Catholics who visited a Hindu temple as part of an interreligious dialogue activity said that the visit gave them a very comprehensive understanding of Hinduism.
“The experience was very educational... it has cleared many of the confusions and assumptions that I have of Hinduism,” said Ms Marlinda Grace Darmali, 42, a parishioner of the Church of St Teresa.
She was one of 15 participants who visited the Sri Vairavimada Kaliamman Temple at Toa Payoh on Aug 22.
The visit was organised by the Archdiocesan Catholic Council for Interreligious Dialogue (ACCIRD) for Catholics to learn more about other religions in Singapore.
Mr Satish s/o Appoo, chairperson of the temple, explained various topics such as Hinduism’s origins, forms of worship, and its inter-faith perspectives.
The presentation took place in a conference room in the temple.
Mr Satish said a person can find God if he or she follows any of the faiths with sincere devotion. He added that all religions work for the good of humankind.
Spiritual practices of the Hindu faith include yoga and its various forms, which in most cases are conducted by a spiritual teacher also known as a guru, he explained.
At the end of the presentation, the Catholic participants asked some questions.
One asked if there was a leader or someone similar to the pope, for Hindus.
Mr Satish replied that though there are many temples in India that Hindus worship in, “there is no one head”.
Another question posed by a participant was, “Do priests in the temple follow celibacy?” and to the surprise of a few participants, Mr Satish replied, “No, most priests need to be actually married to do certain things in the temple.”
Mr Keith Neubronner, 26, a parishioner from the Church of St Ignatius, who had previously visited a Sikh temple and Jewish synagogue under the ACCIRD, said that the Hindu temple visit “was by far the most in depth”.
“I was impressed by the chairperson’s knowledge, and this idea of not requiring one way of salvation or conversion to be saved was quite unusual and it’s something I’ll remember,” he added.
The ACCIRD Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/archCCIDsingapore
By Jared Ng