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Kumari Puja marks Maha Asthami in Tripura

Agartala, Oct. 21 : At a time when aborting of female fetus hits the headlines, a five-year-old girl is being worshipped as the living embodiments of goddess Durga by the Ramakrishana Mission in Agartala.

Kumari or Kumari Devi is the tradition of worshipping young pre-pubescent Brahmin girls as manifestations of the divine female energy in the South Asian countries.

Kumari literally means virgin in Sanskrit.

The ritual of Kumari puja, a significant part of Maha Ashtami worship, was started in 1901 by Ramakrishna Math and Ramakrishna Mission (RMRM) founder Swami Vivekananda.

An unmarried girl, who has not yet reached puberty and is bereft of desire, worldly pleasures and anger, is selected for the ritual, which highlights the importance of women.

The ritual, preparation for the festival which started over two months ago, culminates in the girl being worshipped exactly as the sculpture of goddess Durga on the eighth day or Maha Asthami – the most auspicious of the five-day Durga puja festival.

At break of dawn, the Kumari was bathed, draped in a red sari, adorned with flowers and jewellery, with a ‘sindur (vermillion) tilak’ applied on her forehead.

The young Kumari fasts the whole day until the rituals are over. She is made to sit before the goddess’ idol on a decorated chair with priests chanting hymns and dhaak (traditional drum) being played in the background.

Kumari Basanti Chakraborty, a six-year child of Ramakrishna Shishu Tirtha School, was selected for Kumari Puja this year.

As per the religious belief, the divinity of the goddess descends into Kumari after the puja.

The goddess of universe reveled herself as a Kumari, maiden deity. Since the time Rig Veda this ritual of worship of Kumari is prevalent in India and according to Aranya, text of the Vedas, Devis should be worship as a Kumari or a maiden and there the name is Kanya Kumari.

There is no record as who started the Kumari Puja, but according to the Rig Veda from time immemorial it is prevalent in Hinduism in India. But the popularity of the Kumari Puja was from the time of Swami Viveananda, who breaking all religious shackle during his travel once even worshiped a Muslim girl child in Kashmir.

President of Ramkrishna Math, Tripura, Swami Hitakamananda said, mainly the sorcerer (black magicians) use to perform this but we also find its mention in the scripture of Vedic period.

“When the gods and goddess prayed for the incarnation of Devi Durga in the Earth, Brahma along with the gods and goddess saw a girl under a wood apple tree and from that Maa (mother) Durga is worshiped in the form of a virgin,” said Hitakamananda

“According to our ancient scriptures girl, the children between the age group of five to eight are selected,” he added.

Virgin worship can be performed on any day on Saptami, Asthami and Navami but generally it is performed on Asthami day.

Though largely restricted to the various centres of Ram Krishna Math, the kumari puja is also practised at a handful of other pandals in the country.

However, the precise ritualistic processes that need to be followed in observing the tradition, most say, is the reason why most person avoid performing the kumari puja.

According to this ritual of worship a virgin girl followed by the worshiping of Durga puja and it is very significant and resemblance the power of women and who can only give birth but today they are the most neglected.

“Every year, I come here to participate in the ritual of Kumari Puja where a girl child is worshiped. I really enjoyed the Kumari Puja,” said Aniket Chakraborty, a young visitor.

“For the last few years I have been coming here to see the Kumari Puja. We wait for the auspicious day of Asthami for this puja and so we came to see it along with few more from Gandhigram area and enjoyed here,” added another devotee Reba Das.

It is the ritualistic zeal with which goddess Durga is worshiped at Ram Krishna Math that sets the festivities apart from all others being performed simultaneously in the city.

Thousand of devotees gathered to see the ritual of the Kumari Puja.

Significantly, this mold is the most powerful form of Mahashakti which is the basis of all creations. (ANI)