Nepal’s “living goddess” passes school leaving exam

Nepal’s ‘Living Goddess’ passes acid test. KATHMANDU: An extraordinary 15-year-old girl, who never went to school after being chosen as a ‘Kumari’ or ‘Living Goddess’ of Nepal revered by thousands of Hindus and Buddhists, has created history by becoming the first goddess to pass the tough school-leaving examination that leaves thousands floundering every year.Chanira Bajracharya, one of the three ‘Kumaris’ of Kathmandu valley, became even more god-like in the eyes of people on Saturday after the results of the dreaded School Leaving Certificate examination were declared and she was announced to have passed with “distinction”, having secured over 80 percent marks.Chanira, the Kumari of Lalitpur city, becomes the first reigning living

goddess to have passed Nepal’s “Iron Gate” examination.It is an extraordinary feat considering that out of the over 385,000 students who took the examination, only 64.31 percent made the grade. In Chanira’s case it is even more extraordinary considering that she never went to school and wrote her test from her official “sacred” chamber in her intricate official robes. The Kumaris, regarded as the incarnation of a Hindu goddess of power, Taleju Bhavani, are selected from a Buddhist community on the basis of 32 auspicious signs, which in the past included having a horoscope compatible with that of the king of Nepal.The Kumaris were also regarded as the protectors of the royal family and the only living beings before whom the monarch humbled himself by bowing down.Chanira, like her peers and predecessors, lives in her own palace where her movements are restricted. The Kumaris are not allowed to walk on the ground and are either carried or tread on a red carpet.Though the teen was enrolled in the Bhasara Secondary School, she never went there to attend classes. Instead, her teachers came to her palace to coach her.When she took the exam in March, it made news worldwide and images of the goddess, arrayed in red and gold clothes with a third eye painted on her forehead were circulated far and wide.After getting her results, the shining-eyed Kumari said she would now take admission in a private college.

She is said to be keen to study computer science and Newari, the language of her clan.In the past, she had said she would like to take up a career in banking.Chanira is nearing the end of her reign, since as per tradition a Kumari is replaced before she starts menstruating. A former Kumari, Rashmila Shakya, became a celebrity after she studied computer science and co-authored a book on her life as a goddess, “From Goddess to Mortal”. However, Rashmila went to school only after her reign was over; so did many other Kumaris.The rules were relaxed after 2008 when an advocate challenged the restrictions imposed on the young girls and called them a denial of their fundamental rights. Subsequently, Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the government to allow the Kumaris to attend school.However, the curbs continue to be there and another Kumari, Sajani Shakya, was “sacked” in an unprecedented move by her priests after her family accepted an invitation for her to go to the US to attend a film festival that showed a film featuring her as well as two other living goddesses. news from:  ~ Kumari, or Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshipping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in South Asian

countries. Kumari literally means virgin in Sanskrit, Nepali and other Indian languages and is a name of the goddess Durga as a child.In Nepal a Kumari is a prepubescent girl selected from the Shakya clan of the Nepalese Newari community. The Kumari is revered and worshiped by some of the country’s Hindus as well as the Nepali Buddhists, though not the Tibetan Buddhists. In India a Kumari is generally chosen for one day and worshipped accordingly on certain festivals like Navaratri or Durga Puja. In the Indian state of Bengal this is a particularly prevalent practice.While there are several Kumaris throughout Nepal, with some cities having several, the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The selection process for her is especially rigorous. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, aged four, was installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy. Chanira Bajracharya, as the Kumari of Patan is the second most important living goddess. A Kumari is believed to be the bodily incarnation of the goddess Taleju (the Nepalese name for Durga) until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status.  ~ GoodNews International

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