Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, dating back to 1827. The temple was built for use by immigrants from South India. Singapore’s oldest hindu temple is located in the central parts of Chinatown. The temple is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman, known for curing illnesses and diseases. In 1962 a new temple structure was developed with the beautiful sculptures that crowd its interior and exterior today. Adjacent to the temple on Pagoda Street is a 3-storey complex hosting an auditorium (often for weddings, meetings, and cultural events) and other rooms to service the Hindu community. While the temple was initially supposed to be built along Telok Ayer, that area did not have a convenient source of fresh water—imperative for Hindu rituals.
The Sri Mariamman temple style is based on the South Indian Dravidian style of architecture, which consists of pyramid-shaped temples with huge towers of intricately carved stones. Indeed, the first thing you notice about this place of worship is its 6-tiered ornamental tower entrance, or gopuram, which is carved with sculptures of Hindu deities and other cultural figures. The tiers are slightly pyramidical in shape, with each tier being slightly smaller than the one beneath it. This technique gives an illusion of the tower’s being even taller than it really is.
Next to the gopuram are two sculptures: one of Murugan on the right, and one of Krishna on the left. Murugan is the patron deity of the Tamil land, and is the god of war. The role of Krishna in Hinduism is too complex to discuss here. Let’s just say that he often is depicted as a blue-skinned cowherd boy playing his flute. He is greatly beloved as a divine warrior, gentle lover, and teacher of philosophy.
Note the doors when you walk in: They are huge and imposing, and their size is to remind the worshippers of their small stature in relation to the divine. Devotees will ring the bells on the door, in order to bring good luck.
Within the temple interior, worshippers will walk in a clock-wise direction; they will only encircle the temple hall an odd number of times in order to have good luck. The spiritual center of the temple is the central shrine of Mariamman, flanked on either side by Rama and Murugan. Other shrines in the temple are devoted to the deities Durga, Ganesh, Muthularajah, Aravan, and Draupadi.
The most important thing about this temple, however, is its use as a vibrant focal point of Hindu life in Singapore today.
Location of Temple
The Sri Mariamman temple is located in Chinatown at 244 South Bridge Road ,Singapore 058793 ,Singapore.
Phone number – (+65) 6223 4064
Temple was made by Shri Naraina Pillay – First Indian and Tamil Pioneer Of Singapore; accompanied Stamford Raffles in 1819; the first brick maker And building contractor of Singapore; The earliest Indian community leader Of Singapore. Shri Naraina Pillay was a government clerk in Penang and would have come to the attention of Stamford Raffles who was in 1805 the assistant secretary to the Governor of Penang which was founded by the East India Company in 1786. Raffles must have found Naraina Pillay a dependable, honest and versatile person that he selected him to accompany him during his second visit to Singapore in May 1819.
Soon after his arrival in Singapore, Sh. Naraina Pillay established himself in Singapore. He became a business man with all the qualities of a leader and pioneer; he had his finger in so many pies. He set up the first kiln in Singapore to bake bricks and also became the first building contractor in the Settlement. Jane Beamish and Jane Ferguson in their book ‘A History of Singapore Architecture’ write: ‘Pillay started the first Singapore brick company, an operation that was to make him not only rich but a fundamental contributor to the history of Singapore’s early architecture’.
Sri Naraina Pillay opened a shop to sell cotton piece goods which were in great demand in Singapore. A tragedy hit Sri Naraina Pillay when fire burnt his shop and he went bankrupt in 1822. Raffles helped Sri Naraina Pillay to restore his fortunes. This is clear evidence of Raffles’ concern for the Tamil pioneer who became one again a wealthy merchant. He had a shop in Commercial Square (Raffles Place).
Later, he asked a few carpenters, brick-layers and cloth merchants from Penang to come to Singapore to join him; one such merchant was Viahpoory.
In early 1823 Naraina Pillay obtained the present site to build the Sri Marimman Temple in South Bridge Road.
The first site offered by the government for the Temple was in Telok Ayer Street but there was no fresh water close to the site. The Resident, Major William Farquhar then offered an alternative site near the Bras Basah stream (the present Stamford Canal). The exact location is not known. The Town Planning Committee eventually advised Naraina Pillay to build the Temple on the present site at South Bridge Road.
About Goddess Mariamman
Sri Mariamman the Mother Goddess nourishes and protects all beings. Sri Mariamman is associated with rain, she gives life, nurtures and sustains it. She is the source of all energy without which nothing moves in this world . She has various forms which describe her attributes in eloquent appearances. The Mother Goddess is also called Devi, the divine, the celestial and the first to be worshipped . She is the gentle and loving Nirmala, the pure, peerless or incomparable. She also carries the name of Kalyani and Sumangali or Shankari, one who confers happiness and prosperity. As Rajeswari she is the ruler of the Universe and as Kali, the deity that destroys evil. The deity Mariamman can be traced as far back as 4,000 years ago to the Indus Valley civilization of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa in North West and it is believed to be a Dravidian civilization.
Daily: 7.30am to 11.30am and 5.30pm to 8.30pm
Tips for Travelers
- Keep this information handy for when you want to visit. The temple is located at 244 South Bridge Road, Singapore, 058793.
- To get there, you can take the MRT to City Hall Station and then take the SBS Transit bus (103, 166 or 197) or the North Bridge Road SMRT (Bus 61).
- As in all other places of worship, remember that it is best to dress conservatively.
Getting There and around
Take the MRT to City Hall Station (EW13/NS25), then take SBS Transit bus 103, 166 or 197 or SMRT Bus 61 from North Bridge Road.
Some other famous Hindu temples in Singapore
Sri Arasakesari Sivan Temple
Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple
Sri Sivan Temple
Sri Krishna Mandir
Sri Ruthra Kaliamman Temple
Sri Siddhartha Temple
Sri Lakshmi Narayanan Temple
Sri Lion Sithi Vinayagar Temple
Sri Muneeswarar Temple
Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple
Sri Thendayuthapani Temple
Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple
Sri Bala Subramaniam Temple
Sri Thendayuthapani Temple,
Sri Vadapathira Kaliamman Temple
Sri Veerama Kaliamman Temple
Sri Arasakesari Sivan Temple
Sri Ramar Temple
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