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Monday, September 7, 2009

History in Nepal

Monday, September 7, 2009
Whilst the veneration of a living Kumari in Nepal is relatively recent, dating only from the 17th century, the tradition of Kumari-Puja, or virgin worship, has been around for much longer. There is evidence of virgin worship taking place in India for more than 2,300 years. It appears to have taken hold in Nepal in the 6th century. There is written evidence describing the selection, ornamentation and worship of the Kumari dating from the 13th century.
There are several legends telling of how the current tradition of the Kumari began. Most of the legends, however, tell of King Jayaprakash Malla, the last Nepalese king of the Malla Dynasty (12th-17th century CE). According to the most popular legend, a red serpent approached the king's chambers late one night as he played tripasa, a dice game, with the goddess Taleju. The goddess came along every night to play the game, with the condition that the king refrain from telling anyone about their meetings.
But one night the king's wife followed him to his chamber in order to find out who the king was meeting so often. The king's wife saw Taleju and the goddess was angered. She told the king that, if he wants to see her again or have her protect his country, he'd have to search for her among the Newari(Shakya) community, as she would be incarnated as a little girl among them. Hoping to make amends with his patroness, King Jayaprakash Malla left the palace in search of the young girl who was possessed by Taleju's spirit.
Even today, a mother's dream of a red serpent is believed to be a portent of the elevation of her daughter to the position of Royal Kumari. And each year, the Nepalese King seeks the blessing of the Royal Kumari at the festival of Indra Jatra. This tradition has changed recently with the country becoming the youngest republic of the world. This year the president of Nepal sought Kumari's blessing instead.
A variation of this and other legends names King Gunkam Dev, a 12th century ancestor of King Jayaprakash Malla, as the main character rather than Jayaprakash Malla.
A third variation of the legend says that during the reign of King Jayaprakash Malla, a young girl was banished from the city because it was feared that she was possessed by the goddess Durga. When the queen learned of the young girl's fate, she became enraged and insisted that the king fetch the girl and install her as the living incarnation of Durga.

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