Monday, November 22, 2010

Arulmigu Sri Raja Kaliamman Temple, Johor Baru, Malaysia - The only Hindu Glass Temple abroad

The main temple is dedicated to Kaali, the Divine Mother, here worshipped as Sri Raja Kaliamman Maha Kaali, Thillai Kaali, the Saviour of the universe. The floor of this temple also is paved with granite. The basalt image of the mother, dressed in gorgeous gold brocade, stands on a white marble image of the prostrate body of her Divine Consort, Siva, the symbol of Absolute. On the feet of the goddess are, among other ornaments, anklets of gold. Her arms are decked with jewelled ornaments of gold.

She wears necklaces of gold and pearls, a golden crown, golden earrings, and a golden nose ring with pearl drop. She has eight arms. The lower left hand holds a severed human head and the upper grips a blood stained sabre. One right hand offers boons to her children, the other allays their fear. The majesty of her posture can hardly be described. It combines the terror of destruction with the reassurance of motherly tenderness.

For she is the cosmic power, the totality of the universe, her glorious harmony of the pairs of opposite. She deals out death as she creates the preserves. She has three eyes, the third being the symbol of divine wisdom: they strike dismay into the wicked, yet pour out affection for her devotees.

From of the beginning to the Building of the 1996 temple with three tiered Raja Gopuram. Arulmigu Sri Raja Kaliamman Temple is one of the oldest temple in Malaysia, It has been in existence since 1922 on a piece of land bequeathed to the Indians by the generosity of then Sultan of Johor His Majesty Sultan Sir Ibrahim Iskandar Al Masyur Ibni Al Marhum Sultan Sir Abu Bakar known as one of the richest men in the world during his reign (1895-1959) of 64 years. The longest in recent Malaysian history.

The temple building built in 1922 was demolished in 1989 to make way for a new temple during the Chairmanship of Mr. Sivasamy (Chairman 1970-1996). Unfortunately the expected co-operation from the public did not materialize and many of the management committee left leaving Mr Sivasamy to carry on. Prayers continued to be conducted in the temporary shed that had been erected.

Then came a young graduate teacher Sinnathamby being his name, into history of the temple (and he would go into the world history of Temple building 18 years later). He was only 21 when the old temple building was demolished in 1989. Then itself he was dreaming of a grand temple that should be built for Sri Raja Kaliamman, although it was the temple committee’s could not build the temple, being Mr Sivasamy’s son, he took upon himself, with the blessings of the Divine Mother, the building of the temple as a worthy abode for the Divine Mother which would become one of the well known Hindu temples in the world.

The temple had its Kumbabishegam on the 25th of August 1996. Thousands of devotees gathered to witness the ceremony and view the beautiful new temple, All the credit goes to then 29 years old Mr Sinnathamby who took all the effort and made it possible against the odds to have built a temple with three tiered Raja Gopuram. He had even delayed his marriage to his fiancé for seven years vowing that he will only get married after the temple in consecrated.

Mr Sinnathamby has been conducting poojai in the temple since 1991 in Tamil, often chanting and singing in praise of mother Kaliamman. From the same year he stopped blood offerings. In the year 2000 he introduced the red dress code for members of the Kaali family (temple members). This was to instil discipline and self discipline and self esteem. Others devotees to the temple too wear red when involved in religious rituals during festivals.

He did not stop at temple building. Realizing that many of our youths are involved in social ills ThiruGuru started his mission to fight the evil influences among our youth and to provide social services. He established and organization NYANA YUTHAM FOUNDATION in 2001 with the aim of instilling moral and spiritual values and helping in the education of our youth.


The glasswork of the temple is made up of 500,000 glass pieces. One might take it as buying that many pieces and pasting it on he walls. No! It is not as simple as that. 500,000 glass pieces were imported from Thailand, Japan Belgium in 6 colours, namely blue, red, yellow, green, purple and silver, were bought cut different shapes and used.

The design for this mammoth task was done by ThiruGuru. The work was done under his supervision by nine Myanmar artisans.

Ninety five percent of the interior walls of the temple is covered by glasswork. The same goes for the Raja Gopuram and Moolasthanam Gopuram in the existerior.

