You will discover living, breathing goddesses in Nepal. Called Kumaris, these goddesses are prepubescent young girls believed to be the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga.
The Kumaris, however, is worshiped by both of them Hindus and Buddhists. The process of selecting the Kumaris is a centuries-old culture that continues to this day.
In 2017 and 2018, photographer Maria Contreras Coll went to Nepal to meet and photograph each current and former Kumaris.
Coll provided insight a little more background on her project, such as a bit more on the history of the Kumari. Contreras Coll states that the tradition has occurred for at least the past 300 years, during which a succession of girls continues to be chosen to become living goddesses.
And while there is more than one Kumari, based on Contreras Coll, the primary ones come from Patan and Kathmandu, both located in the Kathmandu Valley. Contreras Coll says
“Chosen from . . . 3 to 6 years of age from the Newari community, the Kumari is limited inside a temple. Their relations and a private teacher are the only ones who can talk to them so they are not permitted to touch the ground with their feet. In the Nepalese tradition, menstrual blood is seen as something polluted, and thus, non-divine. Even for a Goddess, menstruation means exclusion and a change of life .”
The Kumari ceases to be a living goddess, based on Contreras Coll, “the day she has her first period .”