The history of the Temple began more than 150 years ago - in the 1850s - with the discovery of a statue of Lord Vinayagar by the side of a pond. A Senpaga tree, Senpaga in Tamil, stood on the bank of the pond and gave the identifying element to the Sri Senpaga Vinayagar Temple. The word Sri is a respectful prefix. A Ceylon Tamil, Mr Ethirnayagam Pillai pioneered the building of the first structure, a modest shelter with an attap roof with the help of Indian workers. This humble abode under the Chempaka tree became the temple of Sri Senpaga Vinayagar.
APPOINTMENT OF PRIEST
In 1909, the Ceylon Tamils who had grown in number to about 300 families, formed the Singapore Ceylon Tamils Association (SCTA). In 1913, a Management Committee of four persons was formed to renovate the premises for the ever growing number of devotees. In 1923, the SCTA assisted the Temple by purchasing the land on which the Temple stands today in 1923. A bigger Temple subsequently emerged with a priest (a pandaram) to initiate prayers (poojas) and other religious ceremonies.
In 1923, the SCTA became the official keeper and manager of this autonomous Temple. From that year onwards, the Temple Committee was elected from among the SCTA members. In the following year, the Committee decided to upgrade the Temple. Under the Chairmanship of Mr S Muthukumaru, the plans were finalized in 1926 and a sculptor was commissioned. The construction of the concrete building was completed in 1929.
FIRST CONSECRATION CEREMONY
(Maha Kumbhabishegam), 1930 Generous donations from the Chairman; many well-placed community leaders and devotees permitted the addition of several new shrines within the precincts of the Temple. They included shrines for Lord Shiva, Goddess Ambal, and Lords Subramaniam, Vairavar and Nageswarar. On 3 February, 1930 a major Consecration (Maha Kumbhabishegam) of the Temple was held for the first time.
AFTER 2ND WORLD WAR
During the Second World War, a bomb damaged the Temple. Restoration began in 1949 under the Chairmanship of Dr. P. Thillainathan and six years later on 7 July, 1955, devotees witnessed another Consecration Ceremony. Periodic upgrading of the Temple resulted in the addition of new halls, kitchens, classrooms, a perimeter wall, a wedding dias, and a library. On 8 November, 1989, the then Senior Minister, Mr S Rajaratnam declared open the three storey extension with an air-conditioned wedding and dining hall.
THE NEW TEMPLE
Chunks of concrete began falling from the ceiling of the Temple and cracks appeared in its walls. These occurrences prompted the SCTA to act. At its Annual General Meeting in 1998, a resolution was passed to appoint Dr R Theyvendran, PBM as the Project Chairman for the rebuilding of the Temple. Despite his limited expertise in this field, he accepted the challenge and brought to bear his entrepreneurial skills. He was ably assisted by Mr S M Vasagar, ex-Chairman and then Advisor; Mr S Moganaruban, PBM, Chairman of the Temple Management Committee, its dedicated members and a legion of well-wishers.