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Programs : Brochure

  • Locations: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Singapore, Singapore
  • Program Terms: Spring PGS
  • Homepage: Click to visit
  • This program is currently not accepting applications.
Fact Sheet:
Program Description:

Program Snapshot

This course introduces students to the religious worlds of the South Asian diaspora in Malaysia and Singapore, centered upon Hindu, Muslim and Sikh temples and shrines. The course aims to deepen students’ understanding about historical and contemporary South Asian religious worlds in port cities such as Singapore, Melaka and Penang through introducing them to the academic literature on South Asian Sufis, gods, temples and shrines in these cities, and alternatively, through visits to shrines and temples in Malaysia and Singapore. These visits will equip students with a deeper understanding of the religious practices, traditions and rituals of the historical and contemporary South Asian diaspora.

Travel to Singapore and Malaysia March 2 - 11, 2018

During the travel component of the course, students will be familiarized with the temples and shrines of Melaka, Penang and Singapore, most of which can be traced to the settlement of South Asians from Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh and Punjab in the 19th century. The trip will commence in Singapore wherein students will spend 4 days. Thereon, they will proceed to Malaysia for 5 days (2 days in Melaka, 1 day in Kuala Lumpur and 2 days in Penang). Throughout this period, students will be introduced to, on the one hand, temples devoted to Saiva gods and shrines dedicated to saints who undertook voluntary or involuntary journeys to Southeast Asian cities. On the other hand, the active religious worlds of South Asian devotional cults in Southeast Asia, and a variety of religious traditions, festivals, performances and rituals from Sufi musical sessions to Saiva ecstatic trances. Throughout this period, students will be strongly encouraged to consider ways in which a study of the religious worlds of the South Asian diaspora can benefit from an intense engagement with the ‘lived’ practices of Hinduism, Islam and Sikhism in the shrines and temples of Singapore, Melaka and Penang and Bangkok. Moreover, students will be strongly encouraged to consider, in the course of their travels through the Straits of Melaka, how the development of religious institutions and cultures was associated with economic and political developments in the 19th century Malay Peninsula. 

A preliminary syllabus can be found here: Sufis and Gods Syllabus.pdf


Date Activities Location
Friday, March 2 Depart Philadelphia for Singapore Philadelphia, PA
Sunday, March 4 Arrive in Singapore; Indian Heritage Centre; Walking tour of Little India; Evening devotional music Singapore
Monday, March 5 Walking tour of of Keramats and Shrines Singapore
Tuesday, March 6 Walking tour of Muneeswaran Shrines; Interaction with NUS South Asian Studies faculty Singapore
Wednesday, March 7 Leave for Melaka; "Chetti" lunch in Melaka; Pulau Besar evening trip; Night walking tour of temples and mosques Melaka
Thursday, March 8 Visit Kampung Chitti; Leave for Kuala Lampur; Evening visit to Batu Caves Kuala Lampur
Friday, March 9 Leave for Georgetown Penang; Visit to Kampung Kling mosque and Nagore Dargah Penang
Saturday, March 10 Morning visit to Jalan Baru Temple; Afternoon visit to Dato Koyah, Khoo Kongsi, and Kek Lok Si; Return to Singapore Penang
Sunday, March 11 Depart Singapore for US Singapore

Travel and Accommodation

Students will be required to travel on a group flight out of Philadelphia.
Accommodations include hotels (double occupancy).

Cost and Finances

Penn Global Seminars are funded by a generous donation from the Hasan and Arifa Ahmad Fund, as well as contributions from Penn's Global Engagement Fund. All in-country logistical costs, including accommodations, transportation, entrance fees, translation services, and group meals, are covered by Penn Global. Students do not pay a program fee to participate in a Global Seminar.

Students will be responsible for the cost of the round-trip flight to the program site. For this course, students will be required to travel with a group flight. Students are also responsible for personal meals, visa fees, and vaccinations, where applicable.

Please click here for a budget sheet for this program: Budget Sheet - Sufis and Gods (PGS 014).pdf

A $250 deposit is assessed after a student commits to the program and is refunded upon receiving the student's confirmed flight itinerary. Students will be notified before the deposit is charged.

Financial Aid

Students who receive financial aid may be eligible for an adjustment to their aid to cover the out-of-pocket costs of the program. Penn Abroad will share a budget sheet with Student Financial Services so that adjustments to the aid package can be determined.

All costs related to the on-campus component of the program are the responsibility of the student and are not figured into the program budget for SFS.

Next Steps

The application for this program closes October 6, 2017. Please apply using the "Apply Now" button located at the top right section of this brochure. 

Applications are reviewed by a committee which includes the course instructor and Penn Abroad staff. Strong applicants will be invited for an in-person interview. 

Students will be notified of their decision on October 25, 2017 and will be given two weeks to commit to the program.

Please direct application questions to Laurie Jensen, Penn Global Seminars Manager, at

This program is currently not accepting applications.