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The history of the Kumari-Tradition

Tympanum of the Golden Gate at King
Tympanum of the Golden Gate at King's Palace, Bhaktapur, Nepal. Taleju at the center.
Till Niermann
License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Source: WikiMedia Commons
more details: here
Till Niermann
License: CC BY-SA 3.0
Source: WikiMedia Commons
more details: here

History

The Kumari is a girl, who normally is in the age between 3 and 13 years. She is considered and worshipped as incarnation of the goddess Taleju. You can identify her by her red dress, which she has to wear constantly. She has to wear her hair in a topknot like a pagoda. On her forehead she has the third eye of the wisdom. In Kathmandu the acting Kumari lives in a palace, built in 1757, at the Durbar Square. The palace is named as "Kumari Che", "Kumari Ghar" or "Kumari Bahal". The courtyard is named as "Kumari Chowk".
The beginning of the Kumari cult dates back in the 13. Century, in India even back to 600 B.C.. A crucial event of the cult took place 1323, when Hara Singh Deva, a king from north India, on the run to Nepal, brought along his family goddess "Taleju Bhavani". Hara Singh Deva has become king of Bhaktapur soon. And so Taleju Bhavani has become governing goddess of the city. This very day Taleju is the most important goddess of the Nepalese kings and the defender of the Kathmandu valley. Kumaris are regarded as Incarnation of the goddess Taleju. They have appropriate power and highest social prestige by the population.
In the course of time the other Nepalese kings also adopted the Kumari cult. Until 2008 Nepal was a united kingdom. King Gyanendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev resided as last in Katmandu. He admired his personal, the "Royal Kumari", but he respected also the existence of other Kumaris. He become king, because king Birendra was murdered in a massacre by his son Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev in the year 2001. On 28. May 2008 the Republic of Nepal was proclaimed with an overwhelming majority. The monarchy thereby was abolished.
After a new type of virus spread worldwide from the Chinese city of Wuhan since December 2019 and triggered the global COVID-19 pandemic, this also led to extreme restrictions and weeks of curfew in Nepal. For the first time in history, the Kumari-Jatra was canceled and the Kumari Bahal in Kathmandu was closed for devotee, what caused considerable displeasure among the population. People believe that if they forego the usual rituals, they would anger the gods, and this would lead to disaster. During the car festival in honor of Rato Machindranath, there were violent clashes between police and devotee who defied government orders. Tear gas and water cannons were also used. There were many injured and arrested. "My family has been performing these rituals for generations and I have never heard of them being canceled," said the priest. "These festivals are held so that we may pray to the gods to free people from all problems and to protect us all from disease and disaster."

Timeline:

Date
Event
ca. 600 v. Chr
First references about the Kumari cult in India
1323
King Hara Singh Deva flees from India and brings his family goddess Taleju Bhavani to Nepal
1757
King Jaya Prakash Malla builds the Kumari Bahal at the Durbar Square in Kathmandu
1768
The troops of king Prithvi Narayan Shah take Kathmandu and Patan
1922
Inthronisation of Hira Maiya Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1923
Inthronisation of Chini Shova Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1931
Inthronisation of Chandra Devi Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1933
Inthronisation of Dil Kumari Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1942
Inthronisation of Nani Shova Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1949
Inthronisation of Kayo Mayju Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1953
Inthronisation of Dhana (Dharma) Kumari Bajracharya (Kumari of Patan / Lalitpur)
1955
Inthronisation of Harsha Laxmi Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1961
Inthronisation of Nani Mayju Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1969
Inthronisation of Sunina Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1978
Inthronisation of Anita Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1984
Inthronisation of Rashmila Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1990
Nepal becomes a constitutional monarchy
1991
1991: Inthronisation of Amita Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
1992
Inthronisation of Chandra Shila Bajracharya (Kumari of Patan / Lalitpur) als Nachfolgerin von Sanira Bajracharya
1999
Inthronisation of Sajani Shakya (Kumari of Bhaktapur) als Nachfolgerin von Nirmalla Shakya
01.06.2001
Massacre at the Nepalese royal house with 11 victims of the Royal Family
10.07.2001 11:55
Inthronisation of Preeti Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
2001
Inthronisation of Chanira Bajracharya (Kumari of Patan / Lalitpur)
2006
Inthronisation of Sophiya Bajracharya (Kumari of Bungamati)
28.05.2008
The Republic of Nepal is proclaimed and the monarchy thereby is abolished
07.10.2008 11:39
Inthronisation of Matina Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
2008
Inthronisation of Shreeya Bajracharya (Kumari of Bhaktapur)
2010
Inthronisation of Samita Bajracharya (Kumari of Patan / Lalitpur)
2013
Inthronisation of Diya Bajracharya (Kumari of Bungamati)
2014
Inthronisation of Yunika Bajracharya (Kumari of Patan / Lalitpur)
2014
Inthronisation of Smrity Bajracharya (Kumari of Bungamati)
2015
Inthronisation of Kinjal Bajracharya (Kumari of Bungamati)
2015
Intronisation of Resuka Maharjan (Kumari of Kilagal / Kilagar)
2016
Inthronisation of Jibika Bajracharya (Kumari of Bhaktapur)
28.09.2017
Inthronisation of Trishna Shakya (Royal Kumari of Kathmandu)
17.02.2018
Inthronisation of Nihira Bajracharya (Kumari of Patan / Lalitpur)
2018
Inthronisation of Kripa Bajracharya (Kumari of Bungamati)
2020
Because of the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Kumari Jatra was canceled for the first time in history
to be continued ...