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Indian Painters Give a New Look to Hindu Temple in Singapore

Sri Krishnan temple, Singapore

Sri Krishnan temple, one of the oldest Hindu temples in Singapore, was unveiled on June 3, four years after restoration work began on the structure, the Straits Times reported.

India had a big role to play in the renovation and the consecration ceremony of the 148-year-old temple. Priests have been flown in from India for the ritual, which marks the start of the 48-day consecration process. Stones were also sourced from India to renovate the temple, that is located on Waterloo Street in Singapore. Indian painters provided a facelift to the temple’s ceiling.

The renovation process cost almost S$4 million. The temple was re-sanctified in a consecration ceremony called Maha Samprokshanam, which is conducted every 12 to 15 years, the report said. Around 10,000 devotees attended the ceremony, including Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, S. Iswaran, who was the guest of honor. Members of Parliament Denise Phua and Edwin Tong also attended the ceremony.

The Maha Samprokshanam ceremony was also posted on the social media:

“One of the very interesting features of this temple has been the fact that it has appealed to Singaporeans of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds,” Iswaran was quoted as saying by the publication.

As part of the renovation process, the shrines, pillars, ceilings and dome of the ancient temple were given a facelift. The temple dome and the statues that are around it have been covered in gold-plated copper garbs. Two sculptors worked on the pillars, that are embellished with decorative works, for more than three years.

Eight onyx sanctums have been installed in place of eight cement shrines in the main hall of the temple. The stone, chosen for its durability, was sourced from India. It was then sent to the National University of Singapore to assess its authenticity and strength.

Also, to make sure that devotees are not disturbed, the paintings on the new ceiling — portraying Lord Krishna’s life — were first painted by artists in India and then assembled on site, instead of being painted directly on the ceiling.

“It’s just years of build-up and anticipation for this moment and also gratitude and relief that everything went to plan,” said Sharmila Kanagalingam, an interior design lecturer in Singapore Polytechnic and the daughter-in-law of temple chairman P. Sivaraman. Kanagalingam was involved in the renovation of the temple.

“The major point is easy maintenance in the future. This is especially important amid a decreasing number of temple painters, sculptors and artist,” Sivaraman was quoted as saying in the report. He added that finding suitable materials such as onyx was quite tough.

Even minor details were kept in mind for the renovation. For instance, even the finishing glue had to be perfect, so the stones don’t look artificial. “If we did not varnish in Italian glue, it might not give you that real, rich look for natural stones,” Sivaraman explained.

In April this year, the Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple, a 164-year-old Hindu temple in Singapore, was re-consecrated in a ceremony. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was present at the ceremony, along with around 40,000 devotees.

Also, after undergoing renovation for a year, the Arulmigu Velmurugan Gnana Muneeswarar Temple (AVGMT) in Sengkang, Singapore, finally opened its doors to devotees in March.