History of Sri Ayyanareeswarar Temple

GLIMPSES OF THE PAST

Swamiye Saranam Ayyappa - Sri Ayyanareeswarar Temple is an example of the religious trait of the Tamil Hindus who established temples wherever they went and which formed the Centre of their community life. True to form, Tamil Hindus established such a temple on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur that is now the subject of this article.

ORIGINS

The present new town of Wangsa Maju and Wardieburn Military Camp and the surrounding areas were once part of a sprawling rubber estate whose Tamil estate workers established Sri Ayyanareeswarar Temple. The exact date of the establishment of the Temple is in doubt as there are no historical records of such an event. The earliest date of which there is proof is 1914. This date was found on the decorative arch fronting the old Temple where the date 1914 and the Tamil phrase Management Committee indicate that the temple was built in that year.

There were some eyewitnesses who were at the 1914 consecration ceremony of the temple. One of them was the late V. Suppiah driver who recalls that he was about 19 at that time and participated in the grand celebrations. He mentions that the two huge trees which provided providing pleasant shade at the temple entrance were newly planted saplings at the time.

There are also theories whether the temple could have been established earlier (though the Kumbabishegam was held in 1914). Those theories have been fueled by the discovery in 1952 of a temple bell some 200 metres behind the temple bearing the date 1883. This bell has since been taken to England by the Estate Manager but has raised more questions than answers. Was 1883 the actual date of the establishment of the temple or was it the date of a Kumbabishegam or was it the date of the bell’s manufacture? Be whatever it maybe it is indeed a pity that there is no hard proof to substantiate these theories.

THE YEARS 1914- 1945

Apparently no records exist of this period in the Temple’s history and despite our strenuous efforts no person could be located who could shed light of the Temple activities for this period.

The earliest recollection were for the war years of 1941 — 1945.

THE WAR YEARS 1941 - 1945

There are former soldiers of the ‘Indian National Army (I.N.A.) who have vivid recollections of the Temple between the years 1942 - 1943 where the Temple was a resting point for them on their road march. There was a temple caretaker then who performed the daily Poojas to the best of his ability and the I.N.A. soldiers had contributed rice, sugar, oil, salt and other foodstuff to the Temple. During this time the statue of Lord Ayyanar was in a damaged condition; there was a statue of Amman, a picture of Lord Murugan and his Vel. There is also evidence that the Japanese Army used the temple as a temporary vault for their currency notes during the close of the Second World War.

 

EARLY POST WAR YEARS 1945 - 1952

The military presence at the Temple continued even after the end of the War with the arrival of liberation forces of the British Army. Units of the Sinhalese Regiment used the Temple to house a statue of Buddha and conducted Buddhist rites. This was followed by the Gurkhas of the British Army who had a picture of the Goddess Kali painted on the Temple walls and conducted Poojas including sacrifices of chicken and goats.

Such deviations from the consecrated purpose of the Temple had obscured for a time the true identity of the Temple.

TEMPLE REVIVAL 1952 - 1969

The Temple was indeed a sorry sight in 1952. It was deserted, over grown with jungle to the extent that herds of wild boar roamed around the vicinity. This Temple would have suffered the fate of many abandoned buildings if not for the arrival of the Kent Estate workers.

1952 saw the Temple restored to its original or near original form with the over growth being cleared, the Buddha statue removed and the rightful Lord Ayyanar emplaced. The estate workers organised a fund and maintained the Temple and appointed a priest who served till his death in 1996, a period of 44 years.

The Temple also received help from the estate management with tolerant and helpful managers like Mr. Lionel, Mr. Baron Coop, Mr. Thompson, Mr. Leagar and Mr. Bruce. The Temple Priest Mr. P. Krishnan was well respected by the estate management and it was this close rapport that forestalled a plan by the estate management to resite the temple nearer to the estate workers’ quarters and instead concentrate on developing the existing premises.

In 1960, a new statue of Lord Ayyanar replaced the existing damaged statue. This was a result of the kind generosity of Mr. Kamatchi who undertook all the expenses of bringing the new statue from India and the ceremonial installation at the Temple. The Temple Kalasam however was never recovered as it had been stolen even before 1952 and the estate workers made do with a cement replica until 1980.

It was also during this period that the shrine for Lord Munisvarar and Munnadiar was built. In reality this shrine was a relocation of the temple from Kent Estate — 7th mile Jalan Gombak. This estate which was under the same management as Wardieburn had been sold and workers transferred to Wardieburn. It was they who relocated and continued the practice of animal sacrifices until 1960 when the Temple management decided to stop this practice.

Around the sixties Wardieburn Estate fell victim to the practice of fragmenting estates by their management for other development purposes. The land on which the present Temple stands changed hands. It became government property and Subsequently bought over by SPPK. There appeared a dire necessity for the Temple, which so far had been run mainly by workers of the previous estate to be taken over by some organized group to continue its functions,

The leadership came in the form of one Mr. M. Kumarasamy who was a teacher in the Wardieburn Estate Tamil School. In 1966 he formed the first Temple Committee consisting of representatives of all surrounding areas. It is a point of interest that one of this original committee members,

Mr. C. Perumal is still a member of the management committee to this day.

