A 3-year-old girl allegedly transcended humanity Thursday and became the new living goddess of Nepal and is believed by Buddhists and Hindus to bring the country fortune.
A panel of Hindu priests officially acknowledged Trishna Shakya as the living goddess, or Kumari, after sifting through four other finalists. The officials checked her horoscope to make sure Trishna had no physical imperfections, according to the Associated Press.
Hindu devotees gave offerings of fruits and candy to the new Kumari, adorned in flower garlands and a red dress, and paraded her through Kathmandu Durbar Square for an initiation ceremony. Her father carried her afterward to the temple palace where she will live until she turns 12, according to DNA India.
“She is going to be the living goddess. She is just not our daughter but the living goddess of the whole country,” Bijaya Ratna Shakya, her father, told the AP. “I am happy but at the same time I feel like crying.”
The Kumari is revered by both Hindus and Buddhists throughout Nepal. These people only acknowledge a physically flawless child with a “chest like lion and thighs like a deer,” and the right astrological signs as the living goddess.
“It is our tradition that after the living goddess reaches age 12 we have to find a new one and the search begins. We have to make sure that the goddess is suitable to bring good fortune for the country,” Gautam Shakya, one of the panel of Hindu priests, told the AP. “We have found our new Kumari.”
Notable Kumari have historically represented one of three former royal kingdoms of the Kathmandu Valley –Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, and Patan — though Nepal’s monarchy ended in 2008. The Kumari tradition comes from the Newar people who are indigenous to the Kathmandu Valley and blends spiritual elements of Hinduism and Buddhism.
The Kumari will endure another initiation rite at midnight when Hindu priests will sacrifice a buffalo, among other animals, in front of her. The Kumari must not cry at the site of the sacrifice, therefore demonstrating bravery according to tradition, in order to pass the rite.
Though the Nepali government mandated in 2008 that Kumaris must be educated while living within their temple palace, many have found reintegration to society and family life after turning 12-years-old to be difficult, according to DNA India. The former Kumari, now 12, exited the back of the temple Thursday carried on a chair by her family to the home she left when she was three.
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