New beginning for 150-year-old Hindu temple

About 10,000 worshippers thronged the Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman Temple on Sunday to bear witness to the consecration ceremony and receive blessings.

The temple with a 150-year-old history has undergone a $2.5 million refurbishment and is now kitted out with a new glass panel roof to shelter devotees plus other improvements to the entrance and main sanctum.

The consecration ceremony is a Hindu religious rite that infuses divinity to a temple once every 12 years, or when it has been relocated or renovated.

This is the culmination of a year of prayers by priests and the faithful, and follows a procedure laid out by age-old scriptures.

Sri Balachander Sivachariar, the chief priest of the Hindu Endowments Board, led the rite and poured holy water over the pinnacle of the main tower entrance.

Food was also distributed in an open area next to the building in Toa Payoh.

Temple chairman K. Vijayendran said the improvements would ensure a better flow of foot traffic between sanctums within the temple, and offer devotees more protection from the sun and rain.

Hindu Endowments Board chairman S. Rajendran said the reinvigorated temple would continue to stand out as a key religious institution, allowing all races and religions to better understand Hinduism.

Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam was the guest of honour.

After the rite, members of the public were invited to go in and receive blessings.

Bishan resident Raj Rajen said he woke up at 7am to beat the queue.

"Going to the temple after the consecration cleanses one's soul, and gives clarity of thought," said the 39-year-old businessman.

Sunday also marked the start of a 48-day cultural festival that will showcase various Indian dance and music performances at the temple.