Sri Mariamman Temple

The Sri Mariamman Temple is Singapore’s oldest Hindu temple. It is an agamic temple, built in the Dravidian style. The temple serves mainly South Indian Tamil Hindu Singaporeans in the city-state. Due to its architectural and historical significance, the temple has been gazetted a National Monument managed by the Hindu Endowments Board and is a major tourist attraction.
The temple was founded in 1827 by Naraina Pillai, eight years after the British East India Company established a trading settlement in Singapore. Pillai was a government clerk from Penang who arrived in Singapore with Sir Stamford Raffles on his second visit to the Island in May 1819. He went on to set up the Island’s first construction company. He also entered the textile trade and rapidly established himself in business and was identified as a leader of the Indian community.
The initial temple was made of wood and attap, and was very simple. It had a small representation of the goddess Mariamman in the temple. Mariamman is a rural South Indian mother goddess who is especially worshipped for protection against diseases. As is the common practice, a Hindu temple are named after its principal deity.
The intricately carved six tiered gopuram (statuary above the entrance) is a widely recognised iconic landmark in Chinatown. The side streets flanking the temple were named in reference to the temple and its prominent tower – Pagoda Street and Temple Street. The unique annual Thimithi fire-walking ceremony is held here, about a week before Deepavali – Festival of Lights.

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