50,000 attend reopening of iconic temple

50,000 attend reopening of iconic temple

Braving the morning shower, 50,000 devotees packed the iconic Sri Veeramakaliamman temple in Little India yesterday, which has just undergone a $7 million makeover.

The temple at 141 Serangoon Road, which has just been gazetted for conservation, marked its reopening after two years of restoration with a consecration ceremony.

All Hindu temples undergo renovations and repairs every 12 years, and the temple and its deities have to be declared sacred again through a ritual known as Maha Kumbabhishekam, which involves the pouring of holy water. Hindus believe witnessing it will bring them peace and prosperity.

Yesterday's ceremony started at 7.30am along Race Course Road, with priests carrying vessels of holy water on their heads and walking in a procession towards the temple. There, they performed a series of rituals before pouring the holy water from the top of its tower, an act believed to infuse the place with divine energy.

Members of the public were also invited to enter the temple and receive blessings.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam graced yesterday's event, along with Transport Minister Lui Tuck Yew and Central Singapore District Mayor Denise Phua.

This is the temple's third consecration ceremony since it was built in 1855. The last ceremony was in 2000.

The temple was founded by Tamil pioneers in 1835, who first built a small clay shrine at the site to pray to the goddess Veeramakaliamman for protection, prosperity, health and knowledge.

Now, it is much grander, with its main tower and eight domes restored and freshly painted.

The temple complex also has a new six-storey building that houses facilities such as a wedding hall, dining halls and multi-purpose rooms. It is visited by 5,000 devotees every Sunday, and has a congregation that has grown by about 30 per cent in the last decade.

Said temple secretary R. Selvakumar, 59: "We thought the rain would spoil the show, but our devotees never failed us and they showed up."

The consecration was particularly memorable as the temple was gazetted for conservation this month, he added.

Ms S. Mageswari, 66, has been to all of the temple's consecration ceremonies. The nurse, who has frequented the temple for about 30 years, said: "This occasion is very significant as the temple is like my second home.

"It's a chance of a lifetime to witness this ceremony; maybe the next time I won't be around."

Yesterday also marked the start of a 48-day cultural festival at the temple, which will showcase musicians and singers from Singapore and India.

ateng@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on June 23, 2014.
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