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Sri Mariamman Temple

The Sri Mariamman Hindu Temple is the oldest Hindu temple located in Singapore. It was established in 1827, called Mariamman Kovil or Kling Street Temple in those times and was built for devotion by immigrants living in South India. The temple was erected in dedication to Mariamman, a goddess famous for her healing of epidemic illnesses and diseases. The temple can be found in the centre of ChinaTown. Its decorative entrance has served as a landmark for many descendants of Hindu followers and Singaporoeans.

Singapore Sri Mariamman TempleMr Naraina Pillai, a cleark who worked with British East India Company in Penang came up with the idea to build Sri Mariamman Temple. It is believed that Mr Pillai journeyed along side of Sir Stamford Raffles (Founder of Singapore) when he was on his second visit to the island in the year 1819. Mr Pillai was responsible for setting up the very first brick kiln in Singapore. He quickly then became recognised in business and was known to be a leader of Indians.

During colonial times the Sri Mariamman temple was used as a refuge camp for new immigrants. They occupied the temple until they found a job or their own place to live. In addition the temple was known to be a very important central point for community activities and served as the Registry of Marriages for Hindus. At this time the temple's priest was the only person who given permission to make Hindu marriages official. In present time, the temple not only cherishes and upholds Hindu traditions and other religious events but also promotes social, cultural and educational activities.

In later years the walls of the temple was carved with a plethora of deities, bell-decked doors and frescoes on the ceilings. In 1996 the temple had its latest renovation with many more before that time since it was built in 1827.

Upon enter the gates of the temple, take a glance at the tower or gopuram that lies above the entrance. You can see a lot of decorative carvings of gods and goddesses and mythological beasts. The temple can be viewed from a far distance with clarity so worshipers from afar can chant their prayers without entering the inside the temple. There are signs of welcome and purity at the doors of the temple to greet you. These signs are in the form of strings of fresh mango and coconut leaves hanging above temple doors.

Before entering it is important that you follow some rituals not only for this temple but for all other Hindu temples. While at the door worshipers ask God to answer their prayers by ringing bells. Also they wash their hands and feet and sprinkle water on their heads as a form of purification. Near the door lies an aluminium enclosure. Within this area worshipers gather to break coconuts which symbolises the cracking of their egoic nature and revealing their pure inner selves.

When in the compound of the temple, devotees walk in a clock-wise direction and only surround the hall of the temple on odd number of times for a symbol of good luck. In addition persons offer of bananas (which symbolises abundance), mangoes and saris for the goddesses in the temple. There is also the lotus, a decorative ornamentation which symbolises human life to the hindus.

In the month of October you can see a huge crowd gathered to witness the Hindu fire walking festival known as Thimith celebrated at the temple on South Bridge road. The celebration is said to be a form of penance or thanksgiving in honour of the goddess Draupadi, female lead of the classic poem, the Mahabharata. It was told from ancient times that Draupadi had to walk barefooted over a pit of hot coals to prove her innocence. Many Hindus now follow this trend and walk barefooted on hot coals without portraying any signs of pain.

The temple, now a National monument, is also a favoured spot for Hindu weddings.

 

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