Veeramakali Amman Temple is the second oldest temple in Singapore (first being Mariamman Temple) and is located in the heart of Little India. Built with a Dravidian style architecture, it has a long history and has undergone many changes. Did you know that this temple was used as a bomb shelter during Japanese air raids in 1942? Apart from the thousands of Indian devotees, hundreds of Chinese and westerners visit this temple everyday. Everything you see here today has been renovated, I mean EVERYTHING..idols, walls, towers and even ceremonies have changed. Let us delve into this mysterious temple dedicated to Veeramakali, the Goddess who punishes all evil doers.
|The front tower (gopuram) of Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple|
Address: 141, Serangoon Road, Singapore - 218042.
Phone: 62954538 ; 62934634
Timings: 8 A.M to 12.30 P.M ; 4 P.M to 8.30 P.M; Open Everyday
Entrance Fee: Free
Note: It is often erroneously assumed that Veermakali is Kali, a Hindu Goddess most popular in West Bengal. However, Veeramakaliamman is a Tamil God with distinctly different history. Click here to learn more.
|A rare photo of Veeramakali Amman temple before demolition in 1983|
Initial Temple: In 1843, a small group of Tamil potter (Kuyavar) community workers migrated from Batang Berjuntai (now Bestari Jaya) migrated to Singapore. They had been involved in building lime kilns and railroads in Malaysia and had already established a primitive Veeramakali Amman Temple in Batang Berjuntai, Selangor, Malaysia. Soon after arriving in Singapore, they established a small clay statue of Veeramakaliamman in Serangoon Road. This marked the beginning of the large temple complex which stands now. However, the statue remained even without a ceiling or an entrance for the next 10 years making it convenient for pedestrians to do a "quick worship" as they passed by. In 1854, a small primitive roof made of palm leaves was built. Over the next 50 years, this small temple saw minimal development.
|The front view of the old Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple, Singapore|
|A side view of the old Veeramakali Amman temple, also called "Sunnambukal Kovil"|
|The new temple has colorful statues inside and has a plethora of Hindu Gods|
|Statue of Veeramakaliamman is 2 feet tall and 1 feet wide|
Veeramakaliamman: The primary deity of the temple is surprisingly small with just 2 feet in height and is made of jet black stone. The rest of the body is often heavily ornamented, and the face shows a distinct feeling of rage and anger. While the original clay statue had only 2 hands, the current statue has 8 hands holding multiple weapons and instruments.
Vinayagar: Originally called Ganesha, he is the Hindu God with the head of an elephant and a human torso. He is the only son of Shiva and Parvathi according to Sanskrit texts. He must be worshiped first, before the beginning of any ceremony. This large elephant god travels mounted on a tiny mouse, which is oxymoronic unless you learn the underlying philosophy.
|Periyachi Amman is a Tamil God with a fascinating story|
Dakshinamurthy: He is the only God in Hinduism, who always faces south. Dakshinamurthy is the God of education, and is known as the omniscient guru. According to Hindu mythology, it is Shiva himself. He is commonly seen in Hindu temples of South India.
|Lakshmi Durgai is mounted on a lion and has 18 hands (look closer)|
Murugan: A much venerated Tamil God, whose temples are found all over South India, Ceylon, Malaysia and Singapore. Murugan is mentioned in ancient Tamil texts as early as 4th century B.C. Later, efforts were made to combine him with proper "Hindu" mythology which proved futile. While the Tamil community considers him as a son of Shiva, the majority of Hindus do not accept this concept.
Ramar: A Tamilized version of Rama from Sanskrit, a well known god and the hero of the Hindu epic Ramayana. One of the few Hindu gods who was monogamous, and is worshiped by women to keep their husbands faithful. Note that this is the only statue in this temple that represents Vishnu.
|From left to right: Madurai Veeran, Sinna Karuppar & Periya Karuppa|
Sinna Karuppar: Also spelled as Chinna Karuppar, he is the younger brother of Periya Karuppar. Known for his loyalty and fierce fighting skills, he never stands alone. His statue cannot be present without his brother.
Muthal Raja: A truly fascinating Tamil God with rags to riches history, eventually attaining divine status. Also known as Muthala arasan or simply Muthalan, he is immensely popular in villages of Tamil Nadu. Unlike his counterparts, he sports a very unique look. Bearded and sitting down calmly like a saint, and is worshiped for his intelligence and bravery.
|Idumbar carries two mountains on either side of the sling|
Chandikeswarar: In front of this statue, devotees clap loudly or snap their fingers. Instead of bowing or saluting with hands together, Chandikeswarar prefers that people clap in front of him. For this reason, Chandikeswarar is often called the "Deaf God" (Sevuttu Saami).
Sani: Representing the planet Saturn, this God is often referred to as "Saneeswaran" or "Sani Baghavan". According to Hindu astrology, the presence of Saturn plays an important role in your well being. People who experience difficult periods in life give offerings to Sani, to appease him.
Other important deities in this temple are Kasi Viswanathar, Visalatchi, Bhairavar, Nagar and Madurai Veeran.
Thai Poosam (Jan-Feb): This festival is so popular that it is a public holiday in Singapore and Malaysia. Thai Poosam falls on the full moon day of Tamil month Thai. On this day, devotees take up self-punishment for their wrong doings. Self impalement on tongues and skin, flagellation and carrying Kavadi (heavy sling) on shoulders are done.
|A devotee wears a fake mustache, eyebrows and makeup - carries a firepot during Periyachi Poojai|
Annual Brahma Utsavam (February): A holy flag is raised in the temple (kodi yetram) in honor of Veeramakali Amman, and she will be taken around in a chariot. Many holy kumbams (vessels) will be distributed to devotees who chant the deity's name. This festival is celebrated every year and many senior citizens actively take part on this occasion.
|Murugan with his two wives Valli & Deivanai - decorated for Kanda Sashti festival|
Panguni Uthram (March): This occurs on the full moon day of Tamil month Panguni. According to mythology, Lord Murugan married Deivanai on this day. Therefore the wedding is recreated by priests every year in the temple. Also, Murugan is placed on a chariot and is taken outside the temple on the Serangoon road. Thousands of people gather to watch this spectacle.
|Gold and silver plated coins with deities engraved are sold in the temple premises|
|A large 6 story building is being built to accommodate the growing religious & cultural activities|
Visiting Sri Veeramakaliamman Temple is certainly one of the top 10 things to do in Singapore. Like the Mariamman Temple, this temple is one of the most revered places of worship in Singapore. This is a fascinating place not only for tourists, but also to local Singaporeans. Don't forget to visit this fantastic temple while you are in Little India. Now, let us look deeply into who Veeramakaliamman really is!