Nepal on Thursday anointed a three-year-old girl as virgin goddess, part of a centuries-old Nepalese tradition that worships pre-pubescent girls as living goddesses.
Dozens of devotees thronged to Kathmandu Durbar Square in a ceremony in which the virgin goddess, called Kumari in the Nepali language, was carried from her home to the temple of Hindu Goddess Taleju, her patron.
Trishna Shakya, the new living goddess, was chosen from among four girls belonging to the indigenous Newar community of Kathmandu.
The selection followed news that her predecessor, Manita Shakya, 12, had reached puberty, which ended her 8-year reign.
“After the rituals at the temple of Taleju, new living goddess was brought to Kumari Ghar (Kumari’s house),’’ said Rajan Maharjan, an official at the temple.
The country’s President Bidhya Devi Bhandari put a seal of approval after meeting the 3-year-old.
Maharjan said the former living goddess left the temple after handing the divine power to the new goddess.
The Kumari, a major tourist attraction, is confined in a temple-palace in Kathmandu Durbar Square and is allowed to leave only on 13 occasions during festivals.
The goddess is worshiped by Hindus and Buddhists.
The tradition was tied to Nepal’s Hindu monarchy, which ruled the country for 240 years until it was abolished in 2008.
After the end of the monarchy, there was debate on whether the tradition should continue.
Its supporters argued that it should continue for it represented a culture unique to Kathmandu, home to rich, centuries-old cultural heritage.
The outgoing goddess was the first to have been anointed following the end of the monarchy. (dpa/NAN)