Saturday, December 11, 2010

Living In Malaysia: Touristing In Temples

I like places of worship because of the artwork.  In Malaysia the mosques are almost always closed to any but their own people, but the other religions are very welcoming.

I pop into temples and churches whenever I walk past one that looks interesting but I love Hindu temples in particular because the art is extremely colourful.

This one here at the end of Petaling Street, a place famous for it's fake bags and other goods, is very popular with tourists.

Etiquette is easy.

You can wear anything you like but in general it's polite for Westerners to avoid plunging sleeveless tops and shorts.

I think this is not so much for propriety but to show that you take the temple as serious business.  If you come in a Sari like the local ladies, showing off your cleavage and mid-riff is perfectly proper!

You leave your shoes at the door and pay a man some money to make sure they're still there when you are back.

You walk in, wash your feet (clean feet is a hugely symbolic thing in Hindu culture) and then walk about in bare feet.  (I always hope that nobody has verrucas and walk on tiptoe.  So far I've perfectly all right.)

You can take pictures although in general it's polite not to do it when people are praying.


Hindu temples are still very much a part of daily life for believers, so there's always something going on.  Don't let that put you off.  Visitors are generally very welcome.

In the few dozen temples I've popped into, I've found worshipers and priests take it as a compliment to be asked the history of the temple, the meaning of the various offerings, and the history of the gods featured there.

They're usually very informative, but watch out!  You may end up staying for a vegetarian lunch, and making a dozen new friends.

If you do stay for lunch, you'll be told it's all free.  Don't listen to protestations but ask to make a donation to the temple, or local orphanage or something.   Temples support a lot of charities so contributions are always needed.

16 comments:

Harry Spotter said...

How exciting! Love the picture and the info.

The Chair Speaks said...

Lovely and interesting. Somehow I, too, never contract anything walking barefoot in these temples, Batu Caves during Thaipusam as well as in temples all over India.

Khyra And Sometimes Her Mom said...

Thanks for the interesting tips and for sharing the pictures!

Katnip Lounge said...

I envy you being around so much culture and beauty. Las Vegas is devoid of both! Thanks for your "tourist" post!

MoMo said...

Pity about the mosques - they don't seem to mind non-Moslem visitors in the Middle East.

Mr Puddy said...

My mom totally agree with you. Hindu temple is extremely colourful and has so much wonderful details !

Gattina said...

Very beautiful ! I have never seen one life. Mosques yes and tons of cathedrals (all looking the same after a while) !

Whisppy said...

I love that temple at Petaling Street as well. I used to go there quite often when I was in college.....

d'Artagnan Rumblepurr said...

You've always got such great photos and stories my friends!

Au and Target said...

Momo: Indonesia was fine about mosques too (haven't been a in few years though). My fave was the big mosque in central Jakarta built by the Dutch protestant architect. It had a beautiful Javanese garden.

photojoy said...

Beautiful architectures! I'm always impressed with the fact that people those days built up and curved out the towered temples. Thank you for sharing this.

Hannah and Lucy said...

What a magnificent temple - the work details above the door are amazing.

Dianne said...

beautiful place
and interesting info, thanks :)

I will get to reading the novel, I have been looking for work and that is very time consuming

Admiral Hestorb said...

Mom has been in the near east but that is as far as she got. She loves reading about where you are and seeing the pictures.
xox

mizzyN said...

I took several pics of the temple a few months ago. Take a look here.

http://gambaqq.blogspot.com/2010/10/mari-membuat-ulangkaji.html

~Covert_Operations'78~ said...

You shouldn't wear skirts either cos the marble floors are usually very shiny and everyone can see the reflection of your knickers. Apart from that, unless you're worshipping, it's okay to eat, talk or take photos in a temple.