Living Goddess in Nepal, Kumari

A 10-YEAR-OLD girl, worshiped as a living goddess in Nepal has had her title reinstated after defying tradition and visiting the US. Temple authorities at her home town in Bhaktapur were quoted as saying that the visit had tainted her purity, and that they were beginning the search for a successor.

But yesterday they said she would not be stripped of her title because she was willing to undergo a “cleansing” ceremony to remove any sins. Sajani Shakya was one of the three most-revered Kumaris, who are honored by Hindus and Buddhists alike.

Human rights activists believe that the tradition constitutes child abuse.

I will post a detailed review of Kumari tradition in coming days.

Update on March 3, 2008

Living Goddess Kumari, Sajani Shakya, Retired

Last year, Sajani made international headlines after she visited the United States to promote a film by British company about the ancient practice. Some religious authorities criticised the trip, saying it was against tradition. They even threatened to strip her of the title, but the threat was later withdrawn.

In a latest news, The 11-year-old Sajani Shakya was revered for nine years as the Kumari of the ancient temple-town of Bhaktapur. Kumaris traditionally retire when they reach the age menstruation.

Kumari Tradition in Nepal

Kumari is some times called a Living Goddess in Nepal. It is a tradition of worshipping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in Hindu religious traditions. The word Kumari is derived from the Sanskrit Kaumarya, meaning “princess”.

The pre-pubescent girl os selected from the Shakya caste or Bajracharya clan of the Nepalese Newari community. The selected Kumari is revered and worshiped by Hindus and Buddhists in Kathmandu valley. There are several Kumaris in Nepal. The best known Kumari is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu who lives in the Kumari Ghar, located at a palace in the center of the city.

The selection of kumari is a very rigorous process. As of 2010, the Royal Kumari was Matina Shakya, aged four, installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy. Unika Bajracharya, selected in April 2014 as the Kumari of Patan, is the second most important living goddess in Nepal.

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