Sri Maha Mariamman Temple is the first Hindu temple in Tanjung Bungah, Penang. It is also the only double-storey Hindu temple in the island. The temple was built in 1920 by the Heng Ee Rubber plantation workers and was completed in 1930. The workers built the temple to honour their deity, Maha Mariamman.
Indians, especially Tamils worship Mariammanas the God of Rain and Mother Nature. She is looked upon as protector, goddess of disease and protection. They believe that she protects her devotees from unholy events.
The word “Mariamman” came from a combination of 2 words – “mari” which means power and “amman” which means mother. The “maha” means great. So the literal meaning of the word in English is “great powerful mother”. Some Hindus may simply call the place the “Amman Temple”.
From outside the temple you will immediately see the intricate sculpted wall tower on top of the entrance door, also called gopuram. Inside you will find many different statues of Hindu deities and sacred animals. The temple is bursting with colour and details.
When the temple was built in 1920, it was initially a single-storey structure. It was renovated and turned into a double-storey building only in 1990.Another recent major renovation costed RM300,000 including the repainting of the whole building and transporting of new statues. The renovation fund was accumulated through fundraising campaign and soliciting from several private supporters. According to Hindu customs, temples need to undergo renovations once every 12 years.
In March 2012, the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple had its sixth consecration ceremony, following its last one in year 2000. During the consecration ceremony, thousands of Hindu devotees gathered at the temple in Old ham Road where they burned incense and chanted their mantras “Om Shanti” meaning “peace be unto all” as priests climbed to the top of the temple to pour holy water over the tower and spray onto the devotees who had gathered below the temple.
Aside from the consecration ceremony, there are also different practices held here at the temple. One example is the fire walking ceremony, a ritual which recreates prosperous events from the Hindu epic Mahabharata. This is held once a year at the temple.
People also gather here during the Taipusam and Deepavali festivals. There are other Sri Maha Mariamman temples in Penang, the oldest one is found in Queen Street which was built in 1833.
To get to Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Tanjung Bungah from KOMTAR bus terminal, you can take Rapid Bus Penang No 103 and get down at the bus stop opposite Flamingo by the Beach Hotel. Then head on to Jalan Cheah Seng Kim, and then turn left at Jalan Old ham heading west. It may take a minute to reach the temple.
You can also take Rapid Penang Bus No 101 from KOMTAR bus terminal and alight at Menara Asas in Teluk Bahang. Walk about 400m heading east on Jalan Tanjung Bungah and then turn right towards the temple.
When visiting the temple, remember to be respectful at all times, wear decent clothing and remove your shoes before entering the temple.