Nepali Goddess Retires at 11

Kumari briefly deposed last year after traveling abroad
By Caroline Zimmerman,  Newser User
Posted Mar 3, 2008 12:35 PM CST

(Newser) – Sajani Shakya, one of Nepal's living goddesses, is officially retiring at age 11, the AP reports. Religious leaders briefly stripped the Kumari of her divine status last year after she defied custom and traveled abroad, but her premature retirement isn't related to the controversy, officials say. She has "come of age," an official put it delicately. Kumaris are worshiped only until puberty.

Kumaris are selected as toddlers for their beauty—they must have perfect skin and teeth—and are worshiped at temples, where devotees touch their foreheads to a kumari's feet. Shakya sparked a fuss when she went to the US to attend the premiere of a documentary on this Hindu and Buddhist tradition. Now the search is on to find a replacement.