Scoring God points in Singapore
Whenever we’d pray at the temple, my uncle Ranjit would joking say that we were collecting “God points.” Using that logic, I scored some major God points during my visit to Singapore! The best part of traveling is learning about the local culture and customs, and for me, that includes religious practices as well. I generally find houses of worship to be so peaceful and comforting. And if you’re willing to enter with an open mind, I find that that similarities between them tend to be far more numerous than their differences (but that is a whole other topic of conversation!).
Amit’s friend Andrew spent a whole day showing us around Singapore. Our first stop was the Sri Marriamman Hindu temple in… Chinatown! That was a bit of a surprise, but since we were there, we decided to stop in. As luck would have it, we were just in time for a puja (service) so Amit and I participated in that, and received our blessings from the Iyer (priest). A nice way to start the day, if you ask me! The temple design, particularly the interior, was similar to the Hindu temples I’ve been to in the US, however this temple had an open air concept, common to those temples found in warmer climates.
Later in the tour, we came to the Buddha Tooth Relic temple and museum. I have been to several Buddhist temples during my travels to Thailand a few years back, but this temple was unique in that there were rows and rows of seats inside, filled with parishioners and monks. We walked in during readings of scriptures, which was really beautiful to hear. This temple was very ornate and lavish, with a large gold Buddha in the center, and smaller figures around the perimeter. Stunning!
Lastly, we explored the Arab district, the focal point of which is the Sultan mosque. This was my first time visiting a mosque, so I was looking forward to the experience. I was a little worried about my attire, as I didn’t think my attire would be modest enough for Islamic standards, but this particular mosque provided full robes for visitors. There was a friendly guide present to answer additional questions. He pointed out a curtained prayer area on the main floor for women who were unable to climb the stairs to the women’s prayer area, yet still wanted to maintain their modesty during prayer, and explained some of the origins and customs of the Muslim faith. Additionally, there were several displays in the lobby area with FAQs, which I found informative.
Have you ever visited a house of worship on your travels?