Imagine being plucked from birth and forbidden from walking until puberty? Sounds horrific, right? Well, in Nepal it’s something of a religious tradition for the Nepalese child deities who are locked away in temples until they reach their teens.
Women have had something of a raw deal when it comes to a lot of religions. If they’re not universally loathed for being devious harlots or treacherous jezebels, they’re idealized, put on a pedestal and worshipped for being passive, iconic and representative of a higher power.
Take, for instance, the bizarre world of Nepalese child deities, or to give them their correct title, Kumaris.
Kumaris, which means virgin in Nepalese, are pre-pubescent girls who are handpicked from an early age because they are deemed to be living incarnations of the Hindu Goddess of Power, Kali.
These Nepalese child deities are considered to be flesh and blood goddesses who can protect their people from great evil.
The Nepalese child deities are worshipped by thousands of Hindus and Buddhists who believe they are vessels for the divine.
Now, while being worshiped and considered holier than thou may sound great to a narcissist with a Kardashian sized ego, to these Westernized eyes, it would appear that life ain’t so great for the Nepalese child deities.
After being snatched from an extremely young age by a holy man who’s convinced he can see the goddess in them, the Nepalese child deities have immortal-like status thrust upon them.
Except there’s nothing immortal in it. The early years of these Nepalese child deities is predictably human, or as that famous grumpy German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche would say after a spot of god killing, ‘all too human.’
Forced to leave their homes and families, the Nepalese child deities are condemned to grow up in a temple, which can’t be good for anyone’s mental health, let alone someone who is repeatedly told they are the incarnation of a divine being.
To make matters worse, the Nepalese child deities are forced to live in isolated seclusion. They are banned from routine things you associate children with doing, such as going to school and participation in everyday society.
In fact, the Nepalese child deities are only allowed to leave their temples on the 13 days of the year that require a religious festival or procession.
And guess who the objects of worship are on such days? You got it, the Nepalese child deities.
If all the aforesaid was not enough to turn the most the most stable and grounded mind into a fertile breeding ground for neurosis, messiah complexes and multiple personality disorders, the Nepalese child deities are even considered too special to walk because their feet are too holy to touch the ground.
Instead, the Nepalese child deities are carried everywhere in chariots, thrones, and other people’s arms on a road clearly sign-posted ‘Good Intentions.’
Yet, after messing with these children’s development in a big way and denying them the god-given right to be independently mobile and have some good old fashioned childish fun, it gets worse.
After menstruation begins, the Nepalese child deities are tossed aside like a sack of moldy potatoes and basically told, “You’re no longer a goddess, now do one.”
The Nepalese child deities are put through a 12-day ‘Gufa’ ritual, after which their life as a Kumari is over for all eternity.
The teenagers who were once religiously regarded as Nepalese child deities are then expected to return to an ordinary life they have no experience or knowledge of. Child deities? It sounds more like child cruelty.
And thus the ‘fairy-tale’ ends.