Raj Kumar Syal, considered a pillar of the Houston Hindu community, died at the age of 86 on Oct. 1.
He is survived by his wife, Krishna Syal, three children and two grand children.
Reacting to the loss of her life partner, Krishna Syal said: “He was a good man,”
Due to Covid-19, private funeral service is set for Oct. 10, to be attended by close family members.
Raj Syal moved to Houston in 1963. He is the founder of Hindus of Greater Houston, co-founder of India Culture Center and Hindu Worship Society.
Raj Syal conceived the idea of celebrating Janmashtami festival in 1989 with the motto “Bringing Hindus together,” celebrating Lord Krishna and fostering unity and harmony among all.
His sincere efforts in establishing and running community service organizations earned him the deep respect of the entire community.
Hindus of Greater Houston especially owes its gratitude to him for his pioneering efforts as the community leader. And deservedly, Hindus of Greater Houston conferred him with the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014.
Syal was born in 1934 and after early education in the village Bilga near Ludhiana, Syal graduated from DAV College, Jalandhar, Punjab. He continued his education at Texas A & M University and the University of Houston.
Beth Kulkarni adds: “Raj Kumar Syal-ji, beloved, long-time Indian-American resident of the Houston area and most recently of The Woodlands, was one of the earliest Indian-Americans in Houston arriving in the 1960’s. He was a leader and an active volunteer, in addition to working for the Texas Department of Highways (now known as TxDOT.)
Among his first service to the local community was bringing Indian films to the University of Houston campus for the benefit of the students and families who were homesick for India and its culture.
forerunner of Sri Meenakshi Temple in Pearland as well as Hindu Worship Society in Houston.
In 1973, he was one of the founders of the India Culture Center and in 1989 he co-founded the Hindus of Greater Houston.
Raj Syal was not merely a leader who only provided helpful guidance again and again to the organizations he helped found, but he performed many tasks that others might consider menial.
He helped design the first parking driveway at Sri Meenakshi Temple, and turned the dirt poured the asphalt to construct the driveway. He climbed on top of the roof of Hindu Worship Society to repair the roof.
Syal personally cooked wheat prasad at the temple numerous times. He did not consider himself too “high” to clean temple bathrooms before people arrived on Sundays. In his later years, he was a member of the Hindu Temple of The Woodlands Senior Forum where he always had a smile and a pleasant word for all.
Raj Syal was truly a Sevak and an inspiration to the entire Indian-American and Hindu-American community. We will greatly miss him.”