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The kumari, the living goddess

The Kumari, the Living Goddess, the myths and legends surrounding the Kumari, the Living Goddess of Kathmandu, is fascinating. Historical records show that the worship of Kumari as a living goddess has been prevalent since at least the 10th century, But Popular folklore relating to the Kumari as the incarnation of Taleju Bhavani, the patron deity of the Royals, and the king conversing and playing dice with her are linked to certain kings who ruled Kathmandu, like Trailokya Malla (16th century) and the last Malla ruler of Kathmandu Jaya Prakash Malla (18th century). According to the legend, it so happened that one night while playing dice with Goddess Taleju, or Kumari, The king was aroused by her celestial beauty and was overcome with lust. The Kumari, a goddess as she was, at once visualized the affectionate thoughts in the king’s mind. Showing her utter displeasure, she declared that she would henceforth never come to him and disappeared. The King was filled with thoughtful regret and begged for forgiveness. The Goddess later relented and said that she would enter the body of a virgin girl, a Kumari, which the king was to worship.

Another version of the legend has it that the king and kumara used to play dice every night on the condition that no mortal would see them doing so. Accordingly, the king had strictly instructed the queen and his slaughter not to enter or peek into a certain room while he was inside. But curiosity got the better of the women, and they peeped inside. The angry Goddess then disappeared. The king repented and prayed for the Goddess, forgiveness Goddess Kumari then came in his dream and told the king that she would henceforth not come in person. Instead, the king was to worship a Shakya virgin girl who would keep her divine power. Since then, a Shakya virgin girl is worshipped as the Kumari, and once a year during the month of September, the living Goddess is taken around the old quarters of Kathmandu in her chariot during the Indra Jatra festival.

The Kumari, the Living Goddes- a cult of Kumari

The Devotees of Shakti or mother goddess worship the feminine power variously. In one way they worship her in the form of a living virgin. This custom has been very popular in the Kathmandu valley through a connected history of the cult may not be available to us.
Some stray references contained in the genealogical works probably present us the history of the cult in the called, but a study on such references would suggest various sub cults enjoined to make the cult popular in this area of the world.

1. Kaumari cult- Consort of the Lord Kumar

In this form, the Kumari represents the female consort of the god Kumara. This god Kumara is the son of Lord Shiva, and he is believed to be the command of the military force of the divine world. The deity Kumara enjoys a distinguished position as one of the seven deities who guard the universe. The female consorts of the seven deities are collectively called seven Mothers.

2. Kumari Cult: Sexo-Yogic Type

Another type of Kumari worship is an obsolete ritual concerning the Kumari or Virgin girls. The Tantrik tradition has given a ritualistic provision to achieve spiritual perfection by worshipping virgin girls originating from different professional castes. One Tantrik text of Guptasadhana Tantra Provides the provision to worship nine types of virgin girls to achieve spiritual attainment.

3. Kumari Cult: Representation of Shakti Goddesses

Another important aspect of the Kumari cult appears to be related to the general Shakti cult in which a virgin is worshipped representing any type of Shakti Goddess one is devoted to. According to the Tantrik texts, virgin girls of a 1-16 year period may be worshipped as representing respective Shakti deities.

4. Buddhist cult of Kumari

Although the subject is not so clear it seems that the Nepali Buddhists themselves have their own tradition of Kumari worship. It is evidenced by one Buddhist fragmentary manuscript entitled Kumarikarchann-0nimittopadesha of probably the 15th century (Sharma 2021.110). Sapta Jumarikavadana is another work on Kumari worship of Buddhists. In one Tantrik text of Annadakalpa, we find Kumari worship prescribed according to the Maha-china Karama or the Chinese or Tibetan method (Dev 1961; 146). Buddhists seem to have approved the Kumari as Vajradevi (Slusser 1982; 314). They have also used a different calling for her Sasya-Kumari, the significance of which is not known to us.

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