Print Edition - 2014-12-28 | Nation
Bhaktapur living goddess survives on meagre Rs 450
- monthly allowance
Dec 27, 2014-The living goddess in Bhaktapur, Ekantakumari, and the priests who work at the nearby Taleju Temple, have said they want an increase in their monthly allowances. According to Narendra Prasad Joshi, head priest of the temple, that amount—which is disbursed by the temple’s guthi (trust)—has remained the same for 30 years.
The monthly allowances come to Rs 450 for the Kumari and of Rs 100 for ex-Kumaris.
“The salary of civil servants, such as khardars, have reached Rs 16,000 per month, from Rs 450 thirty years ago, but the Kumari and the others here have not seen a similar increase,” said Joshi.
Junisha Shakya the present Ekantakumari, comes from a pretty well-off family (her father is a gold merchant) and thus her family have been willing to bear the costs that come with being a Kumari. “Every puja, we have to spend around Rs50,000 for the feast. We spend it from our own pocket, we are not getting any assistance from Guthi,” said Juju Ratna Shakya, father of Junisha.
According to cultural experts, historical and cultural importance of Ekantakumari is higher than Kumaris in Kathmandu and Lalitpur.
“Jay Prakash Malla had first established the worshipping goddess in Bhaktapur, it was then followed in Kathmandu, later when Prithvi Narayan Shah invaded Kathmandu and made it Nepal’s kingdom. This kept Bhaktapur in shadows,” said Om Dhaubhadel, cultural export, adding. “Having this historical and cultural value, the Kumari of Bhaktapur must be given more facilities than Kathmandu.”
Ram Mani Bhattarai, executive chief of Bhaktapur Municipality, says the concerned stakeholders should work on this issue. “The responsibility lies with Guthi. The municipality has nothing to do with the allowance that is being provided to Kumari,” he said.
Unlike in Kathmandu, Ekantakumari need not stay at Kumari Ghar (home of living goddess) throughout the year. She can go to her family home after spending 12-15 days at Kumari Ghar during Dashain festival.
The Kathmandu Metropolitan City this year announced Rs 10,000 in monthly allowances on top of other facilities to Kumaris. The living goddess in Lalitpur gets around Rs 4,000.
Nhuchhe Ratna Shakya, who doubles up on duty as helper of the Kumari and priest, says Guthi provides him a monthly sum of Rs 1,300 which is insufficient for performing puja. “I spent more than Rs 3,000 a month to buy ingredients for puja. If the allowances are not increased, we will be forced to stop the puja rituals,” he said.
Published: 28-12-2014 10:19