Glorious Himalaya

Kumari – The Living Goddess

The word Kumari literally means virgin in Nepali. Kumari is the only living Goddess in the world worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal. The Living Goddesses are young pre-pubescent girls that are considered to be incarnations of the Hindu goddess of power, Kali and Goddess Taleju. For over 300 years now, it is believed that the spirit of the goddess Taleju has been residing in a succession of pre-pubescent virgin girls in this way, and the future of the country has balanced precariously on their pleasure. With a frown they have held back the rains; a single tear from their eye has resulted in floods. An ancient ruler of Nepal even said to have died after the reigning Kumari fell asleep during an audience with him.Young Buddhist girls from, Kathmandu?s Newar community, Shakya or Bajracharya are chosen as ?living goddesses?. Normally it is a privilege to have your daughter contest in this selection process.she should possess 32 lachchins (characteristics). She must have a sense of courage and should not fear a masked man or an animal sacrifice and she must never have lost a drop of blood. During the eighth day of Dashain, called Kal-ratri, the selection process of Kumari begins. Kumari is left in a room with 108 decapitated buffalos laid out in a sea of blood with men wearing horrid masks dancing among them. This is to test the fearlessness of the girl. If the child gets scared and cries, she will be disqualified and the next girl has to go through the process until they find a girl who can smile in that surrounding and enjoy the dance of the masks men. Every September, during the Indra Jatra festival, the living goddess in all her bejeweled splendor is borne in a palanquin in a religious procession through parts of Kathmandu. It is a grand festival attended by people in the thousands, who come to see the living goddess and seek her blessings. In keeping with an old tradition, the Kumari also used to bless the King but now she blesses the president and prime minister of the country.

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