Festivals & Rituals
Festivalls, in which the Kumari participates amongst others:
Seto Machhendranath Snan
The temple of Seto Machhendranath is the scene for the celebration of a unique bath ritual. Holy ablution, highlight of the celebrations, takes place in the evening of the first day. The god-like figure is undressed by the priests and doused with water during tantric rituals.
(Chariot festival in honor of the White Machhendranath of Kathmandu)
The Kumari, who was carried to the temple in a palanquin, attends this ceremony.
In further ablutions during the next days Machhendranath will be cleaned with milk, oil and hot water. Then it will be painted and dressed in new clothes again.
At the Tundikhel square a horse parade and a big horse-racing takes place. The victory over the daemon Tundi, which should live in the underground of the square, is celebrated. Tundi is afraid of the noise of galloping horses and should be banished back in its dungeon by the horse-racing.
(Festival of horses / Horse-racing of Kathmandu)
Carried in a palanquin and accompanied by a horse, the Kumari is brought to the Tundikhel square and takes part on the horse-racing as an on-looker.
Indra Jatra - Kumari Jatra
In this festival the Kumari, sitting in a decorated chariot, is pulled through the old town of Kathmandu by youngsters. Meanwhile masked men are dancing and making deafening noise in front of Kumaris chariot. These men represent daemons, whose goal it is, to stop the chariot of the Kumari. Five priests represent the Pancha Buddhas, are enqueued among the chariot and the daemons, and have the task to prevent the daemons from achieving their goal.
(High chariot festival in honor of the god Indra and the living goddess Kumari of Kathmandu)
In this context you can find some statement in the web, that the mask dancing is a further examination of the Kumari. But these seams not correct. It is simply an element of the Indra Jatra festival.
Dashain - Durga Puja - Kala Ratri
The 10-day festival is the longest and biggest in Nepal. All through the festival is state of emergency, working is stopped, offices and shops are closed in the whole country. A series of rituals and sacrificial ceremonies take place in the country.
(High harvest home and sacrificial festival in honor of the goddess Durga)
The houses are painted and decorated with a mixture of cow dung and soil in expectation of the goddess. Pujas are celebrated in front of the "Kalash", a clay pot filled with sand, holy water and covered with cow dung as a symbol of the goddess.
At the suburban areas of Kathmandu sacrificial rituals and rituals of monetary take place. It is warned of the sacrificial rituals appearing archaic. These can overstrain western visitors.
In the morning 54 buffalos and 54 he-goats slaughtered ritually each by only one sword blow. In many sources in the Web it is said, that the slaughtering takes place in presence of the Kumari and she has to spend a night in absolute darkness sitting in the blood of the slaughtered animals. There is a falsity, because the Kumari observes the slaughtering from behind a window of the "Kumari Bahal". In the evening, when the Kumari goes to the Taleju temple, she had to pace along the heads of the animals, which are lined up there.
The child is washed by the hierophant, in order to clean it from its past experiences. In order to transform the body of the child into a divine body, the priest touches six parts of the girls body, which so called "anga", with a bundle of "Eragrotis cynasuroides kusa". The six parts of the body are eyes, cervix (neck), thorax, navel, vulva and vagina.
After the rituals the new Kumari, equipped with the sword of the Taleju, moves into the palace (Kumari Bahal) and resides there up to the beginning of her first menstruation. From that point on she is a nearly normal human being.
That sounds surely strange for us, but it belongs to their centuries old tradition. For the family, whose daughter is appointed the Kumari, it is a high honor.
Sources amongst others: