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Nepal’s ‘Living Goddess’ passes acid test
Kathmandu, Jul 3 (IANS):
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Published on 3 Jul. 2010 10:55 PM IST
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An extraordinary 15-year-old girl, who never went to school after being chosen as a ‘Kumari’ or ‘Living Goddess’ of Nepal revered by thousands of Hindus and Buddhists, has created history by becoming the first goddess to pass the tough school-leaving examination that leaves thousands floundering every year.
Chanira Bajracharya, one of the three ‘Kumaris’ of Kathmandu valley, became even more god-like in the eyes of people Saturday after the results of the dreaded School Leaving Certificate examination were declared and she was announced to have passed with “distinction”, having secured over 80 percent marks. Chanira, the Kumari of Lalitpur city, becomes the first reigning living goddess to have passed Nepal’s “Iron Gate” examination.
It is an extraordinary feat considering that out of the over 385,000 students who took the examination, only 64.31 percent made the grade.
In Chanira’s case it is even more extraordinary considering that she never went to school and wrote her test from her official “sacred” chamber in her intricate official robes.
The Kumaris, regarded as the incarnation of a Hindu goddess of power, Taleju Bhavani, are selected from a Buddhist community on the basis of 32 auspicious signs, which in the past included having a horoscope compatible with that of the king of Nepal.
The Kumaris were also regarded as the protectors of the royal family and the only living beings before whom the monarch humbled himself by bowing down.
Chanira, like her peers and predecessors, lives in her own palace where her movements are restricted.
The Kumaris are not allowed to walk on the ground and are either carried or tread on a red carpet.
Though the teen was enrolled in the Bhasara Secondary School, she never went there to attend classes. Instead, her teachers came to her palace to coach her.
When she took the exam in March, it made news worldwide and images of the goddess, arrayed in red and gold clothes with a third eye painted on her forehead were circulated far and wide.
After getting her results, the shining-eyed Kumari said she would now take admission in a private college. She is said to be keen to study computer science and Newari, the language of her clan.
In the past, she had said she would like to take up a career in banking.
Chanira is nearing the end of her reign since as per tradition, a Kumari is replaced before she starts menstruating.
A former Kumari, Rashmila Shakya, became a celebrity after she studied computer science and co-authored a book on her life as a goddess, “From Goddess to Mortal”.
However, Rashmila went to school only after her reign was over; so did many other Kumaris.
The rules were relaxed after 2008 when an advocate challenged the restrictions imposed on the young girls and called them a denial of their fundamental rights. Subsequently, Nepal’s Supreme Court ordered the government to allow the Kumaris to attend school.
However, the curbs continue to be there and another Kumari, Sajani Shakya, was “sacked” in an unprecedented move by her priests after her family accepted an invitation for her to go to the US to attend a film festival that showed a film featuring her as well as two other living goddesses.

 
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