Singapore, April 23: For the first time since assuming office in 2004, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong led some 40,000 devotees and four ministers at a 164-year-old Hindu temple's reconsecration ceremony in Singapore, following the completion of its SGD 4.5 million restoration work.
"This 164-year-old temple has been undergoing renovations for the last 1.5 years to prepare for its re-consecration, which takes place every 12 years," the prime minister tweeted last night of the iconic Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in the Little India precinct.
After attending yesterday morning's ceremony, Minister of Trade and Industry S Iswaran said the occasion reflected the diversity in Singapore community.
The temple - one of the oldest in Singapore - was re-sanctified in a consecration ceremony called the "Maha Samprokshanam", which would be followed by a period of 45 days of cultural programmes known as the "mandalabishegam".
"The prime minister's presence here today, having travelled overnight from overseas (Commonwealth meetings in London), is a remarkable validation of the commitment the government has, that PM Lee also has, to this," Iswaran said.
"It is an opportunity to bring together different communities so that we develop this mutual understanding and respect and continue to build on Singapore's multi-racial fabric," The Straits Times quoted the minister as saying.
"Such events indeed, reflect the diversity as well as the harmony we have in our multi-religious, multiracial society," Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing, who was also present on the occasion, said in a Twitter post.
The ceremony was touted as the most significant event on the Hindu calendar this year, according to a report by The Straits Times today.
This was the first time Prime Minister Lee visited a Hindu consecration ceremony since he assumed office in 2004. Grace Fu, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, and Janil Puthucheary, Senior Minister of State for Education, Communications and Information, were present on the occasion.
A team of 20 artisans, known as "sthapathis" were flown in from India for restoration work. Built in 1854, the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple was declared a national monument by Singapore's Preservation of Monuments Board in 1978.