I must have mentioned before how small yet diverse Singapore is. For example, one of the popular tourist spots in Chinatown is the Sri Mariamman Temple, Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. From Chinatown MRT station, you have to pass thru alleys full of souvenirs shops and food stalls, typical of a Chinatown, before reaching the temple. It’s like a mini journey from one culture to the next.
The temple was founded in 1827 by a prominent businessman, Naraina Pillai, after the establishment of a trading settlement in Singapore by the British East India Company. It is now considered a National Monument since 1973. Years of renovation and reconstruction transformed it from a simple temple made of wood and nipa palm leaves to a structure covered with intricate sculptures.
The interior of the temple is as intricate as its façade. It is decorated with colorful paintings and larger than life sculptures of Hindu deities.
I Googled how many gods Hinduism has and to my surprise the answer is one. There is only one god, Brahman, represented in various forms. So technically, Hinduism is a monotheistic religion. And if I connect this analogy with regard to the existence of different kinds of religion, perhaps it makes sense that we are all worshiping one god but in varied ways. I always try to avoid discussing religion in public spheres but I believe this thinking will help us forge unity despite differences, don’t you agree?
*These photos were taken when I went back to Singapore during the summer break (Dec 2012-Jan 2013).