Last summer I visited Singapore for the fifth or sixth time and, unsurprisingly, once again it wowed me with its diverse culture, delicious food and glorious warm climate. I wish I could return every year but so many places, so little time… Though it seems that these days being religiously affiliated/devoted (in any sense) is somewhat démodé, my personal experiences have always been diverse, inclusive and positive, and when planning a trip, one of the first things I look into is religious architecture. Singapore, with its diverse ethnology and secular society, was no exception and, being such a small country, evidence of its citizens beliefs in Buddhism, Confucianism, Islam and Christianity, not to mention Hinduism and Taoism, abound. There are also synagogues, which sadly I didn’t have time to visit.
In Chinatown, I visited the oldest Hindu temple – the Sri Mariamman Temple, which has been granted National Monument status due its significance within Singaporean society. I paid a small entrance fee plus an additional amount (in total less than £2) which permitted me to take photographs. Built in 1827, the temple served as place of community, something it maintains today. Newly-arrived immigrants sought refuge here, weddings were conducted here and people gathered to share experiences. Today, this continues with the fortunate addition of curious tourists being allow in.
The boldness of the colours and statues stands out, the welcoming nature of the employees and worshipers was just delightful and although I felt completely overwhelmed as people prayed, the priest led his congregation and tourists thronged in and out, I felt what I always feel in a place of worship: peace, happiness and an overwhelming sense that no matter what we believe, we can all be and do good.
Sri Mariamman Temple
244 South Bridge Road