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Kumari Devi of Nepal: Custom of worshipping Young girl as Living Goddess in Hindu-Buddhist Tradition

The secretive world of the Kumari has created many lores of its own including tales involving demons and the heads of dead animals

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  • The child is believed to be the source of ‘Shakti’ or supreme power that envelopes the entire creation
  • She is believed to be the incarnation of the fearsome Hindu Goddess Durga
  • The kings Of Nepal would seek the Kumari’s blessing before the initiation of any scheme

The old Hindu-Buddhist tradition of worshiping a pre-pubescent girl as a manifestation of the Goddess Durga still continues on till today in the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal. The girl, who is not a born goddess is selected after many trials. She is believed to be the source of ‘Shakti’ or supreme power that envelopes the entire creation and sustains all the beings with her love and warmth.

There is an elaborate process to determine the Kumari, the Living Goddess who is entitled to sit on the pedestal for worship. Girls in the age-group of 4-7 years who belong to the Sakya community are screened by looking at their horoscopes and are selected on the basis of the 32 attributes that depict perfection, like a body like a banyan tree, eyelashes like a cow, thighs like a deer, chest like a lion and a voice as soft and clear as duck’s, mentioned Subhamoy Das, an Hinduism expert to hinduism.about.com.

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After all the ceremonies, the spirit of the goddess is believed to have entered into her body. After wearing the clothing and jewellery of her predecessor, she becomes the Kumari Devi, the living goddess who is worshipped on all religious occasions. She begins her life as the Goddess in her new sacred home called Kumari Ghar, at Kathmandu’s Hanumandhoka palace square.

Kumari Shobha Bhajracharya plays her sarod Image Source: BBC
Kumari Shobha Bhajracharya plays her sarod Image Source: BBC

Kumaris are drawn from the original inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley. Planets, karma and an array of gods play an important role in the daily life of these people. It can be said that they are Buddhists who have adopted the Hindu caste system.

According to Subhamoy, Kumaris are believed to be the incarnation of the fearsome Hindu goddess Durga, there are several myths supporting this belief. One such is that Trailokya Malla, the king of the Malla dynasty was visited by the Goddess every night until the day he made sexual advances which made the goddess vanishes in fury. The king in regret worshipped and pleaded for her return .The goddess later appears to the king in a dream asking him to find a child from the Shakya caste. The girl is asked to be worshipped as the Goddess would have entered into her soul. The king does as he was asked and finds the world’s only Living Goddess, starting a tradition that continues on for centuries.

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The secretive world of the Kumari has created many lives of its own including tales involving demons and the heads of dead animals.

The kings Of Nepal would seek the Kumari’s blessing before the initiation of any scheme. After Nepal’s monarchy was abolished in 2008, the president is said to have bowed before her.

The title of Kumari is not given to one particular person for eternity, mentioned Das. She ceases to be the goddess with her first menstruation because it is believed that on reaching puberty the Kumari turns human. So till she reaches the age of 16, she is worshipped by all even though it is only for a few hours during festival times. For all the days of the festivals, a name is chosen which is determined by her age as instructed in the Tantric Hindu texts.

A careful life has to be led by the Kumaris as even a little bad luck can instantly turn them back into mortals. A minor cut or bleeding can make her unfit for worship and a new goddess is immediately searched and. After her life as a mortal begins, she leads a normal life and is allowed to marry despite many superstitions that say that men who marry Kumaris die a premature death.

– prepared by Ajay Krishna of NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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  • Utkarsh roy

    Hi I wanted to know that superstition regarding marriage of kumari is applicable only to royal Kumari or all other Kumaris of Nepal.

  • vedika kakar

    This seems to be prerty interesting!!

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Hindus In Delhi Push For A Temple On The Ruins Of a Mosque

The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

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Supporters of Vishwa Hindu Parishad gather during a rally in New Delhi, Dec. 9, 2018. The group gathered thousands of supporters to demand the construction of a Hindu temple on a site where a mosque was attacked, demolished in 1992. VOA

Tens of thousands of hardline Hindu protesters marched in New Delhi on Sunday, calling for a grand temple to be built on the ruins of a destroyed mosque in a flashpoint Indian city.

Trident-waving devotees clad in saffron filled a huge parade ground in the Indian capital under tight security, where speakers warned Prime Minister Narendra Modi they would not let up until the temple was sanctioned.

Some of Modi’s supporters feel the Hindu nationalist leader has not done enough to raise a shrine at a site in Ayodhya, a city believed by many to be the birthplace of the deity Ram.

The site was home to a medieval mosque for 460 years until Hindu zealots tore it down in 1992, kicking off riots across India that left thousands dead, most of them Muslims.

Its future has been tied up in courts for decades but some hardliners want Modi, who is seeking reelection in 2019, to push parliament to guarantee the temple by law.

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“The gathering here is telling you that Hindus won’t sit back until the temple is built, and our wishes are respected,” said Champat Rai, the leader of the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP) group that organized the protest.

Demonstrators chanting “Praise be to Ram” packed the Ramlila Maidan, a vast ground capable of holding more than 50,000 people, and filled the surrounding streets.

Some carried maces and tridents — weapons traditionally wielded by Hindu gods — and traveled great distances by train and bus to reach the rally.

“We have come here to protect our religion and Hindu pride. We want a temple for our Lord Ram,” Hitesh Bharadwaj, a teacher from Delhi’s satellite city Noida, told AFP.

The hardline VHP has applied pressure on Modi in recent weeks, staging a huge show of force in Ayodhya itself last month.

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Photo credit: theguardian.com

A close ally of Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the group is spearheading a push to raise the Ram temple, and is calling for more protests as the premier prepares to go to the polls by May.

The BJP was on the margins until the 1980s when its top leaders, including Modi, backed a growing movement for the construction of the Ram temple.

Its advocates want parliament to introduce a law bypassing legal hurdles blocking the temple before Modi’s term ends.

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The Supreme Court has delayed hearings into the disputed site but hardliners have vowed to lay a foundation stone next year regardless.

“We don’t care about the courts. A grand temple will be constructed in 2019,” Sushil Chawdhary, a VHP leader, told AFP. (VOA)