Day 9 – Storming the temple

Is it possible to gatecrash a Hindu temple? I think I just did.

Sri Kandaswamy Kovil is a huge South Indian style temple in the district of Brickfields. When I turned up unannounced tonight, things became chaotic. Somehow, I got my temples mixed up. I was demanding to see monks. At a Hindu shrine.

Here’s how it happened. Earlier today I phoned a local temple and arranged to photograph Buddhist monks at evening prayer. But I got the wrong address off the Internet. When I arrived at the location, I discovered something completely different. There were Hindus gathered for worship. Not a monk in sight!

Where are the monks I asked? Everyone looked confused. Then reality set in. I was in the wrong place of worship.

But it still looked like a great photo opportunity!

Getting inside was not easy. I called on a passing visitor to help translate. There was a lot of shouting and waving from mystified temple security. Finally, an official allowed me inside. Strict instructions: we don’t know who you are, but stand by the walls and don’t take photos of the central shrine.

All went well for the first ten minutes – despite curious stares from those inside. And fair enough. No one told them I was coming. But my luck wouldn’t last. As I began moving from one wall to the next, a very agitated security guard on the street began shouting through an open window. He had a real temple tantrum.

Photography – and me – were suddenly banned. I got my marching orders.

On the way out, there was no sign of the first official who gave permission. Just the grumpy security guard pointing to a no-photography-inside sign at the entrance to the temple. Luckily, I already had the shots I wanted.

Meanwhile the monks have invited to their place on Saturday.

So many temples. So little time.









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