24th November 2011
Being sick gives you a good excuse to sleep in, rolling over for a breakfast of twix and cookies. However, if I had a choice I would rather be healthy and up early.
Buddha and I planned to make a run to get some DVD’s at the chinese market but stopped at Dhurbary Square on our way. This is where you can see the “Living Goddess” or Kumari. Tourists usually have to pay a fee to see her, but unfortunately she wasn’t in. The surrounding temples and square were stunning though.
Home of the Kumari
Stray dogs sleeping in the square
Kumari, or Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshiping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in Hindu religious traditions. The word Kumari, derived from Sanskrit Kaumarya meaning “virgin”, means young unmarried girls in Nepali and some Indian languages and is a name of the goddess Durga as a child.
In Nepal a Kumari is a pre-pubescent girl selected from the Shakya clan of the Nepalese Newari community. The Kumari is revered and worshiped by some of the country’s Hindus as well as the Nepali Buddhists, though not the Tibetan Buddhists. While there are several Kumaris throughout Nepal, with some cities having several, the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, and she lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city. The selection process for her is especially rigorous. The current Royal Kumari, Matina Shakya, aged four, was installed in October 2008 by the Maoist government that replaced the monarchy. Chanira Bajracharya, as the Kumari of Patan is the second most important living goddess.
A Kumari is believed to be the incarnation of the goddess until she menstruates, after which it is believed that the goddess vacates her body. Serious illness or a major loss of blood from an injury are also causes for her to revert to common status.
Eligible girls are Buddhists from the Newar Shakya caste (the clan to which the Buddha belonged) of silver and goldsmiths. She must be in excellent health, never have shed blood or been afflicted by any diseases, be without blemish and must not have yet lost any teeth. Girls who pass these basic eligibility requirements are examined for the battis lakshanas, or ‘thirty-two perfections’ of a goddess. Some of these are poetically listed as such:
-A neck like a conch shell
-A body like a banyan tree
-Eyelashes like a cow
-Thighs like a deer
-Chest like a lion
-Voice soft and clear as a duck’s
In addition to this, her hair and eyes should be very black, she should have dainty hands and feet, small and well-recessed sexual organs and a set of twenty teeth.
Once the priests have chosen a candidate, she must undergo yet more rigorous tests to ensure that she indeed possesses the qualities necessary to be the living vessel of Durga. Her greatest test comes during the Hindu festival of Dashain. On the kalratri, or ‘black night’, 108 buffaloes and goats are sacrificed to the goddess Kali. The young candidate is taken into the Taleju temple and released into the courtyard, where the severed heads of the animals are illuminated by candlelight and masked men are dancing about. If the candidate truly possesses the qualities of Taleju, she shows no fear during this experience. If she does, another candidate is brought in to attempt the same thing.
As a final test, the living goddess must spend a night alone in a room among the heads of ritually slaughtered goats and buffaloes without showing fear. The fearless candidate has proven that she has the serenity and the fearlessness that typifies the goddess who is to inhabit her. After passing all other tests, the final test is that she must be able to pick out the personal belongings of the previous Kumari from an assortment of things laid out before her. If she is able to do so, there is no remaining doubt that she is the chosen one.
(Courtesy of Wikipedia)
(Courtesy of: Travel and Tour Nepal)
Once the girl is no longer considered the Kumari, she can grow up to marry, however, its apparently a tough call to be man enough to marry a former Goddess…
Watching the people in the square was fascinating. The tourists with their cameras, the locals trying to sell their wears. But the most impressive were the people moving supplies, it was downright amazing at how big the loads were.
DVD’s and attack of the Tongan Parasites
Heading to Civil Mall, Buddha and I went to look for a new selection of DVD’s from the Chinese market. Buddha also bought me a cd with some Buddhist chants. As we were exploring I felt the urge to go. Of course the only place was a squatter loo. Now after 3yrs living in Korea this has never been a major inconvenience for me. However, I soon realised this was the monthly attack of the suspected parasites I might have picked up while in Tonga. This usually involves cramps, sweating, more cramps and is generally rather unpleasant. So trying to squat while your legs are rapidly turned to jello by severe cramping rapidly rendered my usual technique for squatters useless. So bracing myself with my hands on the walls I barely survived this wave.
Heading back to the mall feeling decidely light headed and weak the second wave threatened. Unloading my bags and the DVD’s onto Buddha I made a b-line for the mall that was thankfully in sight and, wonders of all wonders, had sit upon toilets. After wave 2 and 3, I felt…better or at least stable. Buddha, bless his heart, just carried my bag and waited without saying a word and just showing concern. I am really disliking this monthly gathering of the parasites…. We hung around the mall for abotu half an hour, just in case and then went to the doctor for my results.
Well the pee in a little bottle test confirmed it, a Urinary tract infection. So with a fistful of ciproflaxicin 500mg, twice a day for 10days, and the plan to drink a yoghurt lassi as every possible opportunity we headed back to the hotel. The doc said I might have to have another test after the antibiotics were done to be sure the UTI was gone, that would mean Germany.
After dropping off all the new items at the hotel, Buddha took me to a friend of his who sells bags and scarves and such in the Thamel region. I got a couple of scarves and some socks and he gave me a very good price. Then we went to the Buddha Bar. Nope it isn’t Buddha’s, although when he does open his own bar in a few years I think he should call it “Buddha’s Bar”, it has a nice ring to it.
The Buddha Bar has a really chill vibe, with low tables and lots of cushions so you sit on the floor. We had some drinks and some dinner and just as we were enjoying the vibe, 9pm struck and the music was turned up. I hate it when a place does that, thinking that it is now the party hour or something. We decided to call it a night, since I was still feeling under the weather, and headed back to the hotel.
So except for parasites attack, it was a great day. I am sorry to be leaving in less that a week.