Singapore, land of multi religious culturalism

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Singapore, Sep 23: Three Hindu temples in Singapore also house 'Chinese dieties' and 'Buddha statues', a reflection of the multi-racial and multi-religious culture of the City State.

These sites are devoted to polytheistic religions such as Hindusim and Taoism and have mixture of deities from both the religions, said Prof. Lily Kong National University of Singapore.

The Sri Krishnan Temple, which was set up in 1870 next to a Chinese temple in Central Singapore in 1991 installed a statue of the Godess of Mercy, Guanyin, and an urn, along side the 12 other Hindu ceremonial dieties making it a perfect symbol of multiiculturalism, the Sunday Times reported.

The Hindu temple is now a gazetted a historic site with more than 1,000 visitors daily. The installation of the Chinese deity in the Sri Krishnan Temple had not gone down well initialy with eyebrows raised but soon religious tolerance triumphed over sectarianism with both Hindus and non-Hindus praying side by side, said temple trustee Mr P Siva.

The multi-religious sites comes about not because other dieties have been 'imposed' but as a matter of fact religious adherents themselves have introduced them into their places of worships, said Prof King.

Potential conflict is obviated because such instances of multi-culturalism comes from the ground, added the Professor. These religions boasts of pantheon of dieties and are not subservient to one single God as in monotheistic religions as such more deities from other religions leads to expansion of the pantheon, she explains.

The Loyang Tua Pek Kong Temple is a perfect symbol of multi religionism with symbols from divergent faiths right from Taoism to Islam.

It has a 2.4m tall statue of the Taoist diety Tua Pek Kong, a Chinese diety reverend Merchant God or God of Prosperity, Buddhist statues, Hindu idols and a Malay Mulsim shrine (kramat).

The Sree Ramar Temple has grown from a 1940-built hut in the Changi village on the east coast of Singapore to a 7,000 sq ft complex and has a 6.4 m tall statue of Hanuman, the tallest in South East Asia, along with a Guanyin statue and a Buddha statue.

The Chinese devotees have a special relationship with the Shri Ramar Temple as some of them sponsor food during Hindu festivals at the temple, its president Mr N K Sundarajoo says.

The Murugan Hill Temple, founded in 1962 on Bukit (hill) Timah in northern part of Singapore, has added a Guanyin statue since 1985 on the advise of the Chinese villages living in the vicinity.

The legacy goes on like this that one of the temple committee members dreamt of a woman in white sitting on the staircase leading to temple, which the villagers interpreting as the Chinese diety Guanyin.

It is not unusual to see a Buddhist temple next to a Hindu temple and a Mosque in close proximity to a church, says the report.

''We have a lot of tolerance in Singapore and I think multi-religious places of worships reflect just that,'' Mr Siva asserts.


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