Address:     295 Konzedan Street
Year built:   1871
Architect:    Unknown

Among the many Hindu temples in Yangon, the Shri Kali Temple is devoted to the goddess Kali (or Kali Ma, as she is also known). The temple was built by Tamil immigrants at a time when the Indian population of Rangoon totalled around 15,000 people, compared to more than 70,000 Burmese and other “indigenous races”, as the census then showed. Only 10 years later, the number of Indians had quadrupled, while the local population remained constant. In the 1870s, then, these droves of new residents required houses of worship for their respective faiths, and in their regional character.

Beams of light illuminate worshippers praying in front of Shri Kali

Traditionally depicted in black and in fearsome poses (four arms, carrying the severed head of a demon in one and usually a sword in another), Kali is the goddess of time, change, power and destruction. Many praise her as the greatest of all deities. Her sculpture, inside the sanctum, is richly decorated with flowers. The temple is busy with worshippers, many of them bowing before Kali. Temple assistants are there to help place offerings and apply the tilaka, the red mark worn on the forehead.

The black idol of Shri Kali can be seen in the inner sanctum

The temple’s colourful exteriors, especially its characteristic tower (gopuram), are recognisable sights. It is richly decorated with sculptures and carvings featuring scenes from Hindu mythology. The power lines above the entrance are usually lined with pigeons, so tread carefully. As in all Hindu temples, footwear must be left outside in the space provided.

Scraps from offerings sold outside the temple attract pigeons