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Sri Mahamariamman Templeat Queen Street

Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple at Queen Street is dedicated to the Goddess who can take nine different forms. In Sanskrit, Amman means temple.  Hindus pray twice a day, once around sunrise and another time around sundown.

	exterior of Sri Mahamariamman temple
Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple at Queen Street

The temple is open for a few hours during prayer times. Visitors are allowed to go in, regardless of religions to observe the prayers and also to see the artifacts inside the temple. You must take off your shoes and also your hat when you are in there. Photos may be taken but not of the central figures in the middle of the temple. Also, please pay respect to those who are praying by not taking their photos.

This small temple is sandwiched between Queen Street and Jalan Masjid Kapitan Keling. Even though it is small, it plays a big part in many ceremonies among the devotees in Penang. This is where people flock in to pray during Thaipusam, Deepavali or the harvest festival, Ponggal. A kolam is permanently drawn in paint in the shape of a lotus flower at the entrance of the flower.

part of 
	the ceiling of the temple
The intricate teak carving of the twelve zodiacs, this was taken with a flash as it was gloomy in the temple.

For the very first time I entered the temple following a tour organized by Penang Heritage Trust. Actually it was not a prayer time yet, but the caretaker of the temple kindly opened the door for us. Those who had not been inside took the opportunity to enter and listen to the briefing by the caretaker.

	figurines signifying the planets
The nine black granite figurines representing nine planets in the solar system.

The priests are especially brought in from India. They stay for three years. After their time is up, other ordained priests come to take their places. Priests in Hinduism are allowed to marry and have children, just like ordinary people. So that they can experience the normal lives and feel the happiness and pain just like the rest of us.

carving on
	 the wall of a hindu temple
Carvings and artifacts in the temple.

The interior of the temple is a little gloomy and cool. I noticed that most of the little shrines around the central figure have clothes in yellow especially to dress them. As this religion gives a lot of weight to zodiacs, the roof of the temple is adorned with intricate carvings made out of teak wood to symbolize all twelve zodiacs.

View from the interior to Jalan Kapitan Keling View from the interior to Jalan Kapitan Keling
View from the interior to Jalan Kapitan Keling; one of the shrines dedicated to a patron saint.

At another corner also, there were nine small black granite figures made to represent the nine planets of the solar system. The ancient names are written alongside modern English name. This small altar serves as a central point for sick people to come and circle around it nine times. The astrologers well versed in the arcane art of horoscope will advise the patients what to do based on their date and time of birth. It is interesting that this is the basis of all modern horoscopes being practiced today.

I left the temple being satisfied as I have always been intrigued by Hindu temples and I have never been in into one before. Hindus are pre-dominantly Indian but other races also embrace this religion too. The visit to Sri Mahamariamman temple was surely an educational one for me. 

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