the Ground-breaking Ceremony was conducted in which devotees participated by digging up a piece of the earth using the sanctified shovel.  To be involved in the construction of a temple, breaking the ground and offering the Navadhanyam in Bhoomi Puja, is considered to be the ultimate Karma for a Hindu.

By noon , there were 550 people participating in the event. The Pujas concluded with Maha Aarthi to Goddess Meenakshi inside the main temple.  A traditional, delicious feast was served at the Youth Center after the conclusion of the religious observance.

The Construction Committee is finalizing the meticulous details of the plans and the project is expecting to be completed within a year.