THE opening of the Indian Heritage Centre, which pays homage to the community’s contributions to the development of Johor Baru, is the culmination of an almost decade-long dream.
In revealing this, centre chairman K. Kiruppalani said its construction and opening was another historic milestone for the Indian community in Johor.
The two-storey building sits within the 112-year-old Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam temple grounds, which is located along Jalan Ungku Puan in the heart of the state capital.
“It has been a vision of mine for nine years to have a centre which highlights the rich cultural Indian community to the people. Now my dream is accomplished.
“Construction started in 2018 but it took us five years to complete due to Covid-19 pandemic,” he said.
He added that the centre was the first of its kind in Malaysia to be fully managed by a temple.
The centre houses Indian artefacts and a herbal garden where the plants are used in Hindu rituals.
“I am very proud that the temple was able to raise RM1.5mil through donations. It was not easy but we successfully did it to build this centre,” said Kiruppalani.
“By having this centre, we will be able to educate local Indian youths as well as tourists on how the community was able to play a key role in building Johor Baru up from a traditional fishing village to what it is now through education, economic and political contributions.”
He said the centre would be instrumental in preserving Indian culture and safeguarding the multiracial identity of Malaysia.
It was previously reported that more than 100 artefacts would be displayed in the centre depicting the history of the Indian community in Malaysia.
The Indian Heritage Centre’s themed galleries highlight the varied histories of all groups within the Indian community of Johor and their strong ties to the Indian diaspora around the world.
This is in keeping with the centre’s mission to serve as a focal point for those interested in the history of the Indian people.
Arulmigu Rajamariamman Devasthanam temple chairman V. Raja Selan said having the centre within the grounds of the temple would strengthen its role in the community.
“The Arulmigu Rajamariam-man Devasthanam temple, which is the oldest Hindu temple in Johor, has been more than a place of worship for the Indian community for 112 years.
“It has been a centre for the Indian community where we provide financial assistance to Indian students from B40 families, through our education fund.
“There is also a registrar of marriage, a wedding hall inside the temple as well as other community-based projects to help the Indians here,” he added.
Meanwhile, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Onn Hafiz Ghazi, who was guest of honour at the opening, said the centre would help attract more tourists to the area.
“In fact, this area is unique as not only do we have a Hindu temple but also a mosque, a church, Johor Ancient Temple and a gurdwara all within walking distance.
“This showcases the multiracial community that we have here and a legacy from our forefathers that should not be taken away from us but must continue to be nurtured,” he added.
Onn Hafiz, who is Machap assemblyman, said unity was important for the government as it aimed to make Johor a developed state by 2030.
“That is our big vision for Johor and the state government, and it can be achieved if everyone unites,” he said.
He added that RM1mil would be allocated to the temple.
The centre is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am to 4pm, with entrance free for now.