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The majority of us who believe in goddesses know that they are a
part of history, which means they are not living anymore. But wait,
Nepal has something different in store, a living goddess, yes
The majority of us who believe in goddesses know that they are a part of history, which means they are not living anymore. But wait, Nepal has something different in store, a living goddess, yes she is a child chosen to become the kumari of Nepal. Currently, Yunika is the kumari of Nepal, as a part of the ancient tradition.
The girl is drawn from the Newar community; the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley, for these people, planets, karma and an array of Gods play a vital role in daily life.
She lives with her parents, who have left their jobs to become caretakers. The kumari has certain rules and regulations that she has to follow, for example, she is not allowed to leave her residence except for festivals and her feet are never suppose to touch the ground, even in her own house, she is carried around everywhere. She has to wear only red and only particular type of makeup has to be done on her, her mother has to obviously learn it for daily use. Anything that she demands is fulfilled and since she cannot go out and play, her friends sometimes come within to play with her; a sight of her is considered to be lucky by many.
The word kumari means unmarried girl or virgin, she is worshiped by the local Hindus and Buddhists alike. A young girl between 2-4 years old is chosen, but she must meet some crazy specific standards before being chosen as the goddess. First of all, her astrological chart must be considered favorable to the King of Nepal; the girl is then tested for 32 particular aspects. Some including, eyelashes like a cow, thighs like a deer, and a voice as clear as a duck. She is also secretly administered via some tests to check her fearlessness and serenity. The chosen girl is known as the incarnation of Goddess Durga.
Sounds perfect to hear the life of this girl right? But yes there is a twist, the moment she hits puberty, she is taken off the position and forced to live a normal life. This becomes a little hard for her because for so many years she has been living a different and protected life and now she has to begin all over again. Along with this, they have to face another challenge- an old Nepali superstition says that men who marry ex kumaris are destined to die young. But its just a rumor. Even though some activists have questioned this and called it child labor, the Supreme Court of Nepal overruled a petition to end the practice, citing it as a cultural value.
The kumaris also agree that living this life has many advantages, like lifelong prestige and pension from the Nepali government. Also that it is a great honor to be a part of this tradition, it is like fulfilling a sacred duty. Hence, it has its pros and cons. The best time to visit this phenomenon is during the time from August to September when the kumari leaves her residence to be a part of the Indra Jatra, where she is carried on her gold palanquin and toured around, where people come to seek her blessings. Next time in Nepal, witness this unusual practice.