Holy Pilgrimage - Hindu temples in Malaysia
Nattukkottai Chettiar Temple, Penang, Malaysia
The Nattukottai Chettiar Temple, known also as the Arulmigu Sri Thandayuthapani Temple, is perhaps the most famous of Hindu temples located in Penang, Malaysia. Dedicated to Lord Subramanian, also known as Lord Murugan, it is commonly known as the Thanneermalai Temple. Located on Waterfall Road (Jalan Kebun Bunga), this Shaivite temple is the centre of the annual Thaipusam festival in Penang.
BackgroundSri Thendayuthapani Temple not only epitomizes the glory of Lord Murugan, but also that of the Chettiars, once a community of traders, merchant-bankers and moneylenders. They hail from the Sivagangai and Pudukottai districts of Tamil Nadu, India. They settled down in 96 villages in these two districts.
They are often referred to as Nattukottai Chettiars to distinguish them from other groups of Chettiars. The term "Nattukottai Chettiars" means "people with palatial houses in the countryside". They are also referred to as "Nagarathars" meaning city dwellers, as they lived in a city called Poompuhar on the east coast of Tamil Nadu, a part of which went under the sea.
It was a practice for the Nattukottai chettiars to build Lord Murugan temples wherever they settled. This was the case in Burma, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaya, Sri Lanka and Singapore. They had the advice of Sivachariars not to build any Sivan Temples as certain rituals had to be observed. As the Brahmin Sivachariars were prohibited from crossing the seas, they advised them to establish Lord Murugan Temples where non-Brahmin priests, the Pandarams, could be employed.
This does not mean that the Brahmin priests had not visited South East Asia before. Records show that there had been the priests at the Royal Courts of Thailand and Cambodia. The Hindu Traditional practice of reciting Thiruvempavai during the coronation of Thai kings bear testimony to this. No one is certain when and why the Sivachariars - the Tamil speaking Brahmin priests stopped coming to South East Asia.
By the third quarter of the 19th century things changed and the Brahmin priests in India, particularly Tamil Nadu became adventurous as the rest of the Indians and decided to seek their fortunes in Malaya and Singapore. The chettiyars renovated so many temples in Tamil Nadu amongst them the Melakadambur the sculptural temple made ny the King Kulothunga I, they renovated with massive hard stone works sucha as arthamandapa and mahamandaps and huge compound walls
FestivalsAn estimated 500,000 people attend the Thaipusam festival at the temple, making it the largest festival and human gathering in Penang. It is also a leading tourist attraction.
Thaipusam is an annual religious event celebrated by Hindus to commemorate the victory of Lord Murugan over the demon, Tarakasuran. Devotees and penitents can seen bearing kavadis, and piercing their bodies with hooks and spears without seeming to cause any pain or harm as an act of faith and atonement.
The chariot procession begins on Thaipusam eve where the chariot together with Chettiar kavadis -- male chettiar carry a peacock feather yoke accompanying the silver chariot -- (different from body-piercing type of kavadis) departs Kovil Veedu(House Temple) on Penang Street, Georgetown in the morning ends here at night. They retreat to the chettinar for three days before accompanying the chariot back to town.
Sree Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple, Butterworth, Malaysia
The Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple is noted for its impressive gopuram which towers over the buildings in the vicinity.
HistoryThe Butterworth Sree Maha Mariamman temple was founded back in 1853. Ambal's idol was found by the seaside on 1853 and a small hut was build consecutively to place Ambal's idol for worship. In 1903, Ponnusami Pillai constructed a temple on the same spot and the 1st consecration ceremony (Kumbabishegam) took place. The current temple structure was build in 1980's with the consecration ceremony taking place on 1988. On 2002, after some minor renovation works, another consecration ceremony took place.
Getting thereThe Maha Mariamman Devasthanam Temple is located along Jalan Jeti Lama, an old road off Jalan Bagan Luar. You can see the Butterworth Outer Ring Road behind it. The temple itself is located on a small road called Jalan Tokong Lama.
Sri Aghora Veerapathra Temple, Malaysia
Temple SiteOriginally the temple was built in Batu Gantung as a small shrine for Indians who reside in the nearby area. In the year 2005, the temple underwent major re-locations and renovations as the nearby area were being developed into a housing area. However, the developers were kind enough to donate a piece of land for the construction of the new temple. The temple is open to public from 6pm to 9pm daily. Prayers are usually conducted by the temple priest in these time-frame during which devotees may observe the prayer and receive blessings.
