SINGAPORE: A 155-year-old Hindu temple in Singapore was on Monday declared the 67th national monument of the country, becoming the third Hindu temple on the list.
The Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, built in 1859 by the Nattukottai Chettiars, was gazetted by the National Heritage Board (NHB) as a national monument.
The board said the temple is socially, culturally, historically and architecturally significant.
Known to be pioneers of modern banking, the Chettiars who centred their economic and religious activities around the temple first arrived in Singapore in the early 1800s, and were traders, merchant bankers and financiers.
It is the third Hindu temple to be part of the list.
The Sri Thendayuthapani Temple was established in 1859, rebuilt in the early 1980s, completed in 1983, and consecrated later that year.
The temple was re-consecrated on November 27, 2009 after its latest renovations, following the Hindu tradition of renewing temple buildings every 12 years.
The Hindu deity, the temple is dedicated to, is commonly known by three names: Murugan, Subramanian and Sri Thendayuthapani.
The main sanctum of the temple houses the statue of Murugan, while the statues of Shiva — also known as Sundareswarar — and his consort, Sakthi — also known as Meenakshi — are housed in separate sanctums.
The temple is widely known as the Chettiar temple. The Chettiars are known to worship Murugan, and have dedicated many temples to this Hindu deity all over the world.
The Sri Thendayuthapani Temple is the older of the two temples built by the Chettiar community in Singapore – the other is the Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple built in 1925.
Besides using the Sri Thendayuthapani Temple primarily as a place of worship, the community also interacted and built their business network there.
The temple also functioned as a financial institution for the Chettiars, who were well-known for issuing loans at low interest rates, and generous in allowing their clients time to settle their debts.
The Chettiars are believed to have introduced Thaipusam, a Hindu festival, to Southeast Asia in the 19th century.
In Singapore, a procession typically takes place between the two Chettiar temples on the eve of Thaipusam.
On the actual day, a larger and grander procession starts at the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road in Little India, passes through several other Hindu temples, and ends at the Sri Thendayuthapani temple.