The ethnic names of places near Bugis–Little India, the Muslim district–reflect historical patterns of settlement in Singapore. But with the country’s powerhouse economic growth and its policy of achieving diversity in every area, there are no longer strong concentrations of ethnic folk in the area. Nevertheless, significant structures of worship remain. And are well attended.
On the pedestrian Waterloo Street is a traditional Chinese Buddhist temple, the Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho temple, founded in 1884 at this location and enlarged a century later to accommodate the throngs of visitors who come there to practice divination with joss sticks. Believed to bring good luck to its visitors, the temple is enormously popular.
Right next door stands the Sri Krishnan Hindu temple, dedicated to Lord Krishna (an incarnation of the god Vishnu) and adorned with exuberant technicolor statuary.
Nearby, as it turns out, are also Christian churches and a Jewish synagogue, which (alas) I didn’t see. Singapore is truly an ecumenical country, tolerant of and fostering all religions.
The Masjid Abdul Gaffoor is a handsome mosque located in the Little India area.
Construction began on this mosque in 1907. It is an historic landmark and was extensively renovated in 2003. The juxtaposition of this handsome building, with its stars-and-crescent-moon motif and its cinquefoil windows, with the rather garish modern tower in the distance is–for better or worse–a typical tableau in Singapore.
An even more significant mosque, Masjid Sultan, with its splendid golden dome, dominates the Muslim district.
There are numerous other houses of worship throughout Singapore, where people of all ethnicities and believes mingle peaceably.