Sri Mariamman Temple (244 South Bridge Road, Chinatown) is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Its site was acquired in 1823 by Narayan Pillai, a clerk of the East India Company who had accompanied Sir Stamford Raffles to Singapore. Historical evidence suggests that by 1827 a wood and thatched temple stood here. By 1862-63 the present structure had been constructed. It has, however, undergone several renovations over the years; the last one took place in 1996. Since its foundation the Temple has occupied a unique place in the life of the Hindu community in Singapore and has been gazetted as a National Monument by the Government. It has been used as a place of lodging for new immigrants (till 1900s) and as a Registry for Births and Death. The Temple Committee has helped settle disputes between community-members, and more recently has played an important role in promoting arts, literacy and Tamil education.
The Temple is dedicated to Sri Mariamman, a manifestation of the Great Goddess, worshipped for health and prosperity. Sri Mariamman is popular in Southern India where goddesses are addressed as amman ('mother'). Given the large South Indian community in Singapore, temples dedicated to the Goddess and deities popular in South India dominate the landscape.
(Click on the pictures to obtain larger images, which take longer to download. Or take a look at a century-old photograph of the temple.)
Photographs © George P. Landow and Jay Rosenthal may be used without written permission for any educational purpose. Any commercial or other use requires prior written permission from .
Dehijia, Vidya (ed), Devi. The Great Goddess. Female Divinity in South Asian Art. Washington, D.C., Arthur M. Shackler Gallery, 1999.
Michell, George. Architecture and Art of Southern India. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Liu, Gretchen. In granite and chunam: the national monuments of Singapore. Singapore, Landmark Books and Preservation of Monuments Board, 1996.
Sinha, Vineeta. 'Hinduism in Contemporary Singapore,' in K.S. Sandhu & A. Mani, ed., Indian communities in Southeast Asia. Singapore, ISEAS and Times Academic Press, 1993. pp. 827-47.
Devi: the Great Goddess
Hindu Endowment Board, Singapore