11/20/2014, 00.00
NEPAL
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A Hindu "living goddess" chooses to study with Catholics

by Christopher Sharma
Samita Bajracharya has spent the last few years as "Kumari" or "living goddess", the incarnation of Kali worshiped by both Hindus and Buddhists. After her "divine" period, she chose to enrol in the St Francis Xavier Catholic School. "I am still a Hindu," she told AsiaNews, "but I received solidarity and respect from Catholics."

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - A "living goddess" worshiped for years by Nepal's Hindus and Buddhists as the incarnation of Kali - Durga in the Buddhist tradition - has chosen a Catholic school for her education.

In accordance with her religious tradition, Samita Bajracharya, 13, has recently completed her "divine" period with the onset of menstruation and the closure of her "third eye". Now she will attend "a Catholic school because it has the best method of teaching" and "the teachers and the students make me feel at home".

"Kumari" is a highly revered institution in Nepal. Recognised as the incarnation of the deity around five years of age, girls live their pre-pubescent period at home under complex rules.

Religious festivals are the only exception. On such occasions, they come out to bless the faithful but without ever coming into physical contact with the ground or other people.

Only their relatives and close friends can touch them with the approval of the holy men responsible for recognising young people.

When they menstruate the first time, their "divine" period ends as they are considered "unclean" and no longer a "virgin".

However, after "retirement", they remain very popular throughout the country and continue to enjoy support.

"I was chosen at the age of nine, and I knew very little about myself," Samita told AsiaNews. "My family and tradition encouraged me to become Kumari. I could not go to school, play outside of the home or be touched by anyone. My job was to bless the faithful who came to see me with offerings. "

In addition to this, there were religious festivals. "Sitting on a kind of traditional throne, I took part in the main functions on the most important holidays," she said.

"I was taken around in a carriage to bless the faithful and the nation. I met our president, the prime minister and many other authorities. However, traditional practices have kept me away from education. "

After her time as a goddess, she decided to fill this gap. "I realised that you need a school, and after some talk I chose St Francis Xavier."

"I am still a Hindu, but I chose a Catholic school because it has the best method of teaching. In addition, the teachers and the students make me feel at home. I received solidarity and respect from Catholics. "

Her mother, Purna Shova Bajracharya, is happy about her choice. "My daughter is being treated very well, and she has a chance of getting one of the best educations available in an environment of love and care. I am happy."

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