15,000 brave rain for temple's consecration ceremony
Consecration at Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Chinatown happens once every 12 years
Even during heavy rain early yesterday morning, the crowds outside the Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple in Chinatown grew, covering the roads in bright colours with their ponchos, umbrellas and traditional wear.
About 15,000 devotees gathered for the consecration ceremony - which happens once every 12 years - that marked the re-energising of the 94-year-old temple and its deity within.
The ceremony also marked the end of seven months of renovation and maintenance work that cost about $1 million. The facilities were upgraded, including the addition of a wheelchair ramp, repainting of murals and more cubicles in the restrooms.
In the crowd outside the temple in Keong Saik Road was Mr Yaepan Chanpran, a machine operator, who woke up at 5am to be one of the first ones outside the temple at 7am. The 58-year-old has been worshipping at the temple for more than 20 years.
For more than an hour from 8.30am, the devotees chanted as a procession of priests who held pots of sacred water headed to the top of the temple roof.
At 9.50am, they sprinkled the water from the roof, signifying the completion of the ceremony. By then, the skies cleared as the guest of honour, Education Minister Ong Ye Kung, and MPs Joan Pereira and Murali Pillai entered the temple to observe some rituals.
A common practice at the temple is to make 108 rounds of the sanctum. Around 5,000 people perform this ritual at the temple on a regular day, said temple president R.M. Muthaiah.
The renovations have maximised the space where devotees can worship and carry out the ritual.
Mr Muthaiah said the temple has drawn devotees from many different cultures for years.
"In fact, the first person to (enter the temple) every day is a Chinese man, an ardent devotee. Every day without fail, he will be the first person standing outside when we open the door," he added.
For Mr Koh Kok Wah, 57, it was his first time attending a consecration ceremony after two of his Indian friends invited him.
He has been praying to the elephant-headed Hindu god Ganesha for many years, even though he identifies himself as a Buddhist.
"I found the Hindu rituals in the ceremony very interesting," said Mr Koh, who owns a small shop selling Buddhist talismans.