Polytheism in Asia

Meet With a Balinese Pedanda (High Priest)

Owing to their excellent connections within the local community, Destination Asia Indonesia has joined together with a Pedanda in Bali who has an extensive collection of ancient sanskrit manuscripts. A Pedanda is a High Priest, and one of the holiest titles to be held in Balinese Hinduism. The manuscripts are written on palm leaves and used today to provide advice and resolutions for problems within the local community. Guests receive an introduction to the ancient art of Sanskrit during their visit, learning the basics of an art that has been passed down through the generations. The High Priest will even guide guests through the process of writing their own name in Sanskrit on a palm leaf.

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Visit Sri Mariamman Temple in Singapore

Set up in 1827, the Hindu temple of Sri Mariammam is the oldest in Singapore and its presence in the area adds an additional layer of history and richness to the cultural precinct. The temple is the focus for all aspects of everyday life in the Hindu community – religious, cultural, educational and social.

Hindus believe that the deity goddess Mariamman can cure illnesses and epidemics, leading early settlers to set up a temple dedicated to her. According to the archives, the oldest sections of the existing brick structure of the temple were constructed in 1843 by Indian laborers.

The temple is also the centre of festivities and activities when Theemithi (the fire-walking festival) takes place in October/November each year. As part of the celebrations, devotees start their 4km procession from Sri Srinivasa Perumal Temple in Serangoon Road and head to Sri Mariamman Temple. The highlight is witnessing thousands of male devotees walk barefoot across a bed of burning charcoal before stepping into a pit of milk!

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