Regarded as a Living Goddess, a young Newar girl with no blemishes is chosen to represent the Goddess Kumari as an incarnation of Goddess Taleju, the tutelary deity of the Malla dynasty and the Shah dynasty which inherited the tradition.
The young candidates from the Shakya caste among the Newars, many as young as four years old, must go through an extremely strict and harrowing selection process before one of them is chosen to represent the Goddess. She must remain calm and show no signs of fear even when put through scary tests.
Once chosen, she has to live within the Kumari Ghar.
Kumaris in Nepal only became evident in the 17th century. There are several legends that tell of how the Kumari came to be in Nepal. From the goddess visiting King Jayaprakash Malla in his dreams. To the same King angering the goddess for making sexual advances. To the King’s wife learning of the banishment of a young girl possessed by the goddess telling the King to bring her back as the living embodiment of the goddess.
Visit the Kumari Ghar across Durbar Square, at Basantapur, where she resides and you may be in luck to catch a glimpse of this Goddess. If you are visiting in late August or early September, you may get the opportunity to observe the fascinating festival known as Indra Jatra when the Living Goddess Kumari is carried out of her residence and pulled through the narrow roads of old Kathmandu in a large chariot, a sight to behold.