300,000 rudraksha beads cover the interior walls of Siva Sannithi. Motive and symbols swastika, lingam and namam and other intricate designs adorn the walls gopurams.

The cost of renovations was RM3 million (about one million US Dollars). An amount of RM 400,000 was from the State Government and the rest from the public. The three million figure includes the building of a three storey multipurpose hall named hall named Sri Bhagawan Sitthar Peedam.

The temple was completed and consecration ceremony was held on 25th October 2009 and a crowd of 30,000 people witnessed it. Since the hundreds of people have been visiting it every week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Sri Sivan Temple, Geylang, Singapore

It has been recorded that the Sri Sivan Temple was rebuilt as a solid structure in the early 1850's at the Orchard Road site under which the Dhoby Ghaut MRT station is located. The Sivalinga was known to be worshiped at this site well before 1850. The Sivalinga had moved three times within Singapore once from Potong Pasir to a spot in the lower end of Dhoby Ghaut, then to a site near where MacDonald House Stands today, and then on to the Orchard Road site where it used to be until 1983.

In 1898, a further phase of the recorded development of the Sri Sivan Temple began. The reconstruction work took several years to complete. One Mr V Nagappa Chetty and his wife were responsible for this, largely with their own funds and from donations collected from local Hindus.

An order placing Sri Sivan Temple under the Mohammedan and Hindu Endowments Board (set up in 1907) was gazetted on October 18, 1915. In 1968, the Hindu Endowments Board (HEB) was formed to manage four temples including the Sri Sivan Temple.

During the Second World War, some of the statues of secondary deities and a part of the temple structure were damaged by shells that landed around it. Towards the end of the war, renovations were made to the temple and a consecration ceremony was held in July 1943. In 1954, the Municipal Commissioners wanted the temple to be setback 14 feet from the road to widen Orchard Road. After long drawn discussions, a compromise was reached between the Board and the City Council. In consideration of the temple giving up 490 sq. feet of the front land, the temple was given $50,000 and allowed to be rebuilt at the same site. Plans to rebuild the temple were drawn up in 1957. Local contractors completed the construction works in April 1962 and skilled crafts men from India carried out the sculptural and ornamental works. The consecration ceremony was held on December 9, 1964.

In 1983, the Government decided to acquire the land on which the temple stood. An MRT station was to be built underground. Therefore, a transit temple was built next to the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple at Serangoon Road while a more suitable and permanent site was being identified. All the god-forms from the Orchard Road Temple were installed in the new site at Serangoon Road which allowed for all daily prayers and festivals celebrated to be continued. The Hindu Endowments Board had intended to make the new temple unique in appearance, features and facilities. The Board and the management committee of the temple consulted well-known temple architects in India. The Board sent a team to study the best of both the North and South Indian Temples. What followed was a unique design with an octagonal structure with a multi-purpose hall and staff quarters. The new temple was built at a cost of $6 million on a 3,000 sq. meter plot at Geylang East. The new site is about four-and-a-half times bigger than the temple's former site at Orchard Road. After ten years of temporary residence at Serangoon Road, the Sri Sivan Temple was consecrated at its present Geylang East site on May 30 1993.

Major festivals celebrated at Sri Sivan Temple are Maha Sivarathiri, Vasantha Navarathiri, Guru Peryarchi, Navarathiri and Skantha Shasti.

Sri Mariamman Temple, Kling Street, Singapore.

Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Built in 1827, Mariamman Kovil or Kling Street Temple as it was popularly known then was constructed for worship by immigrants from the Nagapatnam and Cuddalore districts of South India. The temple is dedicated to Goddess Mariamman, known for her power in curing epidemic illnesses and diseases. Located in the heart of Chinatown, the temple’s ornamental tower entrance or gopuram, has been a landmark to generations of Hindu worshippers and Singaporeans alike.

The building of Sri Mariamman Temple was the inspiration of Mr Naraina Pillai, a clerk with the British East India Company in Penang. Mr Pillai is known to have accompanied Sir Stamford Raffles (Founder of Singapore) on his second visit to the island in 1819. Mr Pillai who set up the first brick kiln in Singapore, rapidly established himself in business and was identified as a leader of the Indian community.