DeityVirabhadra is commonly worshipped by south Indians and Shaivites. Virabhadra was created by the wrath of Shiva to destroy Daksha.
Sri Kandaswamy Kovil, Brickfields, Malaysia
It is one of the most prominent Sri Lankan Tamil or Ceylonese Tamil temples in Malaysia. It is huge and showcases rich Sri Lankan Tamil architecture and has become a popular tourist attraction in Kuala Lumpur. The temple architecture is said to be inspired by the Nallur Kandaswamy temple in Jaffna, Sri Lanka. It is reputed to be one of the most orthodox temples in Malaysia where rituals are followed strictly in accordance the rules of Saiva Agama Scriptures. Videography and photography of the shrines are prohibited inside.
The Kalamandapam hall which holds wedding ceremonies and is owned by this temple was officiated by the second prime minister of Malaysia, Tun Abdul Razak.
The Sri Kandaswamy Kovil is managed by the Malaysian Ceylon Saivites Association (MCSA). The temple provide religious services such as housewarming ceremonies and child 31st day ceremony.
HistoryIn British Malaya, the Ceylon Tamil population, who was then mostly employed in the railway industry, was mainly concentrated in Brickfields and Sentul because of the proximity of the Administrative Centre of the Malayan Railway (opposite the railway station) and the Sentul Workshop in Kuala Lumpur. The government provided accommodation for the white and the blue collar workers in these areas. The Ceylon Tamils living in both these areas were devout Saivites and, as they fervently believed that "no one should live in a place that has no Temple" they soon began to organize themselve into associations.
Temples and associations began to sprout in areas where there was a sizeable community. The railway staff residing in the Brickfields area, many of whom were students of Saiva Siddhanta Asiriar Sivapadasundaranar, an acknowledged follower of Sri Arumuga Navalar, felt an urgent need for a place of worship in accordance with the Saiva Agamas. They were anxious to have a temple to practise and observe the Saiva Siddhantha tenets and religious observances such as Viratham (fasting), Thithis (commemoration rituals), Punniyaahavaasam (purification ceremony), Kantha Sasthy and other observances and festivals.
With this in view, on 24 December 1890 a group of Ceylon Saivites met at the residence of V. Sinnapah, acting traffic inspector, Malayan Railway and an influential member of the Ceylon Tamil community. At that meeting it was decided
- to build a temple to worship Lord Subramaniam; and
- to purchase an appropriate land to build the temple.
The land between the closed end of the cul-de-sac of the present Jalan Scott and the Klang River was considered most appropriate for the proposed temple because of its central position and because the land was quite empty. It was purchased by the Selangor Ceylon Tamil Association in 1901 and the construction of the Kandaswamy temple commenced about the year 1902. The land title was originally registered in the name of V. Sinnappah. The first group of trustees was selected on 18 April 1903 to hold in trust the property purchased for the temple. On 18 July 1903 Sinnappah transferred the two lots of land registered in his name to the trustees.
A "Vel" was installed in the land by His Holiness Sri Murugaswamy, an eminent Saivite, and a small temple with Gopuram was completed in 1909. The first Maha Kumba Abishegam of the Sri Kandaswamy Temple was held on 9 February 1909 (Tamil year Keelaga 28th day of the Tamil month Thai).
Priests (Archahar)In Saivite temples, only Saivite Brahmins of the hereditary Adisaiva priest lineage were entitled to conduct rites in Agamic Siva temples. Sri Kandaswamy Kovil follows this rule. The first priest of Sri Kandaswamy Kovil was Siva Sri R. Somaskanda Kurukkal. He was well known for his steadfast devotion to Lord Shanmugar that, even during the air raids by the Japanese during the early part World War II and later by the B-29 bombers of the Allied forces, the priest would continue with the daily poojas as if everything was normal. Somaskanda Kurukkal was succeeded by his son, Siva Sri Raju Kurukkal who was born in the temple residence and had served the temple from a very young age. In 1978 there was a need for an additional chief priest to meet the religious needs of the ever growing communitity in the temple abishegams, pujas and festivala and also in conducting weddings, final funeral rights, housewarming ceremonies and Special Latchumy Pujas. For the first time a fully qualified priest from Jaffna, Siva Sri Kamatchi Sundareswara Kurukkal, was invited to supplement the local chief priest. Siva Sri Parameswara Kurukkal is currently the chief priest of Sri Kandaswamy Kovil. He is assisted by a team of fully qualified priests.
