The Sri Mariamman Temple was founded in 1827 by Naraina Pillai, eight years after the British East India Company established a trading settlement in Singapore.
Pillai was a government clerk from Penang who arrived in Singapore with Stamford Raffles on his second visit to the island in May 1819. He went on to set up the island's first construction company. He also entered the textile trade. Pillai rapidly established himself in business and was identified as a leader of the Indian community.