The Cult of Kumari: Virgin Worship in Nepal Author:
Kathmandu, Newar Buddhist girls as young as two years old are selected to become living incarnations of the Hindu goddess Taleju. Called 'Kumaris', the children are worshiped daily by both priests and laity and until some sign of imperfection appears, most commonly with the onset of menstruation, they are required to live in accordance with a rigorous code of purity maintenance. In this book Dr. Alien provides a detailed ethnographic account of all of the principal manifestations of this remarkable form of worship. The book is a substantially revised and enlarged edition of a monograph first published in 1975 by the Institute of Nepal and Asian Studies, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal. The then Dean of the Institute, Dr. Prayag Raj Sharma, described the book as "the most comprehensive study yet undertaken on the cult of the Kumari. Dr. Alien has ... succeeded not only in compiling much data on the subject for the first time, but has also tried to show the deep significance of the cult for the socio-religious life of the people of the Kathmandu Valley." The book has been out of print for many years and Dr. Alien has in this new edition included much additional contemporary material, including 46 beautiful plates. The Cult of Kumari provides material of great interest to scholars of South Asian religion and society, to students of gender and women's studies and to all those who have visited Nepal and wondered greatly at the strange lives of these young girls worshiped as living goddesses.