1969 - 1974

The leaving of the British Army and the taking over by the Malaysian Army of the nearby camps saw the influx of many Indian soldiers. They willingly contributed their  time and energy to further develop the temple. More and more prayers, Poojas and rituals as well as religious ceremonies were commenced under the leadership of Mr. M. Kumarasamy. The temple started to progress in leaps and bounds.

From among these soldiers, En. K. Maruthamuthu was appointed the secretary of the temple in 1969. He became a pillar towards galvanizing the energy of the soldiers of not only Wardiburn Camp but also from other camps within Kuala Lumpur. The spiritual activies of the temple started to flourish aided by the the involvement of the Malaysian Hindu Sangam and its then leader Major (rtd) K.Sathiah-En.K.Maratha Muthu is part of the present management committee.

However due to the lack of electricity supply, evening Poojas began at 5.30 p.m. and the temple closed at 7 p.m. after which the temple assumed an air of deserted silence. This situation was rectified in 1972 by the late Supt. Subbiah who arranged for permanent electricity supply at his own expense and who was very helpful in so many ways that his sudden death was a keen loss to the Temple.

1974 - 1975

The years 1974 and 1975 were unfortunate ones for the Temple when the Temple priest Mr. P. Krishnan was removed from Temple and the temple was closed in May 1975 and all doors padlocked. There were no Poojas or celebrations since that month. There were no devotees and the suicide of a woman in front of the Munisvarar’s shrine stopped whatever few devotees who used to come. The Temple registration was cancelled and all properties came under the public Trustee. Truly this period stand as a dark spot in the Temple’s existence.

Lord Ayyanar however did not allow this state to continue and on 30th November 1975 reopened the Temple.

1975 - 1989

The reopening of the Temple was spear headed by four eminent personalities viz:

  1. Dato M. Mahalingam
  2. Dato V.L. Kandan
  3. Dato Dr.A.Arumugasamy
  4. Mr.Rengasamy

 

Dato M. Mahalingam with the assistance of Mr. Vairamuthu, a social worker appointed five representatives. They were:

1)

Mr. Perumal Thevar

Hotspring New Village

2)

Mr. P. Muthu

Wardieburn Estate

3)

Mr. C. Perumal

Kampong Pasir

4)

Mr. Mathavan

Hawthorenden Estate

5)

Mr. V. Balakrishnan

Wardieburn Camp

It was on 30.11.1975 that the Temple was cleansed by properly ordained Sivachariars and responsibility entrusted to the five representatives; it was on that day too, that the Temple Priest Mr.P.Krishnan was recalled and reinstated and the Poojas restarted. The Temple has been growing from that day onwards with the blessings of Lord Ayyanar. Some significant events:

-Establishment of Lord Muruga’s status with a silver spear (Vel) donated by Mr. Pereira.

       -Temple Kalasam consecrated — donation by Hindu members of the 10th Rangers,          Malaysian Army. The Consecration ceremonies were conducted by Siva Sri      Rajasarma Gurukkal from the Scott Road Kandasamy Temple.

    1976-1986  - Efforts to register the Temple with the Registrar of Societies only bore fruit in 1986.

ACQUISITION OF TEMPLE’S LAND

The problem of land for temples is a common one faced by many Hindu Temples in Malaysia and our Sri Ayyanareeswarar Temple too suffered from this. In 1982 there was a letter from City Hall requiring that the temple be removed within 30 days for road widening purposes. Fortunately, with the intervention of Y. B. Dato Sarny Vellu the eviction order was put in abeyance and the process of land acquisition started. A meeting was held on 16 April 1982 which was chaired by Y.B. Dato Sarny Vellu and attended by all the parties concerned and at this meeting a decision was obtained whereby it was made clear that the Temple had to be resited but on the same piece of land. The Landowner S.P.P.K. had no objection to the sale of land.

The problem was settled with S.P.P.K. agreeing to sell 54,000 sq.ft to the Temple. The new Temple has been erected at the same place but on different alignments. All these would not have been possible without the help of Y.B. Dato S. Sarny Veilu and the Temple is forever indebted to him.

It is of course heartwarming to see a new edifice for the glorification of Lord Ayyanar but our happiness is also tinged with a little bit of sadness to know that the existing temple which is more that 75years old is longer there. Be what it may all that happens is the will of the Almighty and nothing man does is on his own.

1989 Till Now

The Temple celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1989 and it can be said that year onwards, the Temple began to plan for the construction of new premises and such efforts bore fruit in September 1999 when the foundation stone was laid by Datin Sri Indrani Samyvelu. Actual construction started in 2000 and we are now witnessing the consecration of the new Sri Ayyanareeswarar Temple in 2006, The cost to date is about RM 3 million.

Sri Ayyanareeswarar Temple is indebted to the many devotees whose contributions in cash, sponsorship and service have made this abode of our Lord Sri Sri Ayyanareeswarar a beautiful reality.