She's worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal, who believe she's a reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga.Photo and text from the BBC.
I got to know the mother of this Kumari - Nepal has a few of them - after several visits to her house. How did it feel when her daughter, Samita, was chosen to be a Kumari, I asked?
"I felt both happy and sad," she says. "On one hand, I felt happy because when your daughter becomes god, having a god in the home is a delightful thing. But I also got scared because I wasn't sure if we would be able to follow all the rules."
There are many rules. For one, Samita's mother has to apply special makeup to her daughter's face in intricate designs. The girl isn't allowed to go outside except for festivals. On those occasions, her feet must not touch the ground. That means someone has to carry the young goddess...
I expect we'll do the interview in Nepali, but when I ask her a question, she starts speaking fluently in English. She tells me that she learned the language by reading newspapers during her Kumari days.
"When I was a goddess, I used to peek through the holes of windows," Chanira says. She's now a 19-year-old business student, and looks like any ordinary teenager in her fashionable green T-shirt and black trousers. She became a Kumari when she was just five years old...
This divine life ended abruptly when Chanira was 15, on the day she first menstruated. Suddenly she was no longer the Kumari. She says the transition was difficult. "When I had to step out of my house for the first time, I didn't know how to walk properly," she says. "My mom and dad, they used to hold my hands and teach me how to walk."
23 June 2014
A Nepalese "living goddess"