Gorkhatimes

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Nepal’s Kumari sets date with Kolkata’s Durga

Posted by Ramesh Khati on August 15, 2009

Kumari The Living Goddess

Kumari The Living Goddess

Kathmandu, Aug 14 (IANS) Two years after one of Nepal’s Living Goddesses — the Kumaris — was sacked by her priests for travelling to the US, another Kumari will make her appearance in the Indian city Kolkata next month to keep a date with her counterpart, Devi Durga, the Hindu goddess of power.

However, the September appearance of the Kumari in Kolkata’s Manoharpukur area will not ruffle traditionalists.

Nepal Tourism Board and Nepal’s consulate in Kolkata have welcomed the move as a means to strengthen the cultural and religious ties between the two countries as well as help the Nepal government meet its target of wooing one million tourists in 2011.

The Tridhara Sammilani Club in Kolkata, established in 1947, the year India became independent, is one of the major organisers of the Durga Puja in the city, choosing a different cultural theme every year.

“This year, they are focusing on Nepal,” Nepal’s consul-general in Kolkata Suresh Man Shrestha told IANS.

Nepal’s historic, cultural and religious landmarks will be displayed in the puja pandal in Manoharpukur for a week from Sep 22, when the Durga Puja celebrations start.

One of the major attractions will be the spectacle of a young girl dressed up as Kumari, wearing a replica of the traditional crown the Living Goddess wears with a third eye painted on her forehead.

The Kumari will be kept company by a towering statue of Bhupatindra Malla, the 17th century king whose dynasty once held sway over Kathmandu valley and initiated the worship of the Kumari as the protector of the royal family.

Though Nepal formally abolished monarchy last year, the Kumari continues to be worshipped in this country, where she has several palaces still dedicated to her.

The Kolkata marquee will also display a replica of the Kumari’s palace as well as the temple of Hindu goddess Taleju Bhavani in Bhaktapur.

Taleju, a goddess of power like Durga, is regarded as the prototype of the Kumari, who displeased with the king, left him but then, moved by his entreaties, returned in the form of a prepubescent girl with holy signs.

Also on display will be an image of the magnificent Durbar Square of Bhaktapur, the seat of the Malla kings with its ornate peacock windows that testify to the awe-inspiring craftsmanship of the local artisans.

Though the hallowed Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu has not been included, the Kolkata puja celebrations will display another famed religious shrine from Nepal, the Buddhist Swayambhunath temple that dates back to 5th century AD and is revered by Hindus and Jains alike.

The Handicrafts Association of Nepal, Shrestha said, is in talks with Tridhara to discuss the possibility of setting up stalls with Nepali handicraft. There will also be stalls selling traditional Nepali food and cultural programmes.

The famed Gorkha warriors of Nepal, who hold a place of pride in both the Indian and British Armies, will also be given a tribute with nearly two dozen people dressed as Gorkha Brigade personnel parading in the pandal and invoking fresh interest in a community now known worldwide.

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