Viviana Corvaia

She is the Kumari

The living Goddess

A Child Goddess, incarnation of the Taleju Bhawani, chosen after a meticulous selection procedure.

The Kumari must belong to the Buddhist caste of Newar, the Sakya from Kathmandu. Even if selected between Buddhists, she is worshipped by the Hindus as well. 

The “minimum requirements” of a Kumari are the following: to have never contracted a disease and to be in good health. The selection is made following a specific horoscope and 32 attributes of perfection (the so called battis lakshanas). Between them, the eyes colour, the shape of teeth and the voice sound. To evaluate her character’s strength, during the “black night” or Kalratri of the Indian celebration called Dashain, the young candidates must sleep in a dark room full of goat heads, the bodies of 108 buffalos sacrificed to the Kali Goddess and several masked men who will try to scare her. The girl must show, during the whole time, patience and peacefulness. The new Kumari, once chosen, in order to become the sacred vase of the Taleju Goddess, first, must be purified. Therefore, the priests formulate different secret rituals to wash her body and spirits from all her previous experiences. The Kumari will always dress in red, wearing a bird’s nest bun (symbolizing the dome of a temple) and she will always have the Chakchuu or “fire eye”, painted in the centre of her forehead which expresses a special awareness and divination. Her assignment will end only when she will lose blood, either for a scratch or for her menstrual cycle. 


The project was carried out in 2014 and tells the moment when the Kumari leaves her home to take part in a procession that takes place once a year.

Buddhist monks visit her, the faithful await her outside, the crowd cheers her.

Other Kumari live in Nepal, and are located in the cities of Patan and Bhaktapur, they too are considered sacred both during and after being Kumari.