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Capturing the Kumaris

The Kumaris, or living goddesses, of Nepal have for long been an object of veneration and tribute.

art and culture Updated: Jun 09, 2003 16:22 IST
PTI

Kumari:
The Virgin Goddess
Text: Carroll Dunham, Daniel B Haber
Photographs: Thomas L Kelly
Lustre Press/ Roli Books
2003
Picture Book
Price: Not stated
ISBN: 81-7536-261-4

The Kumaris of Nepal have for long been an object of veneration and tribute. Prayed to as incarnations of goddess Taleju Bhawani, the tradition goes back around 700 years.

The Kumaris, young girls selected by a process that includes spending a night "in a murky chamber piled with severed bufflao heads, still bloody from the sacrifices of Dasain when hundred and eight beasts are ritually decapitated."

This book retells the tradition of the Kumaris,and alsothe way in which these Kumaris are selected. As these Kumaris are stripped of their status with the first shedding of the menstrual blood, there are a number of ex-kumaris who relive their experiences.

As usual the main atttraction of the Pocket Art series remains the wonderful postcards that form the bulk of the books. Andif the images appear a bit repetitive, well the kumaris have a strictly controlled pattern of life.

First Published: Jun 09, 2003 15:28 IST