Nepali "Living Goddess" is rather into gadgets

andy carvin says,

This weekend, a living goddess paid a visit to the DC area. She's the Kumari of Bhaktapur, Nepal, one of a small group of girls worshipped as living deities in the Himalayan kingdom. Selected at a young age, Kumaris fulfil this spiritual role until they hit puberty, at which point they retired as goddesses and are replaced by another toddler.

The most famous Kumari, the Kumari of Kathmandu, is generally sequestered in a small palace, and she's not allowed to touch the ground when she leaves the building. In contrast, the Bhaktapur Kumari, Sajani Shakya, is allowed to live with her parents and attend school, despite the fact that the faithful are known to drop to her feet to pay their respects. This is the first time a Kumari has visited the US.

The Kumari was in town for the Silverdocs festival for the world premiere of a documentary about Kumaris. While she was here I managed to shot a short video and some pics on my phone. It turns out she's a gadget geek – as you'll see in the pics, when she wasn't holding court, she was snapping pics with her digital SLR and an HDV camcorder.


Reader comments: William Grewe-Mullins says,

In the post about the Living Goddess visiting DC, it sort of glosses over the fate of the Goddess, with the use of the term "Retired". (Wasn't that the euphemism used in "Blade Runner" for killing androids?). Check this link out for the truth behind the "retirement":

Kumari is allowed to stay as a living Goddess until she has her first menstrual cycle. Menstruation is seen as a mark of impurity and sexual maturity in Nepalese communities. After that, the search for a new Kumari will begin and the old Kumari will turn into an ordinary girl.

The sad part of it is that the ex-Kumari is no longer allowed to marry. There is a belief that marring ex-Kumari may bring death to the groom. She is seen as a cursed woman and she is not welcomed with open arms into any household. The blessing of being chosen turns into a curse. This depiction of the Kumari reveals a bad fortune, a narcotic reality of Nepalese women's lives and sexuality.

This is how Nepalese worship the virgin girl initially by honoring her and later surprisingly ruining her whole life.

Sorry to be a downer.

Michael Wade says,

When I saw your post about the Living Goddess today I immediately thought about a story I read in The Year's Best Science Fiction Twenty-third Annual Collection, "The Little Goddess" by Ian McDonald. It's a first person recollection from a former Kumari in 2034 where artificial intelligence, genetic engineering and high technology are the norm. The story can be found online at here: Link.

Stephen Morton says,

The claim that ex-Kumaris are not allowed to marry seems a little specious to me. While I was looking for more information following the initial post you made, I came across this page which has a chart detailing the marital status of all former Kumaris since 1922. It does say that it's considered unlucky to marry one, but it seems that they mostly do get married. Really, given these conflicting sources, I'd want the word of a solidly reputable source on this. The internet doesn't seem to know a lot, and what it does know seems to be mostly about the royal Kumari and not the others.