Kumari, the living goddess, also called as Kumari Devi, is a young virgin girl whom people of Kathmandu Valley worship. Kumari is believed to possess some sort of divine qualities. The word Kumari is derived from a Sanskrit word “Kaumarya” which means “virgin”.
The process of being Kumari
The Kumari, to be selected should be a girl between four to seven years and a Buddhist from Newar Shakya caste. After confirming the caste of the girl, she is further checked whether she is eligible or not. For the girl to be eligible, she should be having good health, shouldn’t be effected by any disease or phobia, never have shed even a single drop of blood, and must not have lost any teeth yet. The girl is tested whether she is brave or coward. To test the bravery of a Kumari to be, she is locked in a dark room in which there are only the heads of slaughtered and sacrificed animals and the masked dancers. If the girl stays calm then she is brave, if not then she is not brave and doesn’t deserve to be a Kumari.
After checking this basic eligibility, she is further examined for a particular test and that test is called as “thirty-two perfections” of a Goddess. Qualities like, a neckline like a conch shell, a body like a banyan tree, eye lashes like a cow, thighs like a deer, chest like a lion, and voice soft and cheer as a duck’s are some among those “thirty-two perfections” test. Once the girl has passed all the tests and is being selected as a Kumari, her life changes extremely. She is being taken to the Kumari Ghar in white cloth.
Life of Kumari
Some rules are imposed on her, like she is not allowed to leave the palace other than any occasion or festival, she rarely meets her parents and meets them in a formal way, she is supposed to be dressed in red all the time, and is supposed to get that “fire eye” painted on her forehead which is then taken as a symbol of her special powers of perception. The king is supposed to kiss her feet every year to ensure a blessing for the country. To see her even once is considered very much lucky. People wait for hours to see her. They think this will bring good fortune to them. Thus, her life is now entirely changed and different from her previous life. She is not supposed to be ill-tempered as she is the Goddess now. Whenever she goes out in any occasion or festival, she goes in her golden palanquin. She is now considered sacred. People touch her feet in hope to receive a relief from troubles and illness. She is not supposed to wear shoes but the red colored stockings.
People and Kumari
Only those can come to see her who are ill or are having some medical issues, especially those people who are suffering from blood or menstrual disorders. During their meetings, the actions of the Kumari are carefully noted and her each and every action is interpreted as a prediction. For example, if she is crying or laughing loudly then this denotes serious illness or death, if she is weeping or rubbing eyes then this denotes immediate death, if she is trembling then this denotes imprisonment, if she is clapping her hands then this means the person should fear the king and if she is picking food offerings then this denotes financial loss.