About Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple
Administered by the Chettiars’ Temple Society, Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple is located at the junction of Keong Saik Road and Kreta Ayer Road. Built in 1925 and located in the bustling commercial area of Singapore, the temple attracts hundreds of devotees of all races. A unique facet about this temple is that it has 3 Lord Vinayagar deities in the main sanctum.
Vinayagar Chathurthi is a major festival celebrated grandly at the temple. The temple is also part of the annual Thaipusam festival. It is the holy Vel (spear) from this temple which is taken in a silver chariot procession to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple for Thaipusam, unto which milk offered by devotees is poured.
Between Thursday and Sunday every week, devotees throng the temple to circumambulate the main sanctum 108 times to fulfill their vows and seek Lord Sithi Vinayagar’s blessings. Many non-Hindus also pay homage at this temple.
Muthu Palaniappan Chettiar wrote about the temple’s history and the Lord Vinayagar being worshipped in the temple in his book:
“A Saivaite from Chidambaram Town (Tamil Nadu) 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 to India, he did not intend to bring with him the Vinayagar idol. Thus, he wished to hand over the Vinayagar idol he worshipped to Singapore Nagarathars. Not able to decline Swami’s request, the Nagarathars built the temple and installed the Vinayagar idol.”
– extracted from Muthu Palaniappan Chettiar’s book about Temple’s history
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 subsequently bought the current land and built the temple. During the construction of the new temple, the Nagarathars found the Vinayagar idol at the old temple near the hospital in poor condition. Thus, they decided to bring a new black stone Vinayagar idol from India.
As per the religious Agamas (procedures), the old 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 Vinayagar idol as the main deity and at the same time, the old one was also installed in front of the main deity in the sanctum.
A Nagar deity and a Rama Namam were also installed in the sanctum next to the Vinayagar idol. In addition, the Nagarathars installed a holy Vel 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 having a silver chariot procession, bringing the processional deity of Sri Thendayuthapani to Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple the day before Thaipusam.
The chariot procession started from Sri Thendayuthapani Temple at Tank Road and passed through Market Street, a prominent business vicinity of the Chettiars, before reaching Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple. In the evening of the same day, the silver chariot would return to Sri Thendayuthapani Temple with the processional deity and the holy Vel.
The Nagarathars who were doing pawn brokerage at Kittangis (warehouse shops) had with them several idols for their personal daily worship. Mr Pichappa Chettiar was well-known in the community at that time. He also served as the trustee of Sri Thendayuthapani Temple. He donated his Vinayagar idol to the Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple when the government acquired the Kittangis that were functioning at Market Street. It was this idol which was also installed as the third Vinayagar idol in the Temple’s sanctum.
The Nagarathars conducted the last three consecration ceremony for the temple in 1973, 1989 and 2007. In the latest redevelopment, a 5-tiered Rajagopuram was added and side walls of the old temple were removed to create an open concept inner prakaram (corridor). A multipurpose hall with a 110-seating capacity was also constructed.
Vinayagar Chathurthi is one of the major festivals celebrated grandly at the temple. Special prayers conducted on Tamil New Year, Deepavali, Thiru Karthigai, Pongal are performed first at this temple before being conducted at Sri Thendayuthapani Temple.