Nepal’s Child Goddesses – Taleju

Posted on January 2, 2007

For long, a few lucky(?) pre-pubescent girls in Nepal, the last Officially Hindu Country on the planet, have been put on a pedestal and worshipped.

Taleju Temple

The girls hail from the Newar community of Kathmandu Valley. These Buddhist girls are chosen after their first milk tooth falls to represent the Hindu Goddess Taleju till they begin to menstruate. Legend has it that this practice started during the 17th-century reign of Kathmandu’s King Pratap Malla. Legend has it that the king used to play dice in secret with the goddess Taleju. One night, when lustful thoughts entered the king’s mind, Taleju vanished. Later, she appeared to the king in a dream and told him to select a young Buddhist girl who would bless the king with the strength to rule. Ever since, every year, during the Indra Jatra festival, the reigning monarch receives the auspicious tika on his forehead from the principal Kumari and takes her sword in a ritual that is believed to give the king the power to rule for another year.

So why would somebody not want to be a goddess? Well, the salary is low, the education received is meagre, and the worst part is that the girls have a tough time adjusting to normal life once their Goddess days are over. The practice that has been a symbolic bond between the Hindus and Buddhists of Nepal is now facing a legal challenge. With the end of the Hindu Monarchy and the advent of democracy in Nepal, the very question of Nepal continuing to be an official Hindu nation is in question, and it won’t be surprising if this practice gets banned.

What intrigued me most was that I have never heard of a Goddess named “Taleju” – have you? A quick google search revealed a temple, but the page was in German.

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10 Comments so far
  1. Rupa Abdi April 3, 2008 9:05 pm

    It is said that soon after his enlightenment the Buddha passed a man on the road who was struck by the Buddha’s extraordinary radiance and peaceful presence.

    The man stopped and asked, “My friend, what are you? Are you a celestial being or a god?”

    “No,” said the Buddha.

    “Well, then, are you some kind of magician or wizard?”

    Again the Buddha answered, “No.”

    “Are you a man?”

    “No.”

    “Well, my friend, then what are you?”

    The Buddha replied, “I am awake.”

  2. vikram June 12, 2011 2:31 pm

    taleju bhavani is originaly the goddes tulaja bhavani from maharashtra of India,her temple is in tuljapur district and she is a very famous goddess among a large part of india.the kings who moved to other parts of India and Nepal acrried her with them,so in Nepal she is known as Taleju bhavani.
    even in tuljapur she used to go at a devotees place for playing dice,similarly in nepal also she used to go to king Malla for playing Dice…Taleju is just another form of goddess Durga and she is one of the powerful and most worrshipped goddesses in hinduism

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