Of the nearly 450,000 students appearing for the school leaving certificate exams in Nepal this year—one will be different from the others.
Chanira Bajracharya, the ‘Living Goddesses’ of Patan in Lalitpur district neighbouring Kathmandu, will be the odd one out. And it would be a different experience for this student.
Since the Living Goddess is allowed to leave her ‘palace’ only on 19 special occasions in a year, Chanira would appear for the exams in a special room of her residence in presence of examiners.
Chanira is one of the three Kumaris or Living Goddesses of Nepal who are worshipped by residents till they attain puberty. The other two are from Kathmandu and Bhaktapur—all in the Kathmandu Valley.
Chanira was chosen a Kumari ten years ago when she was in second grade. She was shifted from her family home to her palace and her studies continued inside it with the help of tutors.
Her tutors say that the ‘Living Goddess’ is a good student. She scored 78 per cent marks in her pre-SLC examination. Once she passes this examination, Chanira wants to study management and join the banking sector.
With just 10 days remaining for her exams to start Chanira follows a strict regimen these days—studying two hours in the morning, followed by prayers and ‘darshan’ to visitors and another round of studies in the evenings with tutors.
Started in 17th century by the Malla rulers of Kathmandu Valley, the tradition of worshipping littlegirls as ‘Living Goddess’, has continued even after abolition of monarchy in Nepal two years ago.
These girls from the Newari community are chosen based on a variety of factors and are worshipped till they attain puberty.
While the Kumaris of Lalitpur and Kathmandu stay in palaces and have restrictions on their public outings, the Kumari of
Bhaktapur is allowed to stay with her parents and can go to school or venture out on her own.