The East India Company's original allotment of land for a Hindu Temple was along Telok Ayer Street. However, as it had no convenient source of fresh water needed for rituals, Colonel William Farquhar (appointed the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore, from 1819-1823), allowed Mr Pillai to occupy an alternative plot near what is today's Stamford Canal in 1821. Due to changes in colonial town planning, the Stamford Canal site was not made available. The South Bridge site where the temple currently stands (in the Chinatown area) was finally granted to Mr Pillai in 1823.

By 1827 a temple structure made of wood and attap was built at South Bridge Road. "Sinna Amman" a small deity of Mother Goddess was installed by Mr Naraina Pillai in 1827 when the temple was first built. It is an interesting fact that this deity still has its divinity in the main sanctum of the present day temple.In 1843, a building made of plaster and brick was put up for the first time. It was only in 1962, one hundred and nineteen years later that a new temple structure was developed complete with intricate sculptural works reminiscent of temple architecture in India. The original gopuram (grand tower entrance) was constructed in the late 1800's but did not contain much ornamental works. It was rebuilt in the 1930s and repaired and restored with elaborate proliferation of sculptures in the 1960s.
In the last hundred years the original temple structure underwent several redevelopment and redecoration phases.

Improvements include the addition of a new viewing gallery and the construction of a three storey complex complete with elaborate facade, spacious interior and technologically superior facilities. Housed in the complex is a state of the art auditorium ideal for weddings, multimedia presentations, corporate meetings, seminars, and cultural events.

The temple’s historical records do not show of any kumbabishegam (consecration) ceremony having been conducted prior to the first one which was held in June 1936. The second kumbabishegam was held 12 years later on in June 1949. Following this, kumbabishegams were held on 6th June 1971, 6th September 1984 & 19 May 1996.

Sri Mariamman temple served as a refuge for new immigrants during colonial times until they found work or a place of their own to stay. The temple served as an important focal point for community activities and acted as the Registry of Marriages for Hindus at the time when only the temple's priest was authorized to solemnize Hindu marriages. These days, in addition to upholding Hindu traditions and promoting religious events, the temple promotes social, cultural and educational activities.The main festival celebrated at Sri Mariaman temple is Theemithi (Fire walking ceremony) held annually in October/ November, which draws thousands of devotees and tourists. Other important festivals are Navarathiri (Nine night festival) and 1008 Sankabishegam (Conch shell anointment)

Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, Singapore.

The history of Sri Srinivasa Perumal temple dates back to the late 1800s when influential community leaders like Mr Arunachala Pillay, Mr Cootaperumal Pillay, Mr Ramasamy Pillay, Mr Appasamy Pillay, Mr Chockalingam Pillay and Mr Ramasamy Jamidar, all of whom had close working links with the East India Company, wanted to build a Hindu temple for Vaishnavite worship.

These men got together and purchased a piece of land measuring 2 acres 2 woods and 24 poles from the East India Company in 1851 for 26 rupees and 8 annas (at that period of time Indian currency was still used in the Settlement of Singapore). The temple they built in 1885 was referred to as the Narasinga Perumal Kovil.

Following the construction of the original temple structure, 2 adjoining parcels of land were later obtained for the temple’s needs. In 1894, devotees Mr Moona Sithumbaram Pillay and Mr Vinasithamby Murugesu purchased a 25,792 square feet piece of land which they donated to the temple. The second piece of adjoining land measuring 3,422 square feet was obtained by the Mohammedan Hindu Endowments Board, MHEB (under whose administration the temple was from 1907) from the East India Company on 15th August 1912 on a 999 year lease at an annual fee of 1 Straits Settlement dollar.

he original temple structure remained unchanged until the early 1950s by which time it was in dire need of a facelift and upgrading works. In 1952, the MHEB decided to rebuild and reinstate the Temple. Redevelopment was only carried out in the early 1960s when well known Indian community leader and philanthropist Mr P. Govindasamy Pillay financed much of the works. Mr Pillay is credited with building the first two storey marriage hall within the temple. It was officially opened by Enche Yusoff Bin Ishak, the first president of Singapore on 19th June 1965.

