Tue, 18 Jun, 2024

Kumari, the living goddess

By Sneha Parajuli

Gods and goddess are regarded as a very important thing in a religious country like Nepal. The unique among all of them is the living goddess Kumari Devi, a deified young girl. According to Wikipedia, “The custom of worshipping a pre-pubescent girl, who is not a born goddess, as the source of supreme power is an old Hindu-Buddhist tradition called Kumari Jatra”. This ritual of worshipping Kumari still continues to this day in Nepal. Living Goddess Kumari attends the Changu Narayan festival in Kathmandu According to the traditions of Vajrayana clique of Mahayana Buddhism, the living goddess is a girl in the age-group of 4-7 years, who belongs to the Sakya community, and an apt horoscope is selected on the basis of her 32 traits of exactness, including color of eyes, voice quality and even the shape of their teeth. She is then taken to meet the deities in a dark room, where startling tantrik ceremonies are performed. After those rituals, the spirit of goddess is said to enter her body. She is then decorated with all kinds of clothes and jewelries and is taken to a place called Kumari Ghar at Hanuman Dhoka palace square in Kathmandu. The house is beautifully decorated where the living goddess lives and performs her daily rituals. With her first menstruation, the kumara godhood comes to an end as it is believed that after reaching puberty, kumara turns back into human. Every September, on the Indra Jatra festival, the living goddess can be worshipped by  people. It is a majestic festival attended by people in thousands, who come to visit the living goddess and seek her blessings. It is said that, many years ago Mallas reigned at the Kathmandu Valley. The goddess they prayed to was Taleju Bhawani. The goddess was so pleased with King Jay Prakash Malla that she would come to his palace and played dice with him. One day when they were playing dice, the king kept on staring at the goddess because of which she was upset and disappeared all of a sudden. Later, when she was gone, the king realised his mistake and felt ashamed. The goddess came to meet the king in his dreams and said that the king failed to respect the dignity of a woman. So he wouldn’t be able to see her anymore but she would come to see him later as a small girl. As time passed, the king met a small girl near swayambhu but he didn’t recognize her. After this incident, when the king returned back to his palace, he remembered what goddess Taleju Bhawani had told him. The next day, the king found out about the girl and apologized about his deeds; the girl forgave him and blessed him. The king built a beautiful house for the Kumari goddess to live there in order to honor her. From that day onwards, the procession of the Kumari has been held on the day of Indra Jatra.