Nepal: The Newest Goddess

One day last week in Katmandu, capital of the kingdom of Nepal, the goddess Kumari burst into tears. She begged her mother to take her home from the big white plastered brick house behind the old city palace—home from the priests and the prayers, the worshipers, handmaidens and other perquisites of divinity. For the life of a goddess is a strange and painful thing—especially when one is only four years old.

She is young for good reason. Hindu and Buddhist tradition decree that Nepal's living goddess Kumari (meaning virgin) may never shed blood in herself or another; obviously, she must be...

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