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Festivals & Rituals

In order to become Kumari, the girl has to fulfill the physical characteristics, already specified. In many sources it can be read that the selected girl is brought into a temple and come under hard scrutiny. In my researches I come to the conclusion, that this is frequently confused with rituals, which are not concerned with scrutinies. It is a matter of religious rituals, which are repeated annually. About scrutinies, if there are something, I did not found anything. Rashmila Shakya also writes in her book, that there are no scrutinies.

Festivalls, in which the Kumari participates amongst others:

Seto Machhendranath Snan
(Chariot festival in honor of the White Machhendranath of Kathmandu)

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.
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.

Ghode Jatra
(Festival of horses / Horse-racing of Kathmandu)

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.
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
(High chariot festival in honor of the god Indra and the living goddess Kumari of Kathmandu)

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.
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
(High harvest home and sacrificial festival in honor of the goddess Durga)

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.
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.

At all public festivals the Kumari is worshipped and exactly observed by the people, because her behavior is said to be an omen for the future.


After the selection of a suitable girl different initiation rituals are following. Most of them have to be kept secret, because otherwise the tantric magic would lose its effect. Magic ceremonies are to prepare the girl to be ensouled by the goddess.
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.