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By Achal Narayanan
Religion News Service

Chennai, India – The appointment of a new “living goddess” in Nepal has been held up by the recent abolition of the Hindu monarchy in the Himalayan nation, according to Nepalese officials.
Traditionally, the palace priest appoints the girl, who is chosen in her infancy and is treated as a Kumari, or goddess, until puberty. But the priest no longer has any authority in the newly proclaimed secular republic, the head of the trust overseeing the tradition says.
A six-year-old girl was recently selected by a religious panel as the “living goddess” in the temple town of Bhaktapur, near the capital of Kathmandu.
The head of the trust overseeing the Kumari tradition told the BBC that because the royal priest no longer has any role in the matter, the chairman of the trust’s board will have to decide who would approve the new living goddess.
The previous Kumari, 11-year-old Sajani Shakya, was one of the three most revered Kumaris in Nepal until she was abruptly retired in March.
Last summer she was nearly sacked from her position after traveling to the United States to promote a new documentary about the Kumaris of Nepal. After threatening to strip the girl of her title, Nepalese authorities later agreed to a “cleansing” ceremony.
Copyright 2008 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

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