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12,000 devotees brave rain to witness Hindu temple consecration ceremony

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As dark clouds formed, devotees who had gathered outside the Sri Thendayuthapani temple on Thursday morning reached for their ponchos and umbrellas.

They had begun streaming into the temple grounds in Tank Road from as early as 5.45am and, when the rain started to pour, the devotees remained resolute in their seats, not wanting to miss any part of the consecration ceremony.

The occasion was special, because it was the first consecration ceremony for one of the Republic’s oldest Hindu temples after the Government declared it as Singapore’s 67th national monument in 2014.

Built in April 1859, Sri Thendayuthapani has a close association with Thaipusam, the festival dedicated to Lord Murugan, the Hindu god who symbolises bravery, power and virtue. The temple is the final destination for the festival’s traditional foot procession.

The first part of the ceremony began at 7am in a huge tent outside the temple, where priests recited prayers and blessed holy water.

This was followed by the kumbhabhishekam – the pouring of holy water from the top of the gopuram (the tower at the entrance of the temple), during which devotees chanted arokara, prayers from devotees to Lord Murugan.

Some 12,000 devotees turned up to witness the consecration, said Mr M. Saminathan, president of the Chettiar’s Temple Society, which manages Sri Thendayuthapani temple.

The rituals and prayers were overseen by Dr K. Pitchai Gurukkal, who is the chief priest of the Sri Karpaga Vinayagar Temple in Pillaiyarpatti, India. He was invited here to lead prayers for the ceremony.

A consecration ceremony is held every 12 years to re-energise the temple and its deities and strengthen the power of devotees’ prayers, he told The Straits Times.

The downpour was a sign of grace, and a good omen that the gods were pleased with the ceremony, he said.

The ceremony also marked the physical rejuvenation of the Hindu temple, the only one in Singapore with a library, which holds an extensive collection of books.

The temple complex has been extensively refurbished over the past year, at a cost of about $1 million.

This includes the reconstruction of the Meenakshi Amman sanctum (which houses the statue of a deity), replacement of the marble flower patterns on the temple floors with granite stones, and painting of the sanctum walls and columns.

The upgrading of ancillary facilities, such as the Chettiars’ Wedding Hall, is expected to be completed by the end of 2023.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam was guest of honour at the event, and he was accompanied by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law Edwin Tong, and Ms Joan Pereira, who is MP for the area.

Preparations for the ceremony have been ongoing for the past one year. Close to 1,000 volunteers were enlisted to help with crowd control and the serving of food to devotees.

Preparations for the ceremony have been ongoing for the past one year. ST PHOTO: SHINTARO TAY


Mr Saminathan said the event was a grand success, in part due to the support of hard-working volunteers who were instrumental in ensuring that the ceremony went smoothly.

“The volunteers believe that nothing can beat service to god. So when you call them, they come in droves,” said Mr Saminathan.