Hinduism is the oldest of the existing religions. It is also called ‘Sanatana Dharma or Eternal Religion’ because it is based on the eternal truths. The holy book for Hindus is Vedas which was not written by a single person, but it is a compilation of the revelation of seers.

The different attributes to this Truth or the reality is given a form symbolically. That is how the forms of Gods and Goddesses came into picture. For understanding of creation, sustenance and dissolution the concept of three Gods or “Trimurthy’ is conceived. The individuals whom we idealise or who realized the Truth are considered as incarnations and they are worshipped as representation of the eternal Truth.

To establish devotional relation with those forms of Gods or Goddesses, the ritualistic worship came in to practice. Accepting different cultures, slowly the temples and statues became an integral part of Hindu religious culture.

There are about two hundred thousand Hindus in Singapore, and about 38 small and big temples in total.

The Temple

Before entering a Hindu temple, one should remove one’s footwear although socks may be worn, if one wishes. One should refrain from smoking or disturbing devotees during prayers. As a mark of respect for the sanctity of the deities, one does not touch the images. Visitors are free to walk around the temple, view and take photographs of its sculptural and architectural features.


Worship or puja is an act of prayer showing love and reverence to God. The many deities Hindus worship are believed to be the various manifestations of the one Supreme God. The Trinity – made up of Brahma the Creator, Vishnu the Preserver, Siva the Absorber – together with Amman who is also known as Devi, have gained prominence in the Hindu Pantheon. There are also other deities in the Pantheon who have a significant following among the Hindus. The temple is the dwelling place of the deities.


Deepavali or Diwali is known as the Festival of Lights as it marks light overcoming darkness or knowledge over ignorance. This is symbolized by the lighting of oil lamps in homes. Deepavali usually falls in the month of October/November.

Most Hindus celebrate New Year and it falls generally on 13th or 14th April. On this day, families pray in the temple and go on a strict vegetarian diet. The Harvest Festival or Pongal is celebrated from 13th to 16th January. Newly harvested rice is cooked with milk and brown sugar and offered to the Sun God before being consumed by all in the family.

Thaipusam is a day of thanksgiving to Lord Murugan for fulfilling the prayers of devotees. Devotees undergo fasting, eating only vegetarian meals for a period of one to 45 days before carrying the milk pot on their heads or carrying kavadis in procession to the temple of Lord Murugan on the day of Thaipusam as an act of thanksgiving for prayers answered and blessings fulfilled.

Kavadi is a garlanded wooden arch carried by the devotees who have pierced their tongues with skewers. Heavier metal kavadis are decorated with peacock feathers, flowers, palm leaves and spears; and the devotees have spikes pierced on to their skin. Thaipusam usually falls in January or February.

Fire Walking Festival or the Thimithi honours Princess Draupadai, a goddess, who proved her innocence by walking on hot coals. Devotees walk over beds of burning coal to express their religious faith and to fulfill promises made to the deities.


The majority of Hindus are vegetarians. Some are non-vegetarians but avoid beef and pork.