Forgotten Goddess: The Kumari of Bungmati

Photos, video, text by Alyssa Mae Raynard, NewsNetNebraska

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Kinjal, a bouncy six year old is a Kumari goddess in Nepal. The word Kumari is derived from the Sanskrit Kaumarya, meaning “princess.” Photo: Alyssa Raynard, NewsNetNebraska

In Nepal, folklore says that many many years ago, the king received advice on ruling his kingdom by a wise and powerful goddess. One of these times, the queen interrupted the king and the goddess. The goddess became very angry, and told the king she would no longer help him run his kingdom.

The king begged for forgiveness until the goddess finally gave the king specific instructions: “I will come back, but in a different form. Find a beautiful pre-pubescent girl and worship her as you worship me, and she will guide you.”
Thus the Kumari tradition was born. The word Kumari is derived from the Sanskrit Kaumarya, meaning “princess”.
The history and glorification of this tradition left me feeling like I was over my head. Like trying to find and document the life of a Kumari was like trying to hang out with a celebrity. But then Kinjal, a bouncy six year old gone goddess, stepped into my life.

My time with Kinjal was eye-opening, and I’m excited to share the challenges the Kumari and her family face while trying to keep up the Kumari tradition. Click on the video below to watch Kinjal’s story.

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