I read the most fascinating story yesterday about Nepal appointing a three-year-old girl as its new living goddess.
KATMANDU, Nepal - Wrapped in red silk and adorned with red flowers in her hair, Matani Shakya received approval from the priests and President Ram Baran Yadav in a centuries-old tradition with deep ties to Nepal's monarchy, which was abolished in May. The new "kumari" or living goddess, was carried from her parents' home to an ancient palatial temple in the heart of the Nepali capital, Katmandu, where she will live until she reaches puberty and loses her divine status. She will be worshipped by Hindus and Buddhists as an incarnation of the powerful Hindu deity Taleju. A panel of judges conducted a series of ancient ceremonies to select the goddess from several 2- to 4-year-old girls who are all members of the impoverished Shakya goldsmith caste. The judges read the candidates' horoscopes and check each one for physical imperfections. The living goddess must have perfect hair, eyes, teeth and skin with no scars, and should not be afraid of the dark. As a final test, the living goddess must spend a night alone in a room among the heads of ritually slaughtered goats and buffaloes without showing fear. Having passed all the tests, the child will stay in almost complete isolation at the temple, and will be allowed to return to her family only at the onset of menstruation when a new goddess will be named to replace her.
Isn't she adorable?
Wow! That's a large bill for such a little girl. A living goddess? I read that devotees touch their heads to her feet as a sign of respect. What a fascinating ritual, eh? I admit ignorance that I've never heard of this.
What do you think? Is this too much of a burden on a little girl? Or is this simply similar to American "beauty pageants?"
Let us know what you think.
Marley = )
GHOST HUNTRESS: THE AWAKENING (Coming May 2009, Houghton Mifflin)
GHOST HUNTRESS: THE GUIDANCE (Coming October 2009, Houghton Mifflin)
SORORITY 101: Zeta or Omega? (Available from Puffin Books)
SORORITY 101: The New Sisters (Available from Puffin Books)