Living Goddess Kumari

Kumari, the living goddess, represents Taleju Bhawani and is said to be the living incarnation of the goddess herself. Legend states that the ancient kings of Nepal were devotees of goddess Taleju. Therefore, she would often visit the palace to play games of cards with the kings. Due to a conflict with King Jayaprakash Malla, it is said that the goddess got upset and disappeared. After countless prayers asking for forgiveness by the king, she appeared in his dreams and asked the king to choose a young Kumari for her to possess so that the people could continue to worship her. A Kumari candidate is selected from a Buddhist family of Shakya clan. Once selected, she is deeply revered by both Hindus and Buddhists. In the past, even the Shah Kings followed the tradition of receiving tika and blessings from her. She is taken out of her temple to participate in several festivals. Once a Kumari attains puberty, she loses the divine status and the selection for another Kumari begins. There are different Kumaris in Patan, Bhaktapur, Bungmati, Thimi and other Newar towns. The selection process of a Kumari resembles that of Tibetan Lamas. Dating back to the 17th century, the practice was institutionalized by a Malla King.

The famous Kumari Temple is situated right across the historical Gaddi Baithak Hall at Basantapur in Kathmandu. Kumari Ghar, the house of Living Goddess Kumari, is located on the southern side of the Kathmandu Durbar Square premises. Built by King Jaya Prakash Malla in 1757, Kumari Ghar is an example of Nepal’s magnificent architecture with its intricate wood carvings of gods and various symbols. Visit the Kumari Ghar at Basantapur, where the goddess resides and get a glimpse of the living deity. If you are visiting around late August or early September, then be sure to be a part of the biggest and most vibrant festival in Kathmandu called Indra Jatra, where the Kumari, is paraded across the city, in her golden palanquin.