This is a totally amazing story. It turns out that in Nepal there is a tradition, still very much alive, of selecting infant girls — known as Kumaris — to be the incarnations of the Hindu Goddess of Power, Kali.
Once they’ve passed a rigorous 32-stage test, the children are transformed into living goddesses, given an immortal-like status and considered to be protectors from evil by thousands of devout Hindus and Buddhists.
And these girls’ lives are completely different from those of their former peers. They leave their homes and moved into temples, which they can only leave during festivals and processions — 13 times a year in total — when they can be worshipped. They are not allowed to walk, but instead are carried in chariots, thrones or in other people’s arms. Furthermore, Kumari goddesses do not go to school or otherwise appear outside their temples.
Then everything changes completely when a Kumari girl reaches puberty. Once menstruation starts, the girls are taken through a 12-day “Gufa” ritual, which puts an end to their life as a Kumari and they return to the ordinary life that they have never known. I would guess that adjustment to everyday life would be extremely difficult. (Scroll down for the video.)
1. Kumaris are chosen as infants in Nepal to become living goddesses, who are then worshipped by thousands of Hindus and Buddhists until they reach puberty. Here, one Kumari, Samita Bajracharya, is worshipped by a devotee at a festival during one of her nine public appearances throughout the year.
2. Once the Kumaris start menstruating, they retire from their goddess-like status. After a 12-day ‘Gufa’ ritual, the Kumari will go to a nearby river, untie her hair and wash off a third eye which has been painted on her forehead. She then returns to normal life, just as shown here with Kumari Samita Bajracharya.
3. The Gufu ceremony is a grand occasion and marks the start of a time when the child can go to school, return to their families and live in public, after years of being unable to do all those things. Here, Purna Shova, left, unties the hair of her daughter, Kumari Samita Bajracharya, at Bagmati river in Patan, Nepal.
4. The goddesses live in temples and other enclosed areas and cannot be seen in public, apart from during ceremonies and festivities. Here, Kumari Samita Bajracharya prepares to take part in a procession at Kumari Ghar in Patan, Nepal. She appears outside of her residence during different jatras nine times a year.
5. Kumaris, which means virgin in Nepalese, are carried their entire lives because they are considered too special for their feet to touch the ground. Samita Bajracharya, shown here with her family in Kathmandu, Nepal, was so accustomed to be carried that she could not walk properly after she retired.
6. Once she retired, Samita Bajracharya was able to go back to everyday life. She started playing an Indian classic music instrument called Sarod in her room in Patan, Nepal, although it took several months for her to be able to find the confidence to interact.
7. Samita Bajracharya looks ahead as her mother loosens her hair, to mark the end of her 12-day ‘Gufa’ ritual at Bagmati river in Patan, Nepal.
8. Purna Shova Bajracharya and her daughter cover Samita Bajracharya’s face with a cloth as she is brought outside wearing a traditional wedding dress to worship the Sun during the ‘Gufa’ ceremony.
9. After the Gufa, Kumari Samita Bajracharya’s life with her father Kul Ratna Bajracharya, left, mother Purna Shova, far right, and elder brother Sabin, right, will revert to the life of any other ordinary young girl — a life she has never known.
10. During her time as a Kumari, Samita Bajrachary could not go to school as she was not allowed to be seen in public. Here, she is tutored by a teacher from St. Xavior School at her home in Patan, Nepal, a school which provides a full scholarship to educate the living goddess during her reign.
11. The Kumaris spend their public appearances sitting in front of devotees or their offering. This ceremony was a special puja at Kumari Ghar in Patan, Nepal.
12. After becoming a Kumari, Samita was restricted from going out from her residence, only appearing outside when she was required for worship.
13. During the year, the Kumaris are placed on traditional thrones as worshippers take part in festivals to pay their respects to the living goddesses.
14. After life as a Kumari stopped, she was able to play with her friends and attend school. She had to pass a 32-stage test before she was permitted to be a Kumari.
15. Kumaris are painted in traditional artwork before they are worshipped at different events and processions throughout the year.
16. During the 12-day ‘Gufa’ ceremony, the Kumari will be kept in a closed room, where female friends and relatives are allowed to visit, as shown above.
17. The Kumaris are carried by their families to the different ceremonies but are never allowed to walk themselves — often leading to them having weak legs when they retire.
18. Samita Bajracharya, a Kumari, is shown sitting on the traditional throne as she waits for visitors during a traditional Matya festival.
19. Kumari Samita Bajracharya is dressed in traditional attire for her appearances and is often dressed by her family as a sign of respect.
20. Samita Bajracharya, a former Kumari, can now attend classes after retiring from her goddess life.
And here is the video:
Source: The Daily Mail.
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