Thousands Gather for Consecration Ceremony of Newly Renovated Sri Siva Durga Temple

Hindu priests performing rituals during the consecration ceremony at the Sri Siva Durga temple on Dec 4, 2016. PHOTO: MARCUS TAN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

SINGAPORE – Nearly 20,000 Hindus queued up under the morning sun to enter the renovated Sri Siva Durga temple after a special consecration ceremony on Sunday (Dec 4).

The temple in Potong Pasir had undergone a two-year, $2.7 million reconstruction.

All Hindu temples undergo renovations and repairs every 12 years, and the temple and its deities have to be re-consecrated through a ritual known as maha kumbabhishekam.

A procession began at 8am, when priests walked in with pots of holy water from nine sacred Indian rivers to the beating of drums and the blowing of trumpets.

Devotees watched, with some lifting their hands in prayer, as priests sprinkled the water on the temple’s roof-top kalasams, which are vessel-like pinnacles that point to the sky.

The temple’s vice-president G. Krishnamurthi, 45, said he was “extremely delighted” by the turnout. It helped that the rebuilt temple could accommodate more people, he said. It can host 500 worshippers, up from 300 previously.

Other races and religions in the community helped out for the event. Volunteers from the Mahakaruna Buddhist Society, which has an office in Kim Keat, distributed breakfast and drinks to the crowd.

The Church of Ascension, located in St Andrew’s Village next to the temple, brought forward its Sunday service to Saturday evening so that its car park can be used for ambulance and police services for the event.

A nearby coffee shop unscrewed and removed its tables to make space for the devotees, and also voluntarily stopped the sale of alcohol in the morning as a mark of respect.

This led Minister for Home Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam to describe the event as “a typical showcasing of what racial and religious harmony in Singapore means”. He attended the ceremony with Potong Pasir MP Sitoh Yih Pin.

“This is racial and religious harmony in practice. It’s very hard won over 50 years,” Mr Shanmugam told reporters. “I think it’s something to be cherished.”