FestivalsSri Kandaswamy Kovil is hailed as one of the first temples in Malaysia to have celebrated the Soora Samhara festival which occurs as a conclusion to the Kantha Shasti fast (re-enactment of Lord Muruga's win over the demon) and one of two temples in Malaysia to celebrate the Kathirgama Kodiyetram festival. Till date, these festivals are being celebrated in a grand scale. The scene of the mock battle between the main deity Arumugawsamy mounted on his Attukedai Vahanam (vehicle in the form of goat) and the Asuran, the Demon King appearing in various forms, is a sight to experience. It is witnessed by thousands of devotees, and this festival at sunset has been held for the last 80 to 90 years.
Of recent years, thousands of devotees throng the temple at the wee hours of the Thaipusam morning to offer prayers to Lord Muruga. They carry silver pots containing milk as offering to Lord Muruga as well as flowers and other gifts deemed appropriate.
Annually this temple celebrates over 54 festivals where special abishegams, pujas, and festivals are held. This may be the only temple in Malaysia where the main deity mounts one of His many Vahanams (Divine mounts) for each and every festival. The Vahanams in His Stable are in the form of peacock, double horse, single horse, Idapam (Divine Bull), elephant, goat, illuminated carved manjam, chariot, Singgaasam (Golden lion-faced throne: the seat of an all-powerful Emperor), and Sapparam the Seat of Unification of the Divine and us mortals in Divine marriage. The religion gives so much importance to all living creature. Saivites acknowledge that it is the Divine animals that will bring God to us, thus these vahanams. In the Thevarams by the Saivite Saints, God always appears with his Consort both mounted on His Divine Bull.
Malaysian Ceylonese Saivites Association youth sectionThe youth section of the Malaysian Ceylonese Saivites Association has been actively serving the Sri Kandaswamy Kovil (Jalan Scott) for many decades. Since the humble beginning, the youth wing has been devoting themselves to the temple by helping with temple chores during festivals. However, in the past decade, the MCSA Youth has been doing more than just serving Lord Muruga in his palace. Alongside the temple work, the MCSA Youth’s Bhajan group serenades Lord Muruga on special occasions such as Sivarathri and Navarathri. Among other temple activities, cleaning is done semiyearly by the youth, where every nook and cranny of Lord Muruga’s palace is scrubbed and shined with love.
Not just stopping at serving Lord Muruga, the MCSA Youth believe in serving His children as well. In that spirit, they lend their hands to the Vivegananda Margam by delivering household provisions to the less fortunate on a monthly basis. Also, the MCSA Youth annually visits the children’s orphanage during the Deepavali season, bringing food and clothes along with fun activities for the children to partake.
The youth of this generation has taken a liking to the world beyond the four walls, and so has the MCSA Youth. An annual Nature Camp is organized by the MCSA Youth, catering to the teenagers, transforming them from single players to team players while allowing them to experience the lush greenery outside the hustle and bustle of city life. As for the MCSA Youth members, outdoor activities such as paintball, mountain hiking, and jungle trekking are held occasionally.
To stay fit, the MCSA Youth get their blood pumped with weekly dosages of futsal and badminton friendlies, on Saturdays and Sundays respectively. To relax an unwind, the youth hold quarterly potluck parties hosted by alternate members, and indulge in annual year end trips at selected local destinations such as Cameron Highlands, Fraser’s Hill and so on.
Sri Marathandavar Bala Dhandayuthapani Alayam, Malaysia
Sri Marathandavar Bala Dhandayuthapani Alayam is an ancient temple in Malaysia. Panguni Uthiram which occurs during the month of March/April is celebrated in this temple. Numerous devotees come to perform there as well as carry Kavadi
Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple, Malaysia
The mosque is situated on Jalan Tukang Emas, also known as "Harmony Street" because of its proximity to the Kampung Kling Mosque and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple.
