Sri Thendayuthapani Temple
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|Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, Singapore|
Gopuram of Sri Thendayuthapani Temple
|Location||15 Tank Road, Singapore 238065|
|Creator||Nattukkottai Chettiar Community|
|Designated||21 October 2014|
The Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, better known as the Chettiars' Temple or the Tank Road temple, is one of the Singapore Hindu community's most important monuments. It was gazetted as a national monument on 21 October 2014. It was built in 1859 by Nattukkottai Chettiar community.
This Hindu temple, dedicated to the six-faced Lord Subramaniam, is at its most active during the festival of Thaipusam. It is here that hundreds of pilgrims, their bodies pierced by hooks, spears and spiked steel structures called kavadi, end their Kavadi Attam procession from the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple on Serangoon Road. This act of penance and propitiation is carried out by devotees in gratitude to Lord Subramanian, son of Lord Siva, for granting their prayers.
History of the Temple
The Chettiar community is deeply rooted in the Hindu tradition especially in the Saiva Siddhantha. Members of the community are very devoted to Sri Thendayuthapani also called as Lord Muruga.
But it was not until 35 years after their arrival in Singapore that they constructed a proper temple in honour of Sri Thendayuthapani. C M Turnbull, in her book A History of Singapore 1819-1975 records that the Nattukkottai Chettiars built the Subramaniam Temple (a popular name given to the temple by non Chettiars) in Tank Road in 1859.
However prior to that year, they had installed a Vel (spear), a weapon representation of Lord Muruga, under a tree where they offered their prayers. The Vel was installed below a pipal (arasa maram) tree at the bank of a tank (pond). Fresh water from the hill where the Central Park is now, emerged as a waterfall and filled the tank. The location was ideal for the establishment of a temple. The Chettiars took their bath there before offering their prayers to the Vel.The railway line nearby also provided an excellent form of transport to and from Malaya where they had also established their businesses.
The tree had to be uprooted when the government acquired the land for re-doing Tank Road. The site where the Vel was now forms part of the slip road that leads to River Valley Road and Clemenceau Avenue.
The First Consecration Ceremony
As quoted in their website, the slab stones found at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple show that the temple was consecrated on 4 November 1859. The community bought the land, where the present temple stands, from the estate of Mr Oxley, the first Surgeon General of Singapore.
The temple in its original form was of a simple structure. At the entrance to the temple, two raised platforms similar to that found in Chettiar households in Tamil Nadu were erected. It had an alangara mandapam and an artha mandapam. The alangara mandapam was used to house the decorated deities on special occasions while the artha mandapam was the centre hall leading to the main sanctum. The main sanctum was of course dedicated to Lord Muruga in the form of Sri Thendayuthapani.
The old temple underwent some renovation and restoration works on two occasions when the consecration ceremonies were held in 1936 and 1955. However, the community felt the need to upgrade the temple with modern facilities so as to keep pace with the development of Singapore. The Nagarathars decided in the late seventies, to rebuild the temple on the same site. The temple was to be in the centre with a wedding hall and staff quarters flanking its sides. The food courtyard known as the karthigai kattu was replaced by a wedding hall with car parking facilities. The piling work started on 4 January 1981 and was completed on during mid 1983 and was followed by a consecration ceremony on 24 November 1983, that was attended by thousands of devotees.
The temple was consecrated again on 29 November 1996.
The next consecration was on Friday, 27 November 2009. This was a grand event with a turn up of over 20,000 devotees, that includes a live web-cast through Internet.
Facilities at the temple
Knowing the needs of the Singapore Hindu Community, the temple has a beautifully decorated and spacious wedding hall for conducting marriages and such functions. Some highlights:
- Fully renovated and Air-Conditioned Wedding Hall ( called as Kalyana Mandapam in Tamil)
- One of the biggest Wedding Hall in Singapore
- Beautifully decorated Alangara Mandapam
- Seating Capacity of the hall is around 500
- Capacity of the dining hall is around 300
- Ample parking facilities
- Temple Priests available for reciting Hindu Religious Mantras
- Temple Religious Music is provided
- Hindu Religious Utensils used in wedding rituals are provided
- Centrally located and easily accessible from all parts of Singapore.
Sri Thendayuthapani Temple celebrates various festivals with pomp and splendour and every year six important festivals are celebrated, which are: ThaiPusam, LetchaArchanai for Meenakshi Amman & Durgai Amman, Navarathri, Skantha Shashti and Thiru Karthigai. Of which Thaipusam is a famous festival in South East Asia that attracts thousands of Hindu Devotees and hundreds of tourists to Singapore.
A festival occurring in the Tamil month Thai (January–February), the day of the star Pusam around Pournami (Full Moon) is celebrated as ThaiPusam.
It is a special day for worship of Lord Muruga (also known as Subrahmanya or Thendayuthapani) and is celebrated in a very grand manner at all Murugan temples, especially at the 'Aaru Padai Veedu' of Murugan (Six temples in India dedicated to Lord Muruga).
This festival honours Muruga or Subramanya, the son of Shiva.
Thaipusam in Sri Thendayuthapani temple (Chettiars' Temple)
Thaipusam is celebrated during January/February, that is, during the Tamil month of Thai. On the previous day, the deity, Lord Murugan, is taken on a procession in the Silver Chariot, to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar temple, and returns in the evening followed by Chettiar Kavadies and other devotees. This event is popularly called as Chetty Pusam in Singapore.
On Thaipusam day, hundreds of devotees offer prayers either by piercing their body with spikes and lemon, pulling a chariot or carrying Kavadis from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple. The devotees then offer their prayers and fulfill their vows. The Vel (holy spear) in the sanctum is showered with milk continuously for hours. Several Chinese devotees and people of other religion and races also come to fulfill their vows on this day.
Several Chinese devotees and people of other religion and races also come to fulfill their vows on this day. Sri Thendayuthapani temple is celebrating this festival in Singapore for more than hundred years. Annathanam (Free Food) is provided from 12.30 pm to 4.00 pm on THAIPUSAM day, at the Chettiar Wedding Hall located within the temple premises.
The Temple Management
The temple, has over the years built up a reputation of being managed well. At the head of the management is the trustee who is assisted by representatives of the various Kittangis. The Trusteeship is rotated annually amongst the representatives of the Kittangis. Important decisions regarding the temple are made at a gathering of the entire Chettiar community called the Nagara Koottam.