Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sri Mahamariamman Hindu Temple in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Although I do not have any religious beliefs and associations of any kind, I always try my best to respect other people’s faiths, practices and places of worship. I know what it is to strongly believe in a god, a belief or something because I have been there. Above all these, I happen to possess a great interest in culture and history which typically revolves around the country’s geography and topography, the inhabitant’s way of life, food, the climate and lastly, their religion.

Because I have a very inquisitive mind and because I do not belong to any organised religious group nor do I worship anything, I am able to witness and study the faiths from a distance. We’d all be surprised to realise that there may be differences in origin, philosophy, practices and worship style in every religion but the common foundation taught are the same across the board: peace and love.

In Malaysia there are several religions: Islam, Hinduism, Toaism, Buddishm, Christianity, of which Islam of course is the majority in the country. Nearby Kuala Lumpur Chinatown I discovered this beautiful Hindu temple.

The entrance gate of the temple. 

Sri Mahamariamman Temple
Facebook: Sri Mahamariamman  |  Location: Jalan Bandar beside Chinatown, Kuala Lumpur

The temple was built in 1873 in Dravidian architectural style (a style popular in the southern Indian subcontinent) with additional structures built in the later years. This is the oldest functioning Hindu temple in Malaysia, as well as the richest in the country they say. The temple comes to life during Thaipusam and Deepavali which are the two main Hindu festivals in Malaysia.

Hinduism has four major denominations: Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism. The Sri Mahamariamman Temple however belongs to the Shakti sect. The Batu Caves located in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur is another Hindu temple worth a visit.

Because this is a place of worship, the temple does not a charge a fee to non-worshippers who wish to enter the premises. However, as a spectator one must follow and adhere to the custom of the temple, such as by not wearing what is perceived as indecent clothing and such. In most Hindi temples, they require as well that visitors take off their shoes. Wearing socks are fine though.

There is a little counter outside the temple on the left side where you can leave your shoes for a few Malaysian ringgits. This means your feet will eventually get dirty. There is water inside where you can wash your feet but luckily I brought with me some wet tissues.

Seriously, these bracelets make me look like a Hindu goddess haha. The first two on the left I bought at the KL Central Market and the Burmese Jade at Stanley Market in Hong Kong and the bronze-like bracelet I bought at Temple Street Night Market in Kowloon, Hong Kong.

The different faces of Malaysia. Muslim women walking beside a Hindu shop selling flower necklaces called 'mala' in Chinatown. 

Have  a look at the colourful painting details on the columns of the main prayer hall.

A very cool chariot!

What I noticed with these men is they have a very regal bearing, chest out and chin high. They are proud of what they are doing, which seems to be praying and walking from temple hall to another temple hall, although the other one went for a quick feet wash.

This is the main prayer hall decorated in beautiful and colourful frescoes on the ceiling and paintings on the columns.

Some ash (vibhuti), paste (sandalwood or turmeric) and powder (sindoor or tilaka) used for Hindu ritual worship.

The temple's main shrine (garbagraham) to Sri Maha Mariammman.

Ganesha the elephant is a deity in Hindu, better known as the remover of obstacles, the patron of the arts and sciences, as well as the deva of intellect and wisdom.

A mural sculpture of an impressive line up of Hindu dieties.

I do not know much about Hinduism except for the basics and would love to learn and look into this more deeper. It seems to be a fascinating world.

The tower at the entrance gate, so elaborately designed with figures, so mythical yet spiritual.

Travel Period: August 2013
Destination: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

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