Nepal looks for new "living goddess"
It is a centuries-old tradition for Nepal to have a young girl serve as the Kumari, the virgin "living goddess", and the search for a candidate to replace the current Kumari has already begun. Religious authorities are searching for a girl as young as 3-4 years old.
"If we don't change her now, we'll have to wait until next year which could be late," said Deepak Bahadur Pandey, a senior official of the state-run Trust Corporation that oversees the country's cultural matters.
Why would it be "late"? Well, it is crucial to find a replacement before the current Kumari starts to menstrate, because it would be considered inauspicious if the girl starts menstrauting while serving as Kumari.
Under the Kumari tradition, a girl selected from a Buddhist Newar family goes through a rigorous cultural process and becomes the "living goddess."
She is considered by many as an incarnation of the powerful deity Kali and is revered until she menstruates, after which she must return to the family and a new one is chosen.
Pandey said the keepers in Kathmandu's elaborately carved wooden temple where the "goddess" lives, have already started the secret selection process.
The Kumari must be "perfect" in all aspects. She is often dressed in red and gold and carried in a wooden chariot pulled by men during Hindu and Buddist festivals.
The "Kumari" must have perfect eyes, teeth, hair and must not have even a small scratch to her skin.
Traditionally it was believed that the girl's horoscope should be in harmony with that of the king of Nepal. It is not clear how this formality will be completed now that Nepal has abolished the monarchy.
Many people believe that the Kumari is the Goddess as stated below. Nepali Hindus and Buddhists also consider the "living goddess" as an embodiment of Taleju Bhavani (the goddess of strength).
"I believe she is the goddess," said 50-year-old Saili Tamang, selling the present Kumari's pictures outside the temple. "Otherwise why would people respect her ?"
The girl serving as Kumari gets state allowances and is pretty well looked after. The tradition supporters say that the parents can decide whether they want their daughter to serve as Kumari or not. However, critics claim that the child is denied a normal life and the practice violates fundamental human rights.
Most Recommended Comment
petersham, New South Wales, Australia