History of Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple
Front View during 1940
Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple - Administered by Chettiars' Temple Society, Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple is located in center of China Town at the junction of Keong Saik Road and Kreta Ayer Road.
Nagarthars also called, Nattukkottai Chettiars are famous money lending community from Southern part of Tamilnadu, India.
Located in the busy and bustling commercial area of Singapore, the temple attracts hundreds that includes devotees of all races.
This temple that was built in 1925, has a very long history.
Thiru Muthu Palaniappan Chettiar has written in his book about the temple’s history and the Lord Vinayagar being worshipped in the temple.
"A Saivaite from Chidambaram Town (Tamilnadu) Thiru Ponnambala Swamigal came to Singapore as a soldier with the Indian National Army (INA). He was a family man and he brought with him a Vinayagar Idol for his daily worshipping. When he had to return back to India, he did not intend to bring with him the Vinayagar idol. Thus he wished to hand over the vinayagar idol he workshipped to Singapore Nagarathars. Not able to decline Swami’s request the Nagarathars built the temple and installed the vianayagar idol."
Front View after 2007 Consecration
The main Sanctum has the following God's
The Holy Spear
Thiru A. Palaniappan has written in both English and Tamil about the history of this temple in the "Singapore Hindu" magazine (Section 1 Issue 5 1994 January - March).
The excerpt from his article is as follows.
"The temple began near the new mortuary at the General Hospital. To reach the temple from the army quarters a pathway was created. At the end of the First World War the temple had an Atthapu Roof (roof made of metal sheets) with the idols of Lord Vinayagar and Naagar (Snake God). Hospital staff and prison staff from the prison at Outram Road made a huge portion of the worshippers who visited the temple. Thiru Sanniyasi performed daily prayers at the temple. When he has to return to Tamilnadu, he approached the Nagarathars to takeover the temple from him. Not being able to decline Swami’s request at this time the Nagarathars accepted the offer, built the temple and installed the Vinayagar Idol. They also appointed a Pandaram (Priest) to carry out daily poojas."
10th November 1989
In 1920, the government acquired the temple land as part of the hospital extension plan and gave a sum of money to the Nagarathars. The Nagarathars then bought the current land and built the temple grandly by spending a huge amount of money. During the construction of the new temple, the Nagarathars found the Vinayagar Idol at the old temple near the hospital in a dilapidated condition. So, they decided to bring a new Black Stone Vinayagar Idol from India.
As per the religious agamas (Procedures), the dilapidated idol was to be immersed at sea. But, few Nagarathars felt that it would be a breach of promise made to Thiru Ponnambala Swamigal.
Hence the Nagarathars decided to install the new Black Stone Vinayagar Idol as the main deity and at the same time the old idol was also installed in front of the main deity at the sanctum. Similarly, the Naagar and "Rama Namam" were also installed in the sanctum next to the Vinayagar. In addition, the Nagarathars also installed a Holy Vel (Holy Spear) symbolising Lord Muruga. This new temple was called "Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple" as it was located at the "Sepoy Line" (army quarters).
After the new temple was built, the Nagarathars started the practice of Silver Chariot Procession adorning Urchavar Sri Thendayuthapani to Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple on the day before Thai Pusam. The procession will start from Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road and go through Market Street, a business spot of the Chettiars and finally reach Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple. This same day evening the Chariot will return back to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple with the Holy Vel and Urchavar Sri Thendayuthapani.
16th December 2007
The Nagarathars who were doing pawn broker business at Kittangis (Warehouse shops) had with them idols of several deities for daily worshipping. One Mr. Pichappa Chettiar was well known in the society at that time. He also served as the trustee of Tank Road Sri Thendayuthapani Temple for some time. He donated his Vinayagar idol to the temple when the government acquired the Kittangis that was functioning at Market Street. This idol was also installed as the third Vinayagar idol at the temple’s sanctum.
The Nagarathars conducted the last three consecration ceremony for the temple in 1973, 1989 and 2007. The recent consecration was done in a grand manner on 16.12.2007, Sunday. Nagarathars spent almost S $ 3.5 million in redesigning and renovating the temple.
A beautiful 5 storey Rajagopuram has been added and side walls have been removed to have an open concept inner-pragaram. A multipurpose hall with a seating capacity of around 110 is available for conducting religious and family functions. Although the temple is located at the busy and bustling China Town, the inner-pragaram (the path encircling the main sanctum) is very calm and is suitable for meditation.
Vinayagar Chathurthi is one of the major festivals celebrated grandly at the temple. It is the holy Vel (Holy Spear) that is in this temple been taken in procession to Tank Road Sri Thendayuthapani Temple for the Thai Pusam festival. The milk offered for Lord Muruga on Thai Pusam day is poured on to this Holy Vel.
Special prayers and offerings on Tamil New Year, Deepavali, Thiru Karthigai, Pongal are performed first at this temple before being performed at Sri Thendayuthapani temple. Between thursday to Sunday every week, one can see lot of worshippers making 108 Pragarams to fulfill their owes, that includes devotees from other races. As mentioned above, the temple now has three Vinayagar idols and its worshippers are well blessed with peace and wealth.
Consecration Function 16th December 2007