The temple was built by Thavinayagar Chitty, the leader of the Chitty people, in 1781 after the Dutch colonial government of Malacca gave him a plot of land. The temple is dedicated to Vinayagar or Ganesha, the elephant deity. In the back room is a sculpture of the deity with the head of an elephant and the body of a man with four hands. There is another altar dedicated to Lord Muruga, the younger brother of Lord Vinayagar
BackgroundThe Chittys are a distinctive group of Tamil people found mainly in Malacca and Singapore, who are also known as the Indian Peranakans. As of today, their population stands at 2,000. Like the Peranakans, the Chitty speak a Malay patois, which is mixed with many Tamil loan words. Many of the Chitty are unable to communicate in Tamil fluently.
Historical records stated that the Tamil traders from Panai in Tamil Nadu settled down in Malacca during the sovereignty of the Sultanate of Malacca. Like the Peranakans, they later settled down and freely intermingled with the local Malays and Chinese settlers. However, with the fall of the Malacca Sultanate after 1511, the Chitty eventually lost touch with their native land. Under the administration of the Portuguese, Dutch and British colonizers, the Chitty eventually began simplifying their culture and customs by adopting local customs.
Chinese cultural influence among the Chitty people is evident, especially in the case of ancestral worship. Religious objects used for conducting rituals aren similar to those used by the Chinese. Hints of Taoist and Islamic influences are also evident in their religious rituals.
ArchitectureThe simplification of culture and customs can be seen at the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple. Distinct from the South Indian temples, which have a complex Dravidian Architecture in the Pallava style, that displays beautifully carved out sculptures of the Hindu gods in many rows, the Chitty temple tend to only have one row of these, or a picture of one single god in each of the three rows, as evidenced in the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple.
FestivalsThe Malacca Chittys observe various rituals, festivals and ceremonies, such as Thai Pongal, Madhu Pongal for those who rear cows, Kani Pongal especially for maidens, Deepavali, putting 'Kolams' and flowers during the month of Margali on the doorsteps, Kelemays Sarasvathi (Ahyutha poojas), Sivarathri, Egadesi, Amman Thiruviza, carrying of the Kavadis during the months of Thaipusam, Masimagam, Sithrai, Panguni Utharam, Adi matham prayers and the taking out of the Rathams (Religious Chariots) in procession for some festivals.
There are three Rathams made of wood with lovely carvings of Indian Deities, and dating back some 200 years The Rathams are maintained in good condition and kept in the temple grounds. One Ratham is for Lord Ganesha, one for Lord Subramaniar Swamy, and one for Lord Rama Swamy. They are used during festive seasons drawn by bullocks and are lighted with decorative lamps making them look beautiful at night.
The 'Sri Muthu Mariamman Thiruvizha' festival during the Sitrai matham (April/May) is major celebration among the Chitty diaspora who are currently spread all over Malaysia and Singapore. Many make it a point to make the trip back to Malacca for the festival.
Sri Sithi Vinayagar Temple, Malaysia
The temple was completed in 1964 following Dravidian architecture and remains one of the main Hindu temples serving the religious needs of the Hindu population of Petaling Jaya. It is run by the Petaling Jaya Hindu Association.
HistoryThe history of the Sri Sithi Vinayagar Temple dates back to the early 1950s when Petaling Jaya was established as a residential suburb to ease over-population of fast growing Kuala Lumpur. The new township attracted many residents and soon the Hindu population of Petaling Jaya increased dramatically. At this stage, the pioneer Hindu residents felt the great need for their own place of worship.
Establishment of PJHAThrough the efforts of a pro-tem committee, the Petaling Jaya Hindu Association [PJHA] was officially registered in 1959 with the main aim of establishing and managing a place of worship for Hindus in Petaling Jaya. It was unanimously decided that Lord Ganesha in the form of Sri Sithi Vinayagar be enshrined in the proposed temple.
