NAVASOTA, Texas — Thirty years ago, Brazos Valley residents practicing Hinduism had nowhere outside of their homes to worship. Today, they have the Omkarnath Temple of Navasota.
Every time he rings the temple bell, Dr. Krishna Shanmugam thinks of God. It’s a special tradition that he and his fellow congregants with the Hindu Society of the Brazos Valley get to partake in.
“God is everywhere and in each human being," Shanmugam said. "... and one of our tenants is, as you build your life, to connect with that version of God that is within you, and to help find that version of God and be the best person you can be.”
Shanmugam was born and raised in Bryan-College Station, and graduated from Texas A&M. He was just 11 years old when people of varying Hindu denominations came together to provide one place of worship for those living north of Houston.
"There’s always been a very loyal core group of North Indians, South Indians, and Nepalese people not concentrating on their differences, but concentrating on what brings them together to build a temple that was inclusive, diverse and accepting,” he said.
Throughout this weekend, over a thousand worshipers from Buffalo to Brenham will come together with the Hindu Society of the Brazos Valley to pray, worship god, play music, dance, eat and celebrate the temple's 25-year anniversary.
Chief priest Pandit Hrushikesh Panda will help guide the ceremonies.
"This [congregation] are just like family," Hrushikesh Panda said. "So today we are celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary.”
The temple not only serves all Hindu practitioners in the Brazos Valley, but acts as a haven for 2,000 Indian students who attend Texas A&M graduate school. The anniversary celebration will be a time to give thanks, and to reflect on the blessing of living in such a blended community, in such a supportive place as Aggieland.
“One thing about Bryan-College Station I’ve always found, is it is a very warm, accepting and tolerant community," Shanmugam said. "And being a university town, we have people from all walks of life and all over the world. That has been a huge blessing to this Hindu community.”
Festivities start Friday night with dinner and Pooja.