Friday, July 20, 2007

Living Goddess Gets Temporary Reprieve

Here's the original story. News today: Nepal reviews 'Living Goddess' decision By BINAJ GURUBACHARYA, Associated Press Writer Fri Jul 20, 3:38 PM ET KATMANDU, Nepal - Nepalese authorities are reviewing their decision to revoke a 10-year-old girl's "living goddess" title after she broke tradition by traveling overseas, an official said Friday, following a rapturous welcome on her return. Sajani Shakya, who traveled to the United States last month to promote a documentary about the centuries-old tradition of Nepal's living goddesses, was met on her return home Wednesday by hundreds of supporters. They took her to the temple where she is worshipped in the capital, Katmandu, and held a brief ceremony to welcome her back. "We are consulting with elders, priests, and culture experts on whether it was appropriate for the living goddess to break tradition and leave on a trip," said Jaiprasad Regmi, chief of the government trust that manages the affairs of the living goddesses. He declined to comment further, but popular support for Sajani could have forced officials to review the case. Sajani is one of the top three "kumaris," or living goddesses, in Nepal. Living goddesses are worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists. The girls are selected between the ages of 2 and 4 after going through several tests. They are required to have perfect skin, hair, eyes and teeth, and should not be afraid of the dark. They wear red, pin up their hair in topknots and have a "third eye" painted on their forehead. Devotees touch the girls' feet with their foreheads, the highest sign of respect among Hindus in Nepal. During religious festivals the girls are wheeled around on a chariot pulled by devotees. Living goddesses usually keep their title until they reach puberty.

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