A girl of uncertain age, but presumably 6 years old (in 2013) is considered a true goddess: Kumari, the incarnation of the ancient goddess Taleju. She inhabits Kumari Ghar, a palace on Durbar Square in Kathmandu, a place that has become a curious tourist attraction, as outsiders can visit it but are strictly prohibited from registering images of the divine child. But, providentially, street vendors sell copies of the official photo of the goddess outside the site.
Legend has it that King Jaya Prakash Malla, under the influence of alcohol, while playing with the goddess Taleju in the form of a human, began to covet her. This offended the goddess and she ordered the king to take an oath, according to which he would select a virgin girl and this child would never leave the palace.
The Malla dynasty was overthrown by King Prithvi Narayan Shah, but the tradition of reverencing the goddess Kumari continued. Until 2008, King Shah went to Kumari to receive tika on his forehead, which symbolized the monarch’s power.
The girl becomes a goddess after a rigorous selection process and remains in this condition until the first menstruation. To be candidates, the girls must be of the Newars ethnicity (considered the first inhabitants of the Kathmandu Valley and who promote the most elaborate religious festivals), and be up to four years old.
They are subjected to frightening tests and cannot show signs of fear. Once chosen, the girl must live inside the Kumari Ghar (Kumari’s house), her feet should never touch the ground and will only leave her residence during certain festivals.
One of the few opportunities that Kumari leaves the palace is the Indra Jatra festival, held between the end of August and the beginning of September, when the Goddess Viva Kumari is transported in procession through the streets, in a large carriage, accompanied by other cars and masked dancers .
She will remain a living goddess until any form of bleeding occurs, which usually occurs when she reaches puberty, when her successor will be chosen.
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