3yo named ‘living goddess’ in Nepal, can leave temple just 13 times a year

A three-year-old girl in Nepal has been anointed “a living goddess” by Hindu priests, a mantle that requires she be removed to a temple-palace in Kathmandu where she must remain until puberty.

Trishna Shakya had been among the final four contestants taken from the Shakya clan. As the religious idol, known as the ‘Kumari,’ she will now be allowed to leave the temple just 13 times a year for religious celebrations.

Speaking to AFP, the girl’s father, Bijaya Ratna Shakya, who carried his daughter to her initiation ceremony at Durbar Square, the historic center of the Nepali capital, said: “I have mixed feelings. My daughter has become the Kumari and it is a good thing. But there is also sadness because she will be separated from us.”

The girl was chosen after meeting a number of strict criteria, namely having “an unblemished body, a chest like a lion and thighs like a deer.” After passing the initial tests, she then proved her bravery by failing to cry during the ritual sacrifice of a buffalo.

The Kumari, meaning ‘princess’ in Sanskrit, is considered the living embodiment of the Hindu goddess Taleju and comes from the Newar, a group indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley who mix elements of Hinduism and Buddhism.

In the past, Hindu priests performed animal sacrifices at initiations involving 108 buffalo, goats, chickens, ducks and eggs. However, the number has been curtailed in recent years after a series of protests from animal rights activists.

Shakya, who is one of a pair of twins, replaces 12-year-old Matine Shakya as Kumari. She left the temple-palace by a side door after the younger girl took the throne.

Matine had held the mantle of living idol since 2008.

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