A lengthy reverent chant is humming from outside my hostel room’s window as I am barely awaken from sleep. Curiously looking out below from the balcony outside my room on the second floor, I can see that the continuing chant is coming from the Sri Payyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple right across the street from where I stay in Malacca. Apparently, it is the Hindus devotedly chanting their morning prayer. I feel at ease just listening to the vibration of it. Although looks small and a little congested, historically the temple is known as the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia. It was built in 1781 on a land donated by Kapitan Thaivanayagam Chitty, a head administrator to Malacca’s local community at that time. The temple literally got its name from one of Hindu’s Gods, Lord Vinayagar (also known as Ganesha), an elephant-headed god with four arms who is widely recognized to the Hindus as the deva of intellect and wisdom.
With rain drizzles dampening the old city streets, time is obviously ticking slower on this part of the world. Opening their kitchen late at 9 in the morning, I had my toasts and omelet breakfast at Cheng Ho Restaurant, a small restaurant with the same name (and the same owner) as the hostel where I spend the night. After my last sip of tea, I take a stroll down the Tukang Emas Street up to Tokong Street where the Kampung Kling is located. Tukang Emas Street, Tukang Besi Street and Tokong Street. The three seemingly idyllic narrow streets are those makes up a longer area renowned as Harmony Street. Accordance with its name, the streets are called Harmony Street because it portrays a sense of harmony among the major religions and races of the people inhabiting Malacca since centuries ago. There are two other places of worship that are located closely with each other down the street: The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple and The Kampung Kling Mosque at the corner of Hang Lekiu Street.
Covering an area of 4,600 m2, The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is beautifully and intricately decorated in vibrant red and gold colors. With its magnificent main gate and spacious main prayer hall dedicated to the Taoist goddess of mercy, Kuan Yin, this oldest functioning temple in Malaysia has been serving as the main place of worshipping for the Hokkien community residing around Malacca. Whilst a few meters from the temple stands The Kampung Kling Mosque which is unsurprisingly also one of the oldest mosques ever erected in Malaysia. Serving as the main worshipping place for the Kampung Kling’s people—mostly South Indians or Tamil descendants—who inhabit the western part of Malacca River, the architecture of this mosque reflects the cultural assimilation that has long been Malacca’s trademark as one of the most important trading port in South East Asia.
Substituting a usual dome overarching the main prayer hall, a triple-tiered green roof with pyramidal upper roof is constructed to form the main part of the mosque. Its Muezzin minaret is similar with ones you can still find on a Chinese Pagoda, whilst inside the mosque I can also find Chinese ceramic tiles decorating the roof, the floor as well as the lower wall of the mosque. Its sculptural finials of the roof are also attributed a little bit to the oriental influence. In the afternoon, the Muezzin’s call of Adhan is blaring from the Kampung Kling Mosque reminding the Muslims to do their Zuhur midday prayer. Hearing the Adhan sound, a Makcik selling key chains and souvenirs at a nearby shop turns off her radio from playing Malay pop music until the Adhan calling is over. None of the people around the mosque seem to be bothered by the Adhan even though the mosque is surrounded by many tiny Chinese art shops and food stalls. Just the way the hostel occupants and I remain undisturbed by the Hindus Morning Prayer chant. Here, the religions and cultures have been co-existed side by side for centuries. This is what makes Malacca so unique in many visitors’ eyes as well as mine. A pair of doves hovers over my head then both perch on the edge of the pond looking for fresh water to quench their thirst. Peaceful positive vibes is oozing in the air as I leave the idyllic Harmony Street down to the Dutch Square. Recalling what an Encik (old Chinese woman) said to me, “we don’t ask each other about one’s race and religion. But what we do always ask each other is ‘have you eaten?’” Not only preserving their historical sites, multi cultures and religions, Malacca most vitally also preserves its people to keep their lives eternally beating in harmony alongside The Malacca River.* Location:Photo credits: sbragnar.com; wikimedia.org; anysomewhere.com Follow us on Twitter, join us on Google Plus & like us on Facebook.