Located in Sungai Pinang Kecil in Pangkor Island, the Sri Pathira Kali Amman Temple is known as the biggest and the only Hindu temple of any significance in the place. It is also recognized as one of the two Hindu temples in Malaysia that provide entry to the shrine of the Hindu goddess Kali, facing the sea. The entrance of the shrine fronting the sea is something quite uncommon, particularly on Hindu temples. The other temple is situated in Penang Island. Based on Hinduism, Kali, who shares the same image as Amman, is the wife of Lord Shiva. She is also known as the goddess of strength, protecting the people from evil, and her animal symbol is the lion.
The Kali Amman Temple in Pangkor Island, which is lead by the Paribalana Sabha, is a rather simple and austere single-celled shrine facing the sandy beach. It has minimalist architecture, with its towering Shikhara or the steeple of the temple and the temple hall. There are various deity statues inside and other sacred relics. It houses several traditional Indian artworks, architecture and sculpture. The temple head pujari is Venketaraman Sharma, a portly young man who finished his education in England and has done his priestly training in Chennai. The temple is a very important place for the Indian locals to have a place for worship. It is also the center of the annual Thaipusam celebration and the Kaliamman- Kuan Yin Festival where both Chinese and Indian devotees prepare for the celebration by performing their vows, worship and prayers in the temple.
Being a very important part of the Indian community in Pangkor, the Kali Amman Temple’s presence is expected to promote tranquility and harmony in the locality. It has served as a sacred meeting area for the community to unite and rejuvenate their spiritual energies. Kali Amman Temple is a must-visit place in Pangkor, particularly for tourists, as it serves as a museum as well if you want to know more about Indian culture and Hinduism.
Being a tourist, certain conduct should be practiced when visiting the holy temple. Of course, this isn’t only about showing your respect for their presiding deity and the people, but also for you to know by heart a genuine Hindu worship. There are several proper etiquettes you must observe when visiting the temple and one is to dress conservatively. For women, wearing the traditional dresses like Salwar-Khamiz or Saree that covers the whole body is desirable. Men should avoid wearing colorful lungis (Indian sarong) and preferably wear the traditional Dhoti. Another note is to leave your footwear and wash it before entering the hall. The Kali Amman Temple has a descending staircase to the sea where devotees and visitors are required to perform cleansing ‘pujas’ before they can enter the temple hall for worship. The most important way of showing your respect is by following the temple regulations. Whether giving an offering to the priest, standing in a queue or lighting a camphor, these regulations should be observed and don’t try to break the rules. Keep the premises clean and always observe silence inside the hall.