Thursday, March 19, 2015

Kumari Puja: When a Girl becomes a Goddess

On the Ashtami or the eighth day of Navratri, Kumari Puja is held in honour of Durga. A girl is worshiped as an avatar of Devi. The Kumari Puja has different forms depending on where it is celebrated. Generally speaking, the chosen girl is seated on the throne reserved for the deity and wrapped in a red Chunri.

In India, there are traces of a cult of the virgin worship since medieval ages. The Kumari is worshiped for a day, which usually lasts a couple of hours. One of the most notable and famous Kumari Puja is held at Belur Math near Kolkata.

On the morning of the Ashtami or sometimes on a ninth day of Durga Puja, the girl is bathed in the river. She is dressed in a red Banarasi saree. She is then adorned with flowers, jewels and a red bindi on the forehead. The Kumari fasts throughout the day until the ceremony is over. She sits on a decorated chair in front of the goddess with a flower in her hands.

With the sound of dhak filling the air, the priest then begins to recite his prayers. Throughout the ceremony, it is considered that Durga comes and resides in the Kumari. It is considered propitious for the Kumari to be gifted with gold, silver and clothing. After the ceremony sweet water is offered to the Kumari with which she breaks fast.

After the age of sixteen a girl can no longer access the rite. Kumari is the Sanskrit from of virgin adolescents who are celebrated during the Kumari Puja. It is embodied by a young living goddesses and is venerated by Indians. For the ceremony, the chosen Kumari must have the perfect hair, eyes, teeth and skin with no scars. The child must meet very specific characteristics and must have the 32 perfections.

The criteria of selection is difficult to interpret and in fact it requires that she has no physical defects, she is beautiful, she has no blood loss, and has no injury or scars. But the most important tests of character type, in fact is that the Kumari should not cry. She should not show herself disinterested or restless, nor must move during the rites.

To assess the strength of character there is one last ordeal. During the festival of Dashain or Dussehra, in Kalratri, the young candidates have to sleep in a darkened room among the heads of goats and 108 buffaloes sacrificed in honor of Kali. Masked men as demons that try to scare them. The child who resists is definitely the Goddess. Once a Kumari has been chosen, the priests proceed with a series of secret rituals to cleanse her body and her spirit.

At this point she is dressed and made up as a Kumari. She is brought into the temples to her new home, where she will stay for the whole period in which she will be possessed by the Goddess Durga.

The celebration brings together believers from around the country to pay homage and be infused with positive energy and good luck from the virgin girl adorned in beautiful red dresses and gold. The Kumari Puja is widely held during the Durga Puja in Bengal and in Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square in Kathmandu.

The Kumari Puja is a ceremony which also includes the deflowering of chosen few virgins. The ceremony takes place at Kanya Kumari in a temple of Cape Comorin in southern India. The expression Veshya Kumarika literally means virgin prostitutes and is a title given to women who participate in the kula ritual.

Among these are the woman who undress and joins sexually at first with the priest who celebrates the rite and later receives the male seed of a worshiper who repeatedly kisses her yoni and her forehead.


kalaiselvisblog said...

Its a wonderful post Kalyan..

In our place 2, we do kumari pooja by placing 7 or 9 girls during Tamil month "Aadi" (last half of July to first half of August). Its called "Aadipuram" to Godess Abirami.

Ash said...

Happy Dussera to you and your loved ones!