Sri Siva-Krishna Temple welcomes migrant worker devotees again for Deepavali celebrations

Devotees praying at Sri Siva-Krishna Temple on Nov 4, 2021. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG
Devotees entering Sri Siva-Krishna Temple on Nov 4, 2021. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG
Senior Minister of State Zaqy Mohamad speaking with devotees during a temple visit on Nov 4, 2021. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

SINGAPORE - Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Mr Kuppan Rengusamy, who works as a manufacturing operator, is grateful that he is able to keep his job and that his family members back in India are safe and healthy.

The 29-year-old Indian migrant worker, who has been working in Singapore for nine years, was even happier to get a four-hour exit pass from his dormitory in Senoko during the Deepavali holiday, so that he could visit the Sri Siva-Krishna Temple in Marsiling Rise with his friends to offer thanksgiving prayers.

He said: "I am happy to be outside as I can meet up with friends. It helps me to relieve stress."

He was one of about 800 devotees who turned up at the temple between 7am and noon on Thursday (Nov 4) for prayers in celebration of Deepavali.

Senior Minister of State for Defence and Manpower Zaqy Mohamad, who is also adviser to Marsiling-Yew Tee GRC grassroots organisations (Marsiling), visited the temple and toured the newly completed annex building.

Among its new facilities are a multi-purpose hall, meeting rooms, classrooms, a dance studio and an open terrace for yoga sessions.

A two-storey building, previously living quarters for the priest, was torn down in 2019 for the annex building's construction.

Mr Zaqy also spoke with devotees, and gave out 34 blessing bags to some of them. Each blessing bag contained a packet of murukku, a tray of cookies and a tin of mixed nuts.

He said: "I think it is very heartening to share blessings with the residents, and we also have many foreign workers here from the nearby dorms. It is wonderful to see how the community is celebrating Deepavali together and creating inclusiveness for both local residents and migrant workers.

"I am heartened that the temple also makes them feel welcome by allowing them to volunteer and be part of the family as well... This is where you see inclusiveness in the community - where our local volunteers and foreign volunteers worked hand in hand to make it a more vibrant place."

Migrant worker Subbiah Ramesh, 33, who has been working as a delivery driver here for the past 12 years, started visiting the temple about three years ago when he moved to Marsiling.

The Indian national has been volunteering there for about 1½ years, helping out wherever he is needed, such as in the kitchen and making sure that devotees check in with SafeEntry at the entrance of the temple.

Devotees praying at the Sri Siva-Krishna Temple in Marsiling on Nov 4, 2021. ST PHOTO: SAMUEL ANG

Other migrant workers such as Mr Ganapathy, who goes by only one name and lives in a Woodlands dormitory, visited the temple with his friends. He was glad to be outside even for just four hours, due to the Covid-19 restrictions.

"We cannot stay inside (the dormitory) for the whole day, so I am happy to be able to relax for a while outside," said the 25-year-old Indian national, who has been working here for three years as a project coordinator.

Devotees on Thursday told The Straits Times that they looked forward to participating in more activities in the temple's newly built annex building.

Student Brinda Rajendran, 22, who used to attend yoga classes at the temple, hopes to attend the lessons in a wider space.

She said: "It's going to be so much better because it was so squeezy before, when there was no Covid-19. There was limited space for us to move during yoga class. Now, they have a room that they can split into two classrooms or open up into a huge classroom. That would be so good for us."

Curator Gurusamy Permalo, 50, believes that the activities that the temple committee has planned, such as music and devotional singing classes, will help to preserve and pass on Hindu culture, and even introduce it to other races.

He said: "It educates people and especially young children who, in this modern society... are losing touch with religious practices.

"I think it also helps the other races to understand Hindu culture and, in a way, helps to promote racial harmony."

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