Nepal’s ‘living goddess’ adjusts to life in the IT sector

Sri Lanka's Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe arrives with flowers to receive blessings at the Gangaramaya Buddhist Temple, Colombo, Sri Lanka on Wednesday 4 April 2018. On wednesday (4), Wickremesinghe survived a no-confidence motion in the Sri Lankan parliament with a 46 vote majority after a 12-hour debate with 122 MPs voted in his support while 76 MPs voting to remove the prime minister. (Photo by Tharaka Basnayaka/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

KATHMANDU, September 3, 2009 (AFP) – As a child, she was worshipped as a “living goddess” in Nepal after she proved her bravery in an ancient ritual by not crying at the sight of a sacrificed buffalo. But now Rashmila Shakya, 29, meets friends in cafes, listens to Bollywood music — and is building a promising career as a computer software developer.

Last year, Shakya became the first former “Kumari” goddess to graduate from college in Nepal, where the centuries-old practice of worshipping a young female as a deity survives.

The girls — chosen from a single ethnic group native to the Kathmandu Valley — spend their childhood living in isolation in a small palace, emerging only for feast days when they are paraded through the capital to be worshipped.

The selection criteria are strict. Priests say that to become a Kumari, a girl must have an unblemished body, a chest like a lion and thighs like a deer.

Even if they fulfil all the physical requirements, aspiring Kumaris must prove they can sit in a room with a buffalo carcass without crying as a test of their bravery.

Shakya, who was selected aged just four and spent eight years living in the Kumari’s palace in central Kathmand