SINGAPORE - Thousands of devotees and well-wishers thronged the 120-year-old Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple in Katong for its consecration ceremony today.
Among them were former President S R Nathan, Emeritus Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam, Manpower Minister Tan Chuan-Jin, and Marine Parade GRC MP Fatimah Lateef.
The two Cabinet Ministers present told reporters the temple and ceremony was a cornerstone to Singapore's cultural and racial harmony.
Mr Tan said the temple adds colour to the community, and helps Singaporeans better understand a part of their culture and heritage.
"We are moving very fast as a society but we do need to be anchored to our roots and our culture. Heritage is very important to our culture and make-up as Singaporeans as well," he said.
Mr Shanmugam added: "This is a very historical temple, built and maintained by the Ceylonese Tamils but also open to the entire community - not just Hindus but also the many others who come here and pray. They believe in it."
An estimated 10,000 people visited the temple on Monday for the consecration ceremony, which is called the Maha Kumbhabishegam, and is held once every 12 years at all Hindu temples following renovations and repairs to re-energise the deities.
The Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple at Ceylon Road has been recognised as a historic site by the National Heritage Board.
Among the new features of its $4-million renovations starting last August is a modern kitchen, which can churn out curry for 1,500 devotees in 30 minutes. The fully-automated kitchen is believed to be the first such facility in a temple here.
Its management is awaiting approval from the authorities to erect a $1.5-million 32-feet Lord Vinayagar statue, to be carved out of a single slab of granite stone.