Mortal Again

"What I liked most was to make people happy", says an 11-year-old Unika in her new room in Patan, Kathmandu. After having been the Living Goddess of Nepal for more than 5 years, she was replaced the day she had her first period, in February 2018.

During the past 300 years, a succession of small girls have been chosen to become a Nepal's living goddess, worshiped for both Hinduists and Buddhists. The most important ones are the Kumari of Kathmandu and of Patan, both in the Kathmandu Valley. Chosen from the 3 to 6 years of age from the Newari community, they are confined inside a temple. Their relatives and a private teacher are the only ones who can talk to them and they are not allowed to touch the ground with their feet. In the Nepalese culture, menstrual blood is seen as something polluted, and thus, non-divine. Even for a Goddess, menstruation means exclusion and a change of life.

"It takes at least one year to be used to it", says Samita, a 16-year-old former Kumari. "You are a Goddess, and from one day to another, you're just a normal person learning how to take the bus". Simple things like going to school can seem overwhelming at first. For the first time in their lives, they will have to mingle with other kids and learn to live like a mortal.

*This project was possible thanks to by Click Grant 2018, organized by the Generalitat de Catalunya and Diomira.