Mick Brown

Household Deities

The Living Goddess: A Journey into the Heart of Kathmandu


Eland 367pp £12.99 order from our bookshop

Is there a more poignant and intriguing religious tradition to be found anywhere in the world than that of the rouged and kohl-eyed Kumari, or Living Goddess of Nepal? A little girl, aged three or four, chosen by the gods, is taken from her family and enshrined in a residence in the heart of Kathmandu. The object of priestly rituals and veneration, she is looked after by specially chosen caretakers; her parents may visit her as supplicants, but never touch her, still less embrace her. She leaves the building only a dozen times a year to preside over religious festivals. In order to maintain her purity, her feet must never touch the ground; she is carried from the house by attendants and borne aloft around the city’s narrow, twisting streets in a hand-held palanquin.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • With our February issue about to go to press, enjoy a slice of LR history - Hilary Mantel on Joan Haslip's biograph… ,
    • What did London look like in the 6th Century? Rory Naismith's 'Citadel of the Saxons' tries to answer that questi… ,
    • Start your week with a dose of Russian Revolutionary zeal. Donald Rayfield reviews Tobie Mathew's 'Greetings From t… ,
    • A treat from the LR Archive: exactly 20 years ago, Malcolm Bradbury reviewed John Updike's 'Bech at Bay' ,
    • ‘When bullets come close, the noise they make as they go past changes from a zing to a crack’ John Lanchester's dy… ,
    • Man with a Bloody Paintbrush: Robin Simon on Lucian Freud ,
    • Jane Ridley reviews The Diaries of Kenneth Rose (ed. D R Thorpe) ,