Monday, 16 November 2009

Tom Van Cakenberghe: The Living Goddess

Tom Van Cakenberghe is originally from Antwerp, Belgium and lives in Kathmandu, Nepal since 2004 and works as a press photographer.

His website brings us a number of galleries on Nepal, but most interesting to me is The Living Goddess photo gallery...where he captured luminous (and candid) images of the Kumari. He must have been granted special access to be able to make these images. There's no further information on his gallery, but the best known is the Royal Kumari of Kathmandu, who lives in the Kumari Ghar, a palace in the center of the city.

Worshiping a pre-pubescent girl, who is not a born goddess, as the source of supreme power is an old Hindu-Buddhist tradition in Nepal.

The traditions of the Vajrayana sect of Mahayana Buddhism, girls 4-7 years old, who belong to the Nepali Sakya community, and have an auspicious horoscope, are chosen on the basis of 32 attributes of perfection. Among these are the color of eyes, shape of teeth and voice quality.

There are further Hindu-Buddhist rituals that follow which finally determine the real Kumari.