Vinayaka (Sanskrit: विनायक; IAST: vināyaka) is a common name for Ganesha that appears in the Purāṇas and in Buddhist Tantras. Ganesha is widely revered as the Remover of Obstacles and more generally as Lord of Beginnings and Lord of Obstacles (Vighnesha (Sanskrit: विघ्नेश; IAST: Vighneśa), Vighneshvara (Sanskrit: विघ्नेश्वर; IAST: Vighneśvara)), patron of arts and sciences, and the deva of intellect and wisdom. He is honoured at the beginning of rituals and ceremonies and invoked as Patron of Letters during writing sessions.A prominent name for Ganesha in the Tamil language is Pille or Pillaiyar (Little Child). A. K. Narain differentiates these terms by saying that pille means a "child" while pillaiyar means a "noble child". He adds that the words pallu, pella, and pell in the Dravidian family of languages signify "tooth or tusk of an elephant", but more generally "elephant". Anita Raina Thapan notes that the root word pille in the name Pillaiyar might have originally meant "the young of the elephant", because the Pali word pillaka means "a young elephant".
Religious and cultural activitiesIn the 1980s due importance was given to the propagation of religion and development of culture, in line with one of the main aims of the PJHA. Religious education, Thirumurai and Tamil language classes were conducted for children. Cultural presentations and religious discourses were held in conjunction with Guru-poojas and major festivals such as Maha Sivaratri and Navarathri.
FestivalsGanesha Chathurthi is observed grandly by the temple as it is a major festival for the resident deity, Ganesha. Prayers are held for a week and food served to the public.
The temple is particularly packed on Deepavali with devotees eager to offer their prayers on the holy day. Other festivals observed include Maha Sivaratri and Navarathri
Sri Sunderaraja Perumal Temple, Malaysia
The temple is located in the royal town of Klang, and is just a stone's throw away from the popular Little India in Klang.
This temple is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu in the form of Perumal (also known as Thirumaal), a very popularly worshipped form by South Indians
ArchitectureThe Gopuram of this temple is one of the great landmarks of Klang, which stands proudly along Persiaran Raja Muda Musa. It shows many sculptures and carvings of different deities, representing many epics in simple image form.
Inside the temple, there are several complexes dedicated to different deities. At the center of the temple is the Perumal Sannathi, where Lord Perumal and His consort Goddess Mahalakshmi are situated. The center complex of Lord Perumal Sannathi contains a small gopuram with the statue of all Lord Vishnu’s avatars surrounding it.
On the right of the Perumal Sannathi is the Shivan Sannathi, which consists Lord Shiva, Lord Parvathi, Lord Vinayagar, Lord Muruga and Lord Ayyappan. On the left side of Perumal Sannathi is Saneshwara Sannathi, where Lord Shani and the Navagrahas is situated.
Adjacent to the center complex is Lord Anjaneya Sannathi and just at the corner outside the temple is Lord Nagaraja Sannathi.
The temple also has a multi-purpose hall called The Mahalakshami Kalyana Mandapam (Mahalakshmi Wedding Hall), a favorite place of the Indian community in Klang to have their weddings.
The entire space of this temple is befitted with air-cool system for the convenience of devotees.
Sri Sunderaraja Perumal Temple is now in the process of undergoing major renovations to restructure the temple area. It is planned to commence around November 2010 and end by 2014, with all the painstaking effort by the present temple president, Mr. S. Ananda krishna.
FestivalsVarious religious and spiritual activities are held in Klang Perumal temple all year long. But the most prominent of it is the Purataasi month celebration, the month dedicated to Lord Perumal. It is the month that falls between mid-September to mid-October, where many devotees of Perumal take strict vows to achieve spiritual conscience.
Month long prayers and rituals are held everyday and Saturdays of this holy month is celebrated grandly in festival mood. Lots of devotees from all over Malaysia and even the neighboring countries throng to this temple from morning to night to pay their homage and have the grace of Lord Sri Sunderaraja Perumal.
The temple is also particularly packed on Deepavali with devotees eager to offer their prayers on the holy day.
ContributionsApart from religious duty, the temple is also very active in serving its responsibility towards the society. Every Saturdays, the free lunch program is held where lunch is cooked and sent to many less-privileged homes around the Klang district. Furthermore, it also arranges hospital visits from time to time to help the sick.
Awards and recognitionRecently, on November 2006, the temple was awarded with ISO 9001:2000 certification for its quality sustained contribution in religious, cultural and social service to Hindus. This is probably the first Hindu shrine in the world to receive an international quality service acknowledgement.
Om Tat Sat
(My humble salutations to the great devotees , wikisources and Pilgrimage tourist guide for the collection )