Kumari – The Living Goddess

Kumari symbolizes a goddess like figure who is revered by the inhabitants of Kathmandu. Also known as the living goddess, a young girl is specially chosen through intricate customs and traditions to be declared a goddess for a certain period of time.


Kumari Jatra

Kumari Jatra/festival celebrates the Kumari, a virgin deity. A custom started by King Jaya Prakash Malla of Kathmandu, offers tribute to the major goddess Taleju Bhawani. Kumari is popularly known to be the incarnation of Taleju Bhawanai.

Kumari overlooking from Kumari Ghar
Kumari

The procession of Kumari, accompanied by the relics of Bhairava and Ganesha, is carried out in a chariot throughout Kathmandu city for 3 days following the Indra Jatra. The first day procession leads through downtown Kathmandu; the second leads through the uptown; and the final procession is carried out in the midtown.

The selection process of Kumari is an elaborate affair, headed by the Newar Buddhist priests. The operation is carried out in accord to the law dictated by Vajrayana Buddhism. The girls aged 4-7 are pre-screened and selected for a task involving meeting the deities in a dark room. The one who remains composed and calm throughout the process is declared the goddess. The locals believe that the spirit of Taleju Bhawani enters the body of the girl hence giving her the spiritual identity, and the term of being a goddess remains until her first menstruation.

Legend says,

Taleju Bhawani was the king’s political and social advisor and would give important tips to the king on good governance. However, during one of their meetings, the king, overwhelmed by desire, attempted to rape the goddess inside the Taleju Bhawani temple, prompting the goddess to disappear and vow never to appear before the king again. Worried by the goddess’ proclamation, the king begged her to reconsider her decision. Taking sympathy on the poor king, Taleju pledged to reside within the Kumari, a virgin girl from the city.

Jaya Prakash Malla identified the right Kumari and built a palace for her in the Hanumandhoka area. In honour of Taleju Bhawani and the Kumari, he began a separate procession called the Kumari Jatra, which happened to fall on the third day of Indra Jatra.

It is celebrated as a part of the greater festival Yenya Punhi or the Indra Jatra. The festival belongs to the Newar community of Kathmandu valley, the predominant inhabitants of the region. Celebrated as a street festival, it carries a historic and mythological significance to the bygone Malla Kingdom of Nepal.

Today, the festival is marked with grand processions and is observed by locals and tourists alike. It remains one of the major festivals of Nepal.

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Bhaktapur, The Former Royal State of Nepal

Bhaktapur formerly was a princely state ruled by the Malla Kingdom of Nepal, until it was invaded and annexed by Prithvi Narayan Shah in 1744 during his initial unification campaign. Today, it remains one of the major cities in Nepal and a popular tourist destination.


Overview

Bhaktapur or Bhadgaun is an ancient Newari city located 12 km east of Kathmandu. One of the 3 former princely states of Kathmandu valley, Bhaktapur is also known to be the largest among them.

55 windowed palace
55 windowed palace

Due to the historical and archaeological importance of the place, it was enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Newar tribe of people remain the predominant inhabitants of the city. The local architecture and culture signifies that of contemporary Newari art and lifestyle.

The city was hugely damaged by the major earthquake of 2015, along with the tourist site of Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Most of the monuments in the durbar square has been renovated or are in the process.

History

Founded in the 12th century by Ananda Malla, Bhaktapur was the capital city of the Greater Malla Kingdom until the 15th century and was an independent kingdom from then until the 18th century. The Newari art, cuisine and lifestyle flourished under the Malla regime. The popular religious and public festivals were birthed during the hey day of Bhaktapur. The individual rulers of Lalitpur and Kathmandu city belonged to the same Malla clan and were siblings.

Ranjit Malla was the last king of Bhaktapur. He was a close friend and aide of Prithvi Narayan Shah. The latter invaded and annexed the city during his initial conquest of the entire Kathmandu valley. Afterwards, it came to be known as one of the districts of the unified Nepal.

The most popular delicacy of Kathmandu, Ju Ju Dhau (Curd) was introduced in Bhaktapur.

Bhaktapur Durbar Square

The former royal complex at the center of Bhaktapur district is known as the Bhaktapur Durbar Square. Consisting of a palace, courtyards, historic monuments and numerous temples, the whole complex, along with Kathmandu Durbar Square and Patan Durbar Square, were included in the UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979.

After Kathmandu Durbar Square, Bhaktapur is the 2nd most visited tourist destination. it suffered a huge loss during the major earthquake of 2015. The renovations have started and going well lately.

Tourist Attractions

  • 55 Windowed Palace -It is a former royal palace of the Malla Kings. It has a total of 55 windows, hence the name 55 Windowed Palace. Today, it serves as the art museum for the  tourists.
  • Golden Gate -A major gate of the palace is entirely made out of gold. It lies just in front of the 55 Windowed palace and acts the main entry point.
  • Lion’s Gate -According to the legend, “This magnificent gate was produced from artisans whose hands were cut off after finishing touch to them by the envious king so that no more of such masterpieces could be produced again.” Today, it serves as one of the major entry points for the durbar square.
  • Mini Pashupati Temple -Similar to the Pashupatinath temple of Kathmandu, the Mini Pashupati temple is a major attraction of Bhaktapur
  • Nyatapola Temple -A 5 storied temple, it is located inside the Durbar Square premise, and is one of the major attractions of the area. Despite the huge earthquake in 2015, the temple still stands strong.
  • Bhairav Nath Temple -Dedicated to the God of Terror and Death, Bhairava, it is another major tourist destination. It holds importance among the locals; and devotees sacrifice animal at the temple premise every year.

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