Medan was recognized before for its sheer distinction between the Chinese, Malay, native Batak and Indian groups. Ironically, one of the city’s most important areas, Little India, locally known as Kampung Keiling, has transformed to become a model of racial harmony between the Chinese groups and the once predominant Tamil community. One of the most prominent parts of Kampung Keiling is the Shri Mariamman temple, which is the only Hindu temple of any significance in Medan dedicated to the Hindu goddess Mariamman.
Based on the account of one local elder, Kampung Keiling was originally called Patisah, then changed to Kampung Madras to signify the South Indian origin of the people living in its 10-hectare land. But due to the dark skin of the South Indians, the name keiling, which is a slang word for darker skin, became more popular. The highlight of the Little India is the presence of Shri Mariamman temple, which today has turned one of Medan’s top tourist attractions. What makes this area unique is that during the time when Indonesia was experiencing many communal conflicts, this place has remained a harmonious and peaceful place for its residence despite racial, religious and economic diversity. [Read more…]