Nepal: Where Does a Living Goddess Live?
In a house, of course! A lovely 2 storied house with small wooden windows and a central courtyard. It is nothing grand by today’s standards, but when it was built in the 18th century, it was a place fit for only a goddess. Because of the strong relationship between the Living Goddess, the Kumari, and the king, her house originally overlooked the King’s palace. That was before he decided to move down the road and into a new house.
I wondered if, with the king now gone, there would still be a Kumari? “Absolutely!” everyone said. Once a goddess always a goddess, right? Almost. The Kumari is always the Kumari. The goddess herself does not change, but the young girl’s body within which she resides does. The goddess can only reside in the young girl’s body until she hits puberty, meaning that every 8-12 years a new girl is chosen as the Kumari, as the embodiment of the Living Goddess.
Standing in the courtyard, I find myself thinking: in the US, little girls want to grow up to be a beauty pageant or a movie star. If only they knew! I dare say a living goddess would have both of those options beat by a mile.
To learn more about what it is like to be a Kumari and the challenges of reincorporation into normal life, read: “From Goddess to Mortal: the True Life Story of a Former Royal Kumari” by Rashmila Shakya & Scott Berry