Hindu community plans new temple in Katy

Priest emeritus Rajarathna Battar walks around the exterior wall of the Sri Meenakshi Temple, Sept. 5, 2006, in Pearland, Texas. ( Kevin Fujii / Chronicle )

A new Hindu temple is about to take shape in three renovated mobile classrooms in Katy.

The complex of temporary buildings are already at the temple site, 26100 Tina Lane in west Katy, said the priest, Udayakumar Gullapalli.

With a goal of opening in May, the renovation is expected to begin early next year at the 2.4-acre property, he said.

The structures, which have a combined area of about 4,600 square feet, were moved to the property in March, following a February groundbreaking, he said.

The site is in Fort Bend, the nation’s most ethnically diverse county, according to analysis of U.S. Census data byRice University Kinder Institute for Urban Research.

Development of the temple is a shared project of Katy’s Hindu community and Sanatan Dharma Maha Sabha of Trinidad and Tobago, Branch 377.

This organization, most of whose members trace their ancestry to Trinidad and Tobago, encompasses the entire Houston area, said president Edwin Vashal.

“We are joining together with the priest so we can finance the new temple,” said Vashal, a production and design manager for a construction company.

Branch 377 bought the mobile classrooms in early 2012 at an auction in Cypress, Vashal said.

It cost $55,000 to buy the buildings and move them to the Katy site, he said.

So far, temple organizers have raised $23,000 toward the $30,000 renovation, Gullapalli said.

In the Houston area, the Hindu community includes about 200,000 people from various national backgrounds, he said.

Among the 10 to 15 temple organizers is Amaranth Venkateswarlu, an engineer.

“I’m very excited that the temple is coming to Katy, so we can go on a daily basis or at least weekly,” he said. “Now the temples we go to are in Pearland or Sugar Land.”

Potential users include an estimated 500 Indian families who live in Katy, Venkateswarlu said.

While some temples cater to a particular region of India, this one – to be known as Sai Durga Shiva Vishnu Temple– will include dieties from all of India, he said.

According to the temple website, its mission is to provide a Hindu place of worship in Katy, to bring together Katy’s Hindu community and to provide a forum for scholarly discussions of Hindu philosophy and related topics.

The mission also includes establishing a library of Hindu philosophy and religion to help preserve its traditions and cultural heritage.

Rajan Zed, president of the Universal Society of Hinduism based in Reno, Nev., said Monday in an emailed statement that he hoped the new Katy temple would emphasize passing Hindu spirituality, concepts and traditions to future generations in the midst of a consumerist society’s many distractions.

“We should focus on the inner search and realization of self and work towards achieving ‘moksh’ (liberation), … the goal of Hinduism,” he said by email.

Source: http://www.chron.com/