Whenever somebody acknowledges Nepal, they acknowledge it either as the birthplace of a legend, Lord Gautam Buddha. Or it would be as the country of the highest peak in the world, Mount Everest. Besides these things, someone could barely be able to recognize our country, Nepal. Just then, an article on the magazine of National Geographic put a sparking light on the face of an ever-calmed child. And guess what, that child was none other than the former kumari of Patan, Unika Bhajracharya, whom we worship as a living goddess.
The living goddess
Well, it seems quite surprising. Especially, for the non-Asians. That we still worship a prepubescent girl as our mother goddess. Nevertheless, this is a fact. A girl, who belongs to Shakya or Bajracharya family is chosen for this sacredness. She thoroughly looks like a goddess with agni chakchuu in her forehead. To reflect the legacy, she attires in red clothes and various pieces of jewelry. For a tenacity, she is then abandoned to touch the ground by her feet. Whenever she needs to get out of her residence, a palanquin or the person serving kumari, shoulder her.
There is not solely one kumari in Nepal, whom we worship. But, there are about 10 kumaris within and out of the Kathmandu valley. Among which the most authoritative and honored kumari is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu. However, the lifestyles of these kumaris are all the same. But still, the Royal Kumari is more into it. While other kumaris can stay with their parents and go to school, she is not allowed to do so. Alternatively of that, she does her studies by a home tutor. But other remaining rules like having an attire of kumari and not to meet the earth, eat lenten meals, these all are unavoidable.
When the Kumari reaches America
Once, the Kumari of Bhaktapur breaks the rule by leaving her place of residence. On 3 June 2007, she went to America to attend the release of the movie, “ Living Goddess” at silverdocs. For that reason, she was first displaced from her position. Later, when she was prepared to bear a “cleansing” then she was again re-established as a kumari. That ceremony was arranged to remove any sins that might have perpetrated while traveling.
The Royal Kumari
I was thinking, even when we call the Kathmandu valley as the city of devotees, we forget to speak about that one person. The kumari. It’s probably because of her unavailability. She showed up only on a few occasions. If we count up upon them, then it must be around 13 occasions when she came out from kumari ghar. Here, all I am talking about the foremost kumari of Nepal. Although there is kumari in patan (Lalitpur), Bhaktapur, Bungmati, and other nearby places. However, the kumari of Kathmandu is established as the chief among them.
With respect, today we worship Trishna Shakya as our former kumari. She became kumari at the age of three, in 2017. Sometimes, these thinks amusingly amazes me that how could a three years old kid be this much calm and dedicated. Despite knowing that she has to live separately from her family until her reign, she simply goes for it. Oh…the time of her reign reminds me of my silliness. At one time, when I haven’t had that much knowledge about kumari, I used to think that the kumari is worshipped for her lifetime. But that was just my hypothesis. The reign of kumari ends with her first menstruation. Despite that, if her blood bleeds out of any reason, she would be no longer a kumari. The process for searching a new kumari starts at the moment she oozes.
Kumari also gets married…
A reign of any kumari is of a very short period, which we can count on our fingers. But, after puberty, they became no longer a kumari. Reasonably, they return to their family and try to adopt a normal life to live. Also, they can get marry. Because of a rumor like marrying a kumari can cause harm to her husband, many people often ask this question. That a kumari can get marry or not?
A kumari is an incarnate form of goddess Taleju, and goddess Taleju is a tantric form of goddess Durga. That’s why she is adored as the symbol of fearlessness and purity. Purity, for the reason of being kumari. Kumari means a virgin girl. As per the meaning, every unmarried girl is a kumari. Due to that reason, daughters are adored in a Nepalese family. Moreoftenly, in a newar family. So, once the kumari is replaced by another, she adorned as a regular girl, just like us.
On the other hand, most Buddhists see her as the embodiment of the supreme female deity, Vajradevi, a buddha. And most of the Nepalese are Hindu including the previous king. For instance, both Hindus and Buddhists reverenced her.
How a kumari is chosen?
Well, continuing the topic of having any cuts to kumari reminds me of the selection process of them. We nearby have heard about it from our childhood that to become a kumari, she must not have any cuts or birthmarks on her body. Along with that, there is a large list of expected essentials to be a kumari. Upmost, the five senior Buddhist Bhajracharyas priests ( the panch buddha), the bada guruji, or the chief Royal Priest ( Achagau), the priest of taleju and the royal astrologer do the task of determining kumari. Since several arenas pass to choose the kumari, the following qualifications are tested in those stages.
The basic arenas and qualifications
- Must belong to Shakya or Bhajracharya family
- Must have excellent health
- Never have shed blood
- Not been affected by any diseases
- Be without blemish
- Must not have lost any teeth
After examining these qualifications, they go for the Battis Lakshana. I wonder if you have heard about the battish lakchyans, which means 32 perfections of a goddess. It is said that a kumari must have those phoenixes. That includes eligibility like:
- Having neck like a conch
- Body like the banyan tree ( a sacred tree)
- Eyelashes like of a cow
- Thighs like a deer
- Chest like a lion’s one
- Voice, soft and clear as of a duck
- Dark colores eyes and hair
- Have dainty hands and feet
- Small and well recesses sexual organs
- A set of twenty teeth.
Further arenas are done to observe the signs of serenity and fearlessness. Also, the horoscope of the candidate is texted to complement it to the king. Moreover, they have to give a scary room test too. The edge of the evidence says that they are left alone in a vividly dark room with a dozen of the sacrificed animal’s heads. If they can stay over there without any fear, then they are meant to be eligible for the sovereignty of kumari. Afterward, as the final test, she is ordered to pick out the peculiar belongings of the least Kumari. The chosen one would have no difficulty doing it as other tasks.
The reason behind worshipping kumari
Nepal as in the rumors is a country filled with religious beliefs. Whatever you do, that meant to have a connection with these beliefs. And in some ways, they seem useful too, scientifically. Like we locate a tulsi plant right in front of the door, in the belief that it will protect us from evil beings. But, in reality, it transcends the clean air to our house, excluding the germs and all. Just like that, doing kumari puja is also a belief of ours. We do kumari puja because we believe that she is the incarnation of goddess taleju. Besides that, she is worshipped as a symbol of women’s power and divinity. Similarly, for the blessings, peace, and prosperity of the nation, the king also used to praise her by touching her feet. Since we are no more blessed with the king, the president of Nepal does that honor.