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The Living Goddess

Kumari Devi

In the Director’s office hangs a hand-carved banyan wood frame with a picture of Mt. Everest. The frame is a replica of the main window on the palace of Kumari – the living goddess – in Kathmandu, Nepal. On very special days her supporters can visit the palace and, upon making a personal donation, obtain a glimpse of the goddess through the window.  This is considered a blessing.

When the Patterson School receives a private gift, a somewhat similar ritual occurs.   The Director will place a photograph of Kumari in the wooden frame, with Everest still visible over her shoulder. The towering Mt. Everest reflects our students’ lofty goals; her presence announces that our program has once again benefited from the kindness and generosity of our supporters.

Visitors frequently pop into the Director’s office just to see whether Kumari is “making an appearance.” They know her secret. When students spot her picture they often beam, and laugh. They know it is a very special day.

Your gifts make our students feel blessed.

Facts about the Kumari Devi

For centuries there has been a royal living goddess in Kathmandu. She resides in the Kumari Ghar, an ornate palace near Durbar Square. The Kumari is chosen from eligible 4 to 7 year old Buddhist girls belonging to the Newar Shakya caste (the group to which Buddha belonged) and serves until puberty.

Selection criteria include, proper serenity, composure and excellent health, as well as the “32 perfections of a goddess,” which range from possessing beautiful cow-like eyelashes to having a voice as