This World – The Goddess and The King
Nepal is situated between “two tigers” – India and China, and is experiencing a period of limbo, being neither a republic nor a respected monarchy. There had been 15 years of Civil War in Nepal, until there was a military coup in 2003. The King was in charge of the army and ordered many atrocities. Since that time, he has never been forgiven and many, including the Prime Minister had been asking for his abdication. King Gyanendra has no powers, palace nor powers.
This World examined how the Royal living Goddess (Kumari) and the King are interlinked in Nepal. Spiritually, it is important for the King to receive the blessing of the Royal Goddess so that the House of Shah can continue to rule. Once a year, the Royal Kumari blesses the King in the temple by placing a red symbol on his forehead (a tika).
The Royal Kumari is believed to be a living goddess rather than a child and is respected by both Hindus and Buddhists . She is 9 years of age and has held the position since the age of 4 (taken from her family). Unlike her sister, she is not allowed to walk or play freely and is transported around (her feet should not touch the ground). There are a number of living Goddesses but only one is Royal. Each Goddess needs to beautiful (without any deformities or marks) and believable as a Goddess. There have been calls for the process to be abolished as it was thought to be cruel to a child (many being uneducated).
In Nepal, there is peace but chaos and many would like to have elections. Many of the people want changes and development of the country. This year the King was not expected to attend the annual ceremony.
On the night in question, the Prime Minister turns up at the Temple and receives the tika – this is the first time in history that it has happened. Braving the crowd, the King turned up and also received a tika. Nepal again was left in limbo as the elections were postponed once more.