1-7 May 2015 #756

Thanking the Living Goddess for life

“If the reigning Kumari assured us about our safety, we knew that we would not be hurt”
Min Ratna Bajracharya

When the earth started shaking on Saturday just before noon, the family of the Living goddess of Patan had just finished their meal and were sitting together. When the first jolt came, like all other residents of the city, the family started screaming and wanted to run out in panic.

But the 7-year-old Living Goddess, Yunika Bajracharya who was sitting on her ceremonial altar, told them to calm down and not to rush out of the building. “She had her eyes closed as if she was in a trance, told us nothing would happen to us,” the goddess’ father Ramesh Bajracharya recalled.

7-year-old Living Goddess Yunika Bajracharya

The floor of the house rocked violently, the house rattled loudly and the family huddled together, and prayed for protection. When the tremors stopped, the Ramesh Bajracharya lit the votive lamps and joined his daughter, the Goddess, in meditation and prayer.

“We knew that if the Kumari Majhu told us nothing would happen to us, nothing would happen to us,” Ramesh Bajracharya told us, “and indeed we were all safe in that room because of her faith.”

When the aftershocks came, the family was worried even less because they felt the worse was over. “If the big earthquake couldn’t destroy the building, we were confident that the smaller aftershocks would not harm us at all.” Indeed, while other temples and buildings on Mahapal Street of Patan came crashing down during the quake, the Kumari Temple did not even lose a tile from its roof. Similarly, while four major temples in Kathmandu Darbar Square were razed to the ground, the temple of the Kathmandu Kumari also survived completely unscathed.

The families of the previous Kumaris who also reside in the courtyard did not run away to a safer places. “If the reigning Kumari assured us about our safety, we knew that we would not be hurt,” said the mother of a previous Kumari.

On Wednesday, I went to offer my thanks to the Kumari for my own close escape when I got nearly thrown off my own balcony during the shaking. When the earthquake struck, I had grabbed my camera, turned off the gas and run down with my wife and son to Macchendra Bahal. When we came back, we saw that the balcony where I was a moment ago was swaying precariously.

Read also:

Giving to the living

Shaking things up, Editorial

Langtang is gone, Sahina Shrestha

Monumental loss, Stéphane Huët

Mapping the aftermath, Ayesha Shakya

Microcosm of a calamity, Cynthia Choo and Sonia Awale

Teacher's tragedy, Cynthia Choo

Coming out stronger from crisis, Anjana Rajbhandary

Believe it, or not, Tsering Dolker Gurung

A slow start, David Seddon

The earthquake from above, Kunda Dixit

Surviving trauma, Anjana Rajbhandary

In photos: Nepal Earthquake, Bikram Rai

Preparing to be prepared, Kunda Dixit