A pre-pubescent girl appointed as a ‘living goddess’ by Hindus and Buddhists has made a rare public appearance in Nepal during a religious festival.
The Kumari, a young girl dressed in a red and golden costume who is worshipped by thousands, is appointed as an incarnation of the goddess Kali and only appears 13 times a year.
As part of her sheltered existence, she spends the rest of the year in a temple away from the public, and only appears among others for special occasions.
The latest Kumari, Matina Shakya, was three-years-old when she took her seat as Royal Kumari in August 2010 in the Nepalese capital Kathmandu.
The Kumari is known in Nepal as the protector from evil and the bestower of good luck and prosperity.
The Kumari, literally meaning ‘virgin’, is a young girl chosen from the Buddhist community to represent a Hindu goddess after she passes 32 tests of ‘perfection’.
These are said to include ‘having a body like a banyan tree and golden, tender skin which has never been scratched or shed a drop of blood.’
‘Living Goddess Kumari’ Matina was today carried through a crowd of onlookers as she attended the Changu Narayan festival in Kathmandu. In Kathmandu valley sightseeing also you can observe Kumari in Hanuman Dhoka.
The Kumaris are a major tourist attraction and are revered until they menstruate, after which they return to the family and a new one is chosen.
One of Matina’s predecessors, Sajani Shakya, made international headlines in 2007 after she visited the United States to promote a film by a British company about the Kumari system.
These are said to include ‘having a body like a banyan tree and golden, tender skin which has never been scratched or shed a drop of blood.