The Kumari and The King

Yesterday was fairly routine, though never dull, until we arrived in the Durbar Square in central Kathmandu, where the final night of the Indra Jatra festival was going on.
We’d missed the giant carts being pulled through the streets earlier in the day (though we waded through the packed streets in search of sustenance), but at around 10pm we joined the massive crowd waiting outside the home of the Kumari. The Kumari, a 10-year-old girl (or so) is believed to be a living goddess, so being able to see her is an extremely big deal. In one way the biggest dignitary there was the Prime Minister, since he had broken with tradition by going to see the Kumari, although the crowd certainly reacted much more strongly when the beleaguered Nepali King “became a commoner” to see the Kumari. Then everyone else is allowed, in cramped crazy queue fashion, to see her one-by-one, receiving her blessing in the traditional form of the tikka (wet colored powder placed on the forehead, symbolizing the awakening of one’s third eye).
At times the revelry nearly turned to riot, as there was intense pushing by the crowd, surrounded by a heavy police presence. Machine-gun toting guards and the riot squad were both there, but all and all things were calm, with the main exception being that many a Maoist yelled at the king when he quickly emerged from the house of the Kumari, before escaping into a SUV. From our Western perspective it wasn’t the most exciting event, but with only 51 days before Nepal is due to have a historic election, this might have been the last time the Nepali King sees the Kumari in his current political and religious role. Plus, our brief second of King-spotting was exciting, in that ridiculous sort of way, and the sekuwa (kebab) meat we had, though served over puffed rice, was quite delicious!
The job search is progressing, we have an interview with a school tomorrow, and more presumably on the way very soon, so hopefully we’ll get to “have to” choose between a couple good options!
Peace
A&E

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