Tibetan Odyssey – Kumari Ghar (14)

Kumari Ghar in Basantapur Square in Kathmandu, Nepal, on June 30, 1999.As our Nepalese guide explains, the Kumar Ghar, or "House of the Living Goddess," was ordered built by King Jaya Prakash Malla in 1757 to house the Kumari Devi. According to the tradition, a Kumari is a young girl who is believed to be the current incarnation of the demon-slaying Hindu goddess Durga.The goddess is chosen from a handful of girls aged three to five who are placed in a darkened room with dancing men wearing demon masks and freshly-severed buffalo heads. The true goddess will show no fear and demonstrates other expected qualities.The new Kumari then moves into the Kumari Ghar and is worshiped as a living goddess. The Nepalese government provides for all her needs and those of her caretakers. Her reign comes to an end when she menstruates or bleeds for any other reason, including just a minor scratch. Then the selection process starts again.