Nepal has a unique culture of worshipping young girls as the manifestation of Goddess by calling them Kumaris.
Following the ages-old tradition of selecting young girls for ‘living goddess’ throne, Nepali citizens have now selected a three-year old girl, Trishna Shakya, as their next Kumari of Kathmandu, as the manifestation of Goddess Taleju.
The new girl was selected after her predecessor crossed the puberty period, which the Nepalese consider for naming a girl as Kumari.
As per the tradition, Trishna Shakya will take over as the new Kumari in a ceremony on September 28, 2017, where she will be taken from her family to further live in a palace in Kathmandu’s ancient Durbar Square and would be looked after by the specially-appointed caretakers.
“She will take her place on the Kumari’s throne after we perform prayers and tantric rituals,” says Uddhav Man Karmacharya, a Hindu priest.
According to Uddhav, Trishna was selected from among four aspiring candidates.
Once anointed as the living goddess, Trishna will be paraded across the capital in ceremonial attire and makeup required for the worship.
When outside, Trishna will be carried as she would be the goddess and her feet shouldn’t touch the ground.
Once holding the throne, Trishna will be allowed to go home only for 13 times in a year on special feast days.
The girls aspiring to become Kumaris have to pass through some strict selection criteria, which demands physical attributes, such as a chest like a lion and thighs like a deer.
Even after passing the above criteria, the final winner should have to prove her courage at the time of buffalo sacrifice offered in front of her.
This tradition has been criticised by various child rights activists, who argued that Kumaris are denied childhood and isolated from the society.
In response to the concerns, the Nepali Supreme Court (SC) (in 2008) ruled that the living goddesses should be offered necessary education.
Following SC ruling, the system continues to be in place till date, wherein the living goddess is allowed to be taught and write exams inside the palace.
Devotees offer special prayers to the living goddess on the Kanya Puja day, where young pre-pubescent girls are worshipped as the manifestation of highly-revered Goddess Chandeswori.
The outgoing Kumari named Matine Shakya was anointed in 2008 at the similar age of three years.
Kumaris are usually selected from the Shakya or Bajracharya clan of the Nepalese Newari community.