Tuesday 24 October 2017

Toddler becomes new 'living goddess' after previous deity retires

Newly appointed Living Goddess Kumari of Kathmandu Trishna Shakya (3) is carried by her father towards the Kumari palace. Photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters
Newly appointed Living Goddess Kumari of Kathmandu Trishna Shakya (3) is carried by her father towards the Kumari palace. Photo: Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters

Tom Embury-Denis

A girl aged three has been named Kathmandu's next "living goddess" after her predecessor retired.

Trishna Shakya has been named the new Kumari of Nepal's capital, continuing an ancient tradition that sees young girls worshipped as the living embodiment of the Hindu goddess Taleju.

She was selected ahead of three other candidates after a 21-day process that included spending a night among heads of slaughtered goats and buffalo.

Trishna was anointed yesterday, before being taken from her family home to live in an ancient palace to be looked after by caretakers.

"She will take her place on the Kumari's throne after we perform prayers and tantric rituals," Uddhav Man Karmacharya, a Hindu priest, said before the event.

Girls must fulfil all the criteria of the "32 perfections" of a goddess, which include a "body like a banyan tree", "eyelashes like a cow" and a "voice soft and clear as a duck's".

The girl will now only be allowed to leave the palace 13 times a year on festival days, when she will be paraded through the city.

Her predecessor, Matina Shakya (12), left through a rear entrance with her family.

Despite criticism from some child rights activists, the practice has continued since the end of the Nepalese Hindu monarchy in 2008.

Irish Independent

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