Our first stop upon arriving in Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur was to visit the Sri Mahamariamman temple. This gorgeous temple was built in 1873, the most popular & richest Hindu temple in all of Kuala Lumpur. And ironically, it’s located in Chinatown. Most the Indian population here are from the Southern tip of India, the Tamil Nadu state. Many immigrated to Kuala Lumpur for better job and life opportunities. Some others were brought over by the bloody Brits during their invasion. Today, the Indians stand as the 3rd most popular ethnicity in Malaysia. I’ve also included in this post where to eat near Sri Mahamariamman temple.
Sri Mahamariamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur
By visiting the Hindu temples, one can tell what part of India they’re from by observing which Gods they worship. Typically, if the God name, ‘Sri‘, is at the start of the temple name, it will be a South Indian temple.
Upon entrance of Sri Mahamariamman Temple, we circled around the temple 3 times. This is a common ritual to pay respect to Lord Ganesha, the elephant headed God who represents the “Remover of Obstacles”. The shortened story goes, Ganesha and his brother had a bet who could go around the world fastest. While his brother set out on foot to circle the world, Ganesha instead circled around his parents, who are resemblance of the universe. Ganesha won this bet which has now become a ritual for Hindus to circle around the temple in honor of Ganesha’s filial and wise act.
Observing the Daily Puja
As our luck would have it on the day we visited, the daily Puja, “offerings to the Gods”, would soon start. The Puja is typically held daily at 4:30pm. For the next 45 minutes, 2 priests (acting as a band) beat on a drum and flute performing loud & lively, invoking the spirits of the Gods. The beats radiated outside the temple into the neighborhood, a common ritual to ward off any evils that could be spoken during Puja (worship). 2 main temple priests in their white lungees, began their offerings to each shrine in the temple. They draped beautiful orange garlands on Lord Krishna, Ganesha, Ayappa, Boo Devi among other deities. Local Hindus and visitors gathered around passionately taking in these blessings and good Karma as flames lit on candles providing Tapas, “heat” to purify sins. I’m always intrigued to learn about different religions directly by being involved in their ceremony.
Where to Eat Near Sri Mahamariamman Temple
When the Puja came to an end, we wandered out of Chinatown into Little India. The two ethnic towns, with heavy influence in Malaysian culture, are intertwined and has no real border between the two. We stumbled across Hameeds Restaurant, a Halal Indian restaurant. This is where I’d taste the fluffiest, softest, most delicious Roti I’ve ever had. And this also set the precedence for the Roti standard for my remaining stay in Kuala Lumpur. I felt the urgency to try every Roti I came across. Rotis are an inexpensive treat in KL as they typically cost around 30 cents each. Which leads to a tally in my Travel journal of how many Rotis I will eat during this trip.