Charles and Camilla honoured with gifts on visit to Hindu temple
The royals visited places of worship belonging to the Christian, Muslim, Chinese and Hindu communities in the Penang capital George Town.
The Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall have experienced four religions in one day – and were honoured with luxurious silk shawls and garlands of sandalwood.
Charles and Camilla visited places of worship belonging to the Christian, Muslim, Chinese and Hindu communities in the Penang capital George Town as they celebrated the Malaysian city’s diverse residents.
Strolling down what is colloquially known as the Street of Harmony, the royal couple walked from a mosque to the temples as backpackers and shop keepers stopped to capture the unannounced visit on their smartphones.
Drummers and other musicians led the way as they walked to the Sri Mahamariamman Hindu temple, completed in 1833, that was ornately decorated with colourful statues that were mirrored by beautiful carvings of gods inside.
Following tradition, Charles and Camilla removed their shoes and were given a brief tour of the place of worship before shimmering gold-coloured shawls were placed around their shoulders and matching garlands draped around their necks.
Preveena Balakrishnan, a local historian and Hindu, said: “We wanted to have a fragrant garland so we chose sandalwood – flower garlands will fade and die.
“The silk shawls are given to kings and queens and we believe silk has the power to attract positive vibes.”
When the royal couple visited the Kapitan Keling Mosque, they again removed their shoes for a brief tour of the building and the Duchess covered her head with a scarf as a mark of respect.
The historic building stands on the site of a previous mosque and as they entered the place of worship, waiting to greet the royal couple was its oldest surviving former imam, Abdullah Bukhari, aged 84.
Charles and Camilla wandered past the mosque’s columns to its central dome and looked up at the architecture.
On the way out, Charles told the elderly Imam: “I was saying I’ve been having Arabic lessons but I’m too old to remember.”
At St George’s Church, an early 19th-century structure, the royal couple heard about the history of the building that was looted and ransacked during the Japanese occupation of Penang in the Second World War.
At the Han Jiang Ancestral Temple they were greeted by a dramatic lion dance performance before their brief tour.
George Town is famed for its historic quarter which attracts tourists and backpackers eager to see and learn about the homes, places of worships and culture of the many immigrant communities the 19th century British rulers welcomed to the city.