The present building minus the Pillaiyar sanctum, rajagopuram (grand tower entrance) and the covered walkway were completed in 1966. At this juncture, many elders advised that the main deity of the temple be changed from the imposing Sri Narasimha to the gracious Sri Srinivasa Perumal. The temple was thus renamed Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple.

Although financial constraints had prevented the addition of a rajagopuram to the façade of the temple in the early days, in 1979, a rajagopuram was erected. All costs for the entire construction and renovation works in the 1970s redevelopment phase were generously borne by Mr P Govindasamy Pillay.

In 1978, Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple was declared a National Monument by the Preservation of Monuments Board.

The temple underwent major facelifts in 1987, 1992 and 2005. During the different phases of redevelopment, improvements were made to the façade and facilities to meet imperative devotee needs. Visitors to the temple today can witness the painstaking efforts undertaken by the temple’s successive management committees to ensure that its conservation status was maintained. From well laid out sanctums, rich sculptural embellishments to an ornate mandapam (pillared pavillion) built for the worship of processional deities, these and many more new features make the temple an embodiment of Hinduism. Visitors and devotees to this temple are able to experience Hindu spiritual worship as well as witness Hindu customs and practices at its best here. Social and educational needs of devotees are also addressed through the temple.

Some of the major festivals celebrated here are Thaipusam, Navarathiri, Vaikunda Ekathesi and Purattasi Sani.

In this millennium, Sri Srinivsa Perumal Temple remains a divine gateway for all its devotees seeking the Lord Perumal’s blessing.

Sri Prasanna Venkateswara Swami Temple, Memphis, Tennessee, US

Anyone could witness the religious enthusiasm, the vigour and fervour with which the consecratory ceremonies took place from 14th of June to 20th of June 2005 at Memphis, Tennessee in USA. In the village of Eads sixteen years ago, a few acres of land were bought by Dr. Duggirala Prasad and his wife Dr. Vijaya and other committee members including Dr. Raghavalu, Dr. Ramanathan and other interested people. It was tough going for all of them to visualize a temple of this stature what we see today. There were obstructions, difficulties, and hurdles of all sorts to over come to realize a Hindu zeal. Because of difficult economic situation, the members were pushed to go on a determined fundraising drive. Dr. Vijaya’s commitment was great. The efforts were not futile and what we can see today is something unbelieveable.

It was a question of “Hindu Identity” for Dr. Duggirala and others and giving spiritual depth to the followers of the community. The “India Cultural Center and Hindu Temple was registered many years ago. At the leadership of Dr. Duggirala, works began from 1996 onwards. Land was cleared and facilities were erected.

Reflecting upon the need for all communities to come, the central diety for the temple would be “Lord Prasanna Venkateswara” with other “Parivara Devathas” being established. On the right of Venkateswara, Goddess Lakshmi, Goddess Andala on the left, Rama Parivaram in the nearby left shrine, Radhakrishna on the right, Lord Muruga Subramanya, Lord Shiva, Nataraja, Godess Parvati, Garuda, Anjaneya in the front entrance were established. Lord Ganesh is prominently to the far right of Lord Venkateswara.

The perspective must be turned now to consecratory ceremonies to be done on this occasion. Learned priests and scholars came from various Hindu temples across the United States. The Hindu temple of New York sent their Chief Priest, The Temples at Malibu, Los Angeles (California), Chicago (Illinois) and the Datta temple at Baton Rouge (Louisiana) sent their Priests to the occasion. There was ample religious freedom and will to perform all the homas, adhivasas, for all the deities, and elaborate religious arrangements in the adjacent hall which is also newly constructed. It was a clear demonstration of will of all devotees, volunteers, workers, staff and more than all, the GRACE of HIS HOLINESS SRI SRI GANAPATI SACHCHIDANANDA SWAMIJI OF AVADHOOTA DATTA PEETHAM, MYSORE, INDIA. Sri Swamiji had come to Memphis in 2001 to see the place and gave many directions for the construction of the temple. The committee heeded to the instructions of Sri Swamiji. Swamiji stood firmly behind Dr. Duggirala and Vijaya. The committee mobilized enough funding and the project took off.

Attention was paid to the meticulousness in “Temple Architecture” and subtleties of caricature and carving the temple properly. The well known Indian Temple Architect and “Stapati” MUTTAIAH STAPATI” directed the temple works and proper Prakaras were done. By pointing out the sensitivities that are attached to temple works, all actions were seriously taken up according to suggestions of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji. All this has now produced a wonderful, appealing temple structure consecrated by Sri GANAPATI SACHCHIDANANDA SWAMIJI HIMSELF. Sri Swamiji arrived in Memphis from Canada on the 14th and got into the detailed survey and held several meetings on the premises. Defending the need for a temple of this dimension, Sri Swamiji said _ “ It is Historical and most needed at this time of History”. We have to keep spiritualizing our existence on this planet. We have see and experience the Truth that sustains our faith. “There is unprecedented leap in faith in God and seekers are more and more in this part of the world. This temple complex will fulfill this task”- he said. “Devotion, faith and sustained spiritual activities will make this temple further beautiful and alive”- he said. The humid highland of Eads has become sacred and important today. The committee of the temple has worked very hard and dedicated themselves to this project. This “Kumbhabhishekam of Lord Prasanna Venkateswara” is a “crowning ceremony” and it is a wonderful sight. The ultimate handiwork of Lord Almighty who rules this universe, we are small atoms. It is our duty to create natural spiritual environment and do selfless service to Him. We hereby fulfill the creative urge of Memphis devotees.” Dr. Duggirala praised the high vision of Sri Ganapati Sachchidananda Swamiji and his divine life and mission in life. “From the plateau of Mysore in South India to the West Coast and from North to South he is moving and traveling to bring Dharmic values to people and we need to follow his footprints. Younger generations have to take heed of his advice and work towards Dharmic values.”

ICCT AND HINDU TEMPLE stands for UNITY in spiritual perspectives. “ Unity” is the slogan of this consecration amongst Hindus and various communities. Sri Swamiji said the “Hindu temple of Memphis has a critical role to play in the lives of people around this place and USA in general.” “Comforting suggestions and divine guidance will come from the heart of this Prasanna Venkata temple”said Sri Swamiji. ‘Your faith and firm conviction’ will grow and this will be passed on to the younger generation. Economic growth and spiritual growth should go on parallelly. You should not suffer from intellectual poverty” said Sri Swamiji.

Quad City Hindu Temple , Rock Island, IL, US.

The Quad City Hindu Temple (QCHT) in Rock Island, IL. The QC Hindu Temple began as an idea in the basement of the house of Dr. Lokanatham Gumidyala, where several Hindu community leaders met on December 2, 2001. A few days later on January 12th, 2002, the first official meeting of the yet-to-be-born Quad City Hindu Temple, several leaders again expressed the need to have a Hindu temple in the Quad Cities.
From those historic meetings, the QCHT evolved into an eight thousand square-foot modern facility with space for prayers and community events. The transformation is marked with several milestones, successes, disappointments, and above all, sheer perseverance. The QC Hindu Temple is a testimony to the strength of willpower of all Hindus and people of other faiths, who contributed generously in countless ways. The 7294 square-foot temple houses multiple deities including Balaji, Radha Krishna, Sita Rama, Narasimha, Siva, Parvathi, Vinayaka and Murugan.

9801 14th St W
Rock Island, IL 61201
(Near Ridgewood Elementary School)

Phone: 309-787-HIND (4463)

Sri Murugan Temple, London, UK

The Temple will have three main inner temples for Sri Ganapathi, Sri Murugan and and Lord Shiva. There will be a Rajagopuram (Tower) with height of 50 feet. The inner temple and part of the Rajagopuram will be constructed in Granite. Work has been carried out in India and shipped to England; the final shipment is expected in January 2003. The Finest craftsmen from India will complete carving and engravings on Granite, stone and brickwork. The infrastructure for the temple will be developed to the high standards , conforming with local building regulations and health and safety standards.

78 Church Road, Manor Park, London E12 6AF
Ph: 020 8478 8433
Fax: 020 8478 0407