Kanya Puja is one festival that holds significance in Nepali culture, usually celebrated on the day of Krishna Janmastami every year.
The uniqueness of this festival is that young pre-pubescent girls are considered as the manifestation of highly-revered Goddess Chandeswori and offered similar prayers on the festival day.
These girls considered for worship are called Kumaris and are usually selected from the Shakya or Bajracharya clan of the Nepalese Newari community.
This annual festival begins with the traditional bands playing Dhime Baaja, Kushle Baaja and Manandhar Baaja, among others.
Then the devotees start with worship of Lord Ganesha and a young boy representing Lord Kumar. After that, devotees move on to worship every girl taking part in the festival with vermillion, pampering with oil massage on the scalp and then offer gifts and delicious dishes.
Gifts and blessings form the interesting aspects of the festival. Devotees offer local dishes such as malpuwa and noodles, swari, sel, biscuits, chocolates, money, clothes, among others to Kumaris.
Historian Jnan Kaji Manandhar says, “It’s the unparalleled faith of people in the powers of goddess Chandeswori that enables them to conduct this practice each year as they think the girls are a manifestation of the goddess.”
Kanya Puja 2017 Saw 8,000 Participants
Kanya Puja, this year, witnessed a participation of around 8,000 young girls from Kavre and other neighboring districts. As part of the festival, devotees worshipped girls in queues from Bholakha Tol of Banepa to Chardobato, covering a total distance of 4 km.
Secretary of the Kanya Puja Organization Committee SurKrishna Baidhya, who has been inaugurating the event for more than 30 years, says, “Banepa has never failed to organize this annual festival since its inception.”
Prashima Awale, an engineering student studying in New Delhi, India said, “I grew up either being worshipped as a Kumari, or worshipping other young girls as one. Postponing my ticket for a couple of days to participate in this year’s Kumar Puja is no surprise for my family.”
“At first, I was hesitant to make my daughter participate because there were so many Newar community people taking part, but I and my daughter’s pleasant experience during last year’s Puja prompted me to bring her again this year to receive blessings and gifts,” said Prietee Gupta, a housewife who shifted to Banepa from Biratnagar last year.