Sri Mariamman Temple

Sri Mariamman Temple, SingaporeThis magnificent structure is Singapore's oldest Hindu temple, dating back to 1827. The brick bones of the present building were built around 1843. Later additions have included a profusion of deities carved all over its walls, bell-decked doors and frescoes on the ceilings.

The firewalking festival, Thimithi, is celebrated here. This is also a preferred venue of most Hindu weddings.

About Hindu Temples

As you enter the gates of the temple, look up at the gopuram or the tower over the entrance of the temple. Covered with figurative sculptures of gods and goddesses and mythological beasts, this tower is visible from afar so devotees can even say their prayers without stepping inside the temple. Notice strings of fresh mango and coconut leaves hanging above temple doors - they are signs of welcome and purity. Do remember to remove your shoes and leave them outside.

At the door, devotees ask God to grant their requests by ringing the bells before entering. They also purify themselves by washing their hands and feet, and sprinkling water on their heads. Near the door, look out for the aluminium enclosure into which devotees break coconuts as a symbol of breaking their egos to reveal their pure and kind inner-selves.

Within the temple compound, remember to walk in a clock-wise direction and only encircle the temple hall an odd number of times as a sign of good luck. Look out for the offerings of bananas (symbol of abundance), mangoes and even sari for the goddesses at the shrine.

Notice the use of the lotus, a symbol of human life to the Hindus, as a decorative motif. As the lotus bud stretches towards the sun despite its roots being embedded in mud; likewise man strives for the spiritual despite being rooted deeply in nature.

Location: 244 South Bridge Road Singapore 058793
Tel: (65) 6223 4064

Getting There: Take the MRT to City Hall Station (EW13/NS25), then take SBS bus 103, 166 or 197 or TIBS bus 61 from North Bridge Road.