The worshippers touch her foot and bow in front of her with utmost faith that she holds the energy and power of Hindu Goddess Durga and Taleju.
There are many religions that millions of people in the world follow, and so they have their deity they look up to, bow, join hands, and pray in front of. We visit the homes of our own Gods and stand in front of the statue that we strongly believe holds the energy of the Lord and that they are listening and looking over us.
But one culture in Nepal follows a tradition where the devotees visit the home of a living Goddess and worship her. Yes! A living Goddess who looks into your eyes, actually hears what you wish for, and blesses you with her hand. The worshippers touch her foot and bows in front of her with utmost faith that she holds the energy and power of Hindu Goddess Durga and Taleju. She is called Kumari.
From a Common Child to Living Goddess
A female child born to the Shakya caste of the Nepalese Newari Buddhist community can only reign the throne of Living Goddess. However, not all girls who fall under this category get selected as a Kumari. She must be a young child, in her prepubescent, must be in excellent health, should never have shed blood or been affected by any disease, must not have any scar, and not yet lost any teeth. Only after passing these perfections then they proceed to ‘Battis Lakshana’, the thirty-two perfections. Most of these perfections are related to outer beauty like; a neck like a conch shell, eyelashes like a cow, thighs like a deer, voice soft and clear, chest like a lion, and much more.
Kumari must be fearless. Her horoscope is also examined to ensure various other factors. After announcing who is ready to reign the throne, she is first made to undergo various secret tantric rituals, and hence she is purified from her past experiences. Then she is dressed in red and made up as a Kumari, then walks to the Kumari Ghar(house) where she is to reside during her divinity.
Girls as young as 5 years old are also chosen as Kumari. And they are released from the throne once they start their menstruation period. While living the life of a Living Goddess, Kumari is looked up to, worshiped by every commoner. She comes out of her home only during the special festival occasion. The reign of Kumari is glorious than that of royals. It holds spiritual, religious, cultural, traditional, and even royal beliefs.
History of Kumari
One myth (out of various other) recites that Goddess Durga used to visit the king of the Malla Dynasty every night. And once, when the king tried to advance sexually, the Goddess vanished. Until one day, she appeared in his dream and said that she will enter the soul of a child from the Shakya community, and then he can worship her. Henceforth the reign of Living Goddess started.
The Royal Kumari
The city of Bhaktapur and Patan have their own Kumari, whereas the Living Goddess of Kathmandu is considered to be the Royal Kumari. She lives in the center of the city in Kumari Ghar. The Kumaris are restricted from various activities to maintain their purity. They cannot go outside and play, or go to school like any other common child. She has to perform her ritual every day and should always be dressed in her attire.
From outside the glorious look of Kumari might catch our eyes but behind the life is limited to various strict rules that are made to protect the power of the divine.