Photographer's Note

I wonder why this subject, one of the more fascinating ones of the fascinating country that is Nepal, is so rare here in TE. I have done a quick search and I only found these photos (1, 2, 3), so I found myself a good excuse to post this one, in spite of its poor technical quality.

That little girl you see on the veranda, is the Kumari Devi, also known as Royal Kumari, a young girl that is considered and revered as a living goddess, the incarnation of the Hindu goddess Taleju, who seems to be an important goddess to the Nepali Hindus, considering that largest Hindu temple in Kathmandu is dedicated to her. Some sources mention that she incarnates Durga, another popular Hindu goddess (in fact more known than Taleju, at least outside Nepal). In my almost complete ignorance of the Hindu mythology, I guess that maybe Durga and Taleju are just different names or avatars of the same entity.

The girl is chosen through an intricate selection process somehow reminiscent of that used to find the Dalai Lama in Tibet. Once they find the right girl, she is taken from her family and goes living in the palace where this photo was shot, the Kumari Ghar, which lies next to the old Royal Palace, in the main square of the old part of Kathmandu. Once a year, there is a big festival, the Indra Jatra, during which she is shown around on a ceremonial chariot and she blesses the King of Nepal. That lasts until she reaches puberty; as soon as she has the first menstruation she is no longer the Kumari.

Interestingly, the girl always comes from an ethnic group, the Newari Shakya, who are Buddhists, not Hindu, like those who then will adore her as goddess.

According to some excited Nepalis that were with us on the yard of the palace, we were very lucky (and blessed) for having been able to see her, as she rarely appears and when she does, it is considered to bring much good luck to whom sees her. Well, let me be kind enough to believe that it brings good luck, but about she appearing rarely...

Web links to more info:
* Wikipedia
* - 'Kumari: Living goddess or victim of tradition?' (newspaper article).

Location (latitude, longitude): 27.703778,85.306674

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Additional Photos by Jose Pires (stego) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4422 W: 612 N: 7301] (24132)
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