In many religions women are considered to be the gentler sex. To see why this definitely isn’t the case in Hinduism, visit the Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple in Singapore’s Little India neighbourhood, which is dedicated the fierce goddess Kali.
Although she looks peaceful on the temple’s entrance sign, the statues inside show the Hindu goddess Kali in her usual form: wearing a necklace of human heads and standing on the corpse of her husband. Needless to say, she is considered a very powerful goddess and devotees come to her temple to make offerings. Though she looks like someone you wouldn’t want to cross, she’s actually the “Destroyer of Evil” and offers her protection to people who are good.
Other temple art shows Kali’s maternal side and pictures her with her two sons – Ganesh, the elephant-headed god, and Murugan, the deity associated with the gory Thaipusam Festival held in Singapore and Malaysia every year.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore and is believed to have been founded in 1881 by labourers from the North Indian state of Bengal. Being so far from home, it’s no wonder they chose such a powerful and protective goddess to dedicate the temple to.
Of course, the temple has undergone extensive renovations and rebuilding since it was founded. Its most distinguishing feature, the entrance tower with intricate carvings of Hindu deities, was added in the 1980s and is actually of a South Indian design, in contrast to the temple’s North Indian heritage.
Visitors are welcome inside the temple during designated hours. You’ll need to remove your shoes and leave them at one of the racks by the entrance. Photography is allowed, just bear in mind that this is an active site of worship and do not disturb anyone who is praying. If you’d like to leave an offering, you can buy a garland of flowers at the kiosks on Serangoon Road.
The temple is usually open from 5:30 till 12:15 and 16:00 till 22:00 and admission is free. If you arrive a bit too early, you can kill time over a cup of masala tea at the excellent (and very cheap) Suriya Vegetarian Restaurant opposite the temple.
The Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is one of the recommended stops on our quick walking tour of Little India.
By Tanya Procyshyn
Last updated on 5th April, 2015.