The Tamil Nadu region in India is known for its rich tradition of literature, art, music and dance, of which many have survived. Hinduism played a significant role in shaping the region’s history and the Tamil people developed a complex temple architecture that is uniquely studded with sculptures and inscriptions. Today, the Tamil culture has spread all over the world, even to Thailand due to the Tamil diaspora.
In the 1800s, following India becoming a colony of the British Empire, many Tamils left for Southeast Asia. One group arrived in Bangkok and took up the trade of gemstones or cattle ranching, a legacy of the former that still exists within the Silom area. One community leader, Vaithi Padayatchi, initiated the construction of Bangkok’s first Hindu temple. In 1879, Sri Maha Mariamman Temple, dedicated to its namesake female creator/destroyer goddess, was built on Silom Road. The temple is incredibly detailed and is carved with gods and goddesses. The entrance to the temple is a gopura or tower covered with images of deities colored boldly.
The temple is an anchor for the Tamil and Hindu community. Around the opulent temple, the presence of the Tamil immigrants can still be felt. Indian-owned shops and eateries lie close to the temple. Outside the temple, vendors sell saffron-colored marigold flower garlands and fruits for worshippers to offer to Maha Mariamman. Should you ever be in town in September/October, you can experience the vividness and vibrancy of Navrati festival, during which the image of Sri Maha Mariamman is paraded through the streets.