A mosque and a Hindu temple located a few metres from each other in Kampung Baru, the oldest Malay residential area in downtown Kuala Lumpur, are making 'religious harmony' more than just a catch phrase, a media report said on Monday.
Situated at Lorong Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, the two shrines have had devotees of their religious faiths worshipping without any communal problems for the last four decades.
While the mosque began as a surau in the 1950s, the temple started off as a shrine in a simple wooden structure in 1968. It was built by Kannan alias Veerapan, in thanksgiving to goddess Kaliamman for healing V Rajeswary, his then 16-year-old daughter, The New Straits Times reported.
Rajeswary had been falling ill often and could not be treated, but recovered after going into a trance on several occasions. The shrine evolved into a temple with devotees comprising staff of the nearby hospital and occupants of the railway quarters in Sentul.
Rajeswary's husband, 68-year-old V Narayanasamy, who runs the temple, told the New Straits Times that the temple and mosque have been co-existing without any problems.
"Cooperation, freedom and mutual respect have been shown by Hindus and Muslims alike. We have lived in harmony and even helped each other during festivals," he said.
A senior Kuala Lumpur Hospital Mosque official, who declined to be identified, said only zinc sheets separated the two structures.
"What began as a surau in the late 1950s has flourished together with the temple over the years. Prayers at the temple do not bother us when we conduct our prayers. We have made some adjustments to accommodate the temple's wishes," he said.
He said there were "one or two" difficult moments, such as during the May 13, 1969 riots, when a flag of Barisan Nasional was set on fire and thrown at the main altar of the temple. The wooden structure was razed but the shrine survived the fire.
In 1979, floods in the city destroyed both structures.
P Vasudevan, 53, who was born in Kampung Baru and worships at the temple, said the religious institutions are a unique testament to unity in diversity.