Nepal's living Goddess clears matriculation exams

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Lalitpur (Nepal), July 4 (ANI): Chanira Bajracharya, Nepal's 'Living Goddess', has become the first sitting deity to pass a school leaving exam, setting her on course for a career in banking.

Fifteen-year-old Bajracharya, also called Kumari, was among nearly half a million students who took the exams here in March. The results were declared late on Friday (July 2).

"I am really happy, I have passed with distinction," Bajracharya said on Sunday.

Bajracharya has already scored high marks among devotees in the ancient town of Patan, south of capital Kathmandu, where she rides in decorated chariots 18 times a year during Hindu and Buddhist festivals.

She has been Kumari of Patan for nine years now.

Relatives and friends gathered outside Bajracharya's red brick house to greet the Kumari.

Bajracharya, who has a third eye painted on her forehead, wanted to take up commerce or accounting, and work in the banking sector.

"I want to study management and want to join the banking sector," said Bajracharya.

Her tutors said they feel proud of her.

"Our school is proud to be associated with Chanira. We are really happy. This is the first time a living Goddess Kumari passed SLC (School-Leaving Certificate) examination," said Nanvat, Bajracharya's teacher.

Former Kumaris, considered incarnations of the Hindu goddess Kali, have gone on to work or married after they retired from Godhood, which is usually at the onset of puberty.

Girls from Nepal's Newar community are chosen by Buddhist priests to serve as 'living goddesses', and confined to temples in the three ancient cities of the Kathmandu valley.

Critics say the centuries-old tradition denies them a normal life and leaves them unprepared to face real life after retirement.

Two years ago, Nepal's Supreme Court ordered the government to ensure basic healthcare and education for the Kumaris.

Earlier this week, the Nepalese government raised the maintenance allowance provided to the Kumari and said it would bear the expenses for her education. (ANI)

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