Nepal has an extraordinary and unique tradition of worshiping young girls as living goddesses or Kumaris. The people of Nepal believe that the kumara is the incarnation of the goddess Durga. The word kumari comes from the Sanskrit word for “girl” or “daughter.” Kumaris are believed to be the incarnation of the goddess Durga, and they are worshipped as such by the people of Nepal.
The kumaris are usually between the ages of three and twelve and are selected from the Newari community in Nepal. A group of astrologers and priests choose several girls, between the ages of three to four, who they believe to be the most promising. They undergo a rigorous selection process, which includes being able to withstand long periods of isolation, being unafraid of ghosts, and being able to withstand pain.
Once a kumari is selected, she is taken to the Kumari Ghar, where she will live until she reaches puberty. The Kumari Ghar is a special house in Kathmandu Durbar Square reserved for the kumari. She is looked after by a group of caretakers, including a priest, who teaches her how to behave like a goddess. The kumari is not allowed to leave the Kumari Ghar except for special occasions. On these occasions, she is carried on a palanquin by her caretakers.
The family of a child who is chosen to become a Kumari is considered to be very fortunate. It is a great honor for the child and the family, and the community highly reveres the child. The family often receives gifts and financial support from the community, and the child is given a privileged position within the community. The family is also responsible for the care and well-being of the child, and they must ensure that the child is adequately prepared for her role as a Kumari.
However, in recent years, there has been a growing movement to put an end to this tradition. Some believe it is a form of child abuse, as the girls are taken away from their families and forced to live in isolation. Others believe the tradition is outdated and no longer relevant in today’s society. As a result, several laws have been passed in recent years to prohibit the practice of Kumaris. While some continue to uphold the tradition, others are working to bring it to an end.
For many Kumaris, life after the palace turns out to be a nightmare. Kumaris find it hard to integrate back into society because they are so used to being worshiped and revered. They are often treated like royalty and have difficulty adjusting to a life where they are not the center of attention. This means most struggle with coping with the school environment, where they have to socialize with their peers.
Rashmila is one of the best-known ex-Kumaris of all time and one of the first to get an education. When she was nine years old, she was selected to be Nepal’s Kumari, or living goddess. After a decade as the Kumari, Rashmila’s parents decided it was time for her to retire and return to a normal life. However, getting an education was not easy for Rashmila. She had to fight for her right to go to school and was eventually able to attend college and get a degree. She currently works as a programmer.
However, she is still grateful for the opportunity of experiencing life as a living goddess. “Being a Kumari allowed me to experience a double life and possess a double identity. I will always cherish that.” – Rashmila.
Presently, there are nine ex-Kumaris living in Nepal. Though they are no longer worshipped as goddesses, they are still revered by many Nepalis. They occasionally make public appearances and are also available for private blessings and ceremonies.