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Rashmila Shakya (Kathmandu)

No photo of this Kumari - Highslide JS
No photo of this Kumari
© Michael Murr
more details: here
© Michael Murr
more details: here

Data of person:

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Rashmila Shakya
1984 - 1991

About Rashmila Shakya:

Today (2008) Rashmila is 28 years old. Her day is beginning with a morning puja. Afterwards she starts with her work as software developer.
Once born as a human being, changed into a goddess at the age of four years and returned later into a normal human being. Softly speaking Rashmila Shakya, who once was the "living goddess" of Nepal and was worshipped as Kumari (virgin goddess) in the Kumari Bahal in Kathmandu, is today a student of the Information Technology (IT).
Today Rashmila lives with her family in the district Chikamugal near the Basantapur/Durbar square, where she lived as Kumari. In spite of her close solidarity with this tradition Rashmila is the first Kumari with an education, which makes it possible to study a technical subject.

Gladly Rashmila remembers her childhood. "Whenever I think of my childhood, I feel happy and I like to remember, that once I was a deity. Normally the people only have the possibility to experience their life as humans, but I had the chance to gain different experiences too."
To the question about Rashmilas most beautiful experience as living goddess she answers: "I enjoyed the annual Indra Jatra festival and it was a great opportunity to leave the Kumari Bahal and to see the vicinity. I also always could hardly wait the day of the Navaratri festival, because on that day I was allowed to run by myself, whereas otherwise I was carried or driven on a chariot."

Rashmila was never allowed to leave the Kumari Bahal for trips. Her parents often visit her in the palace. Most time of the day she spent to receive her devotees, which visited her daily, or to play with the children of her caretakers at the Kumari Bahal. Education took place only one hour daily.
"It was no systematic education at that time. An old teacher came daily to the Kumari Bahal to teach me. But it was not sufficient. Today Kumaris are taught three hours daily and come under scrutiny regularly. There was not such an organized training, that time when I was Kumari.", Rashmila explains.

When she reaches the age of 12 years, the end of her time as goddess was near. Because traditionally a girl could only be Kumari until she reaches puberty and menstruates the first time.
"After the returning home, she often wept and pleaded us to bring her back in the Kumari Bahal. Once she succeeded to run away from home and we were surprised that she found the way to the domicile of the Kumari at the Durbar square. Later we gave her the allowance to stay there some days.", explained Surmila Shakya, Rashmilas sister.

The first divine Softwaredeveloper:

The first day at school at the age of 12 years was also a challenge for Rashmila. However she was optimistic to master all the sticking points on her way. To the surprise of all she reaches, after years of hard work in order to catch up the teaching material, 70% in the SLC examination*.
Thereby Rashmila Shakya will be the first ex-Kumari with a graduate degree. She began with her academic studies in order to get the certificate as IT-Bachelor in 2004.
The student looks ahead optimistically, looks for a good job and has high ambitions in the software branch.

After her activity at "LUMANTI Support Group for Shelter" Rashmila works for a software company in Kathmandu as a developper of banking software. Additionally she works for her masters degree.

Sensationalism of the local and international media:

To the question, whether the Kumari tradition is an injury of human rights to her opinion, Rashmila answers with a clear no. "No, not at all. In the Kumari Bahal we will be provided very well. The people are worshipping us and we represent our country internationally. There is no reason to associate the Kumari tradition with violations of human rights."
Rashmila lays the blame on the local and international media, that the stories, of the hard life of a Kumari and her difficulties after the returning in her family to find her way in the normal life, are perpetuated. "However the media with their sensationalism called the human rights organizations in action to assume child abuse behind the Kumari tradition and to call for its abolishment. All this is based on a misunderstanding of the tradition and the effect, which these stories have on many people in the western world. It is true that the Kumari does not grow up with her biological parents, but they can visit her at any time. If today parents all over the world send their children on a boarding school, nobody speaks of human rights violations."

* = School Leaving Certificate

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