Lord Shiva temple in Texas
The Chinmaya Mission of Houston, Texas, called Chinmaya Prabha, has established a Shiva temple at its premises in Sugar Land.
The temple has an imposing dome, a replica of the Shivalinga, the main deity of the temple. The Sri Saumyakasi Shiva temple was inaugurated during weeklong festivities and ceremonies, presided over by Swami Tejomayananda, spiritual head of the Chinmaya Mission organization worldwide, before many devotees.
The celebration began with worship of Swami Chinmayananda, founder of the Chinmaya Mission, as his vision of building a Shiva temple in Houston became a reality. Decorated floats carried the idols of Ganesa, Shivalinga, Shiva, Rama and Sita and Radha and Krishna into the temple premises to the accompaniment of special prayers and chanting.
Brightly dressed children, women and men danced along the way. Several pujas were performed in accordance with Vedic scriptures. The Gangastotram was chanted to sanctify the water to be used during the ceremonies. A Vastu Santi puja was performed to cleanse and purify the temple premises before being used.
Other ceremonies included the Ganapati homam, a fire ritual where oblations were offered to Lord Ganapati, marking the beginning of the ceremonies for the inauguration of the temple; the Kalasa puja, where the kalasas (pots) filled with the holy water were worshipped, the Murti Sthapana homam where the deities were installed in place, and the Shivasahasranama puja, by which the members invoked the blessings of Lord Shiva.
The most important puja in the inauguration of a temple is the Kumbhabhishekam. Kumbha is the kalasa with divine water from the Kalasa puja. This kalasa is carried on the head to the temple. Holy water is used to bathe the deity — transferring its divinity to the murti (idol).
Hundreds of devotees made their way up the steps of the temple with kalasas on their heads, and bathed the idol with the spiritually-charged water. Swami Tejomayananda consecrated the temple.
In his inaugural address, the swami explained that the dome of the temple in the shape of Shivalinga symbolized the nature of the divine, with no beginning and no end. The Shiva idol represents what the eyes could see as a form, while the Shivalinga symbolizes the self or the attributeless god within one’s own heart.
He urged the congregation to find time to pray within one’s heart and mind, at least once a day. In this context, he said, God does not care about one’s ‘ability’ or ‘inability,’ but ‘availability.’
‘God gives and forgives, whereas we always get and forget,’ he said.
Every evening, Swami Tejomayananda delivered discourses on Shiva Stuti from the Ramacaritamanasa and explained the qualities of Lord Shiva. Acharya Gaurang Nanavaty of the Chinmaya Mission Houston said Swami Chinmayananda had envisioned the construction of a congregation hall, classrooms for Sunday school children and a Shiva temple.
Along with the fulfillment of Swami Chinmayananda’s vision, the greater Houston Hindu community also has got a place of worship for generations to come, Nanavaty said.
‘Soaring on the wings of faith we had embarked on a sacred journey some 20 years ago that of bringing Bhagavan Shiva to Chinmaya Prabha. Today, as all of us flocked to our very own Shivalaya my heart brimmed with joy and appreciation for you all,’ he said.
The rituals were conducted by Achutha Ramiah, Manickasundara Bhattar and N Kalyana Sundaram from the Meenakshi temple, Houston, and Narasimman Kannan Battar from the New Orleans temple. They were joined by Brother Bhasa Chaitanya, the head priest of the Shivalaya.
An abridged version of the rituals was conducted for the Balavihar students who missed the ceremonies because they were at school. All the pujas were explained and performed briefly, and each child bathed the form of Lord Shiva with holy water. A representation of the temple created with candles and a firework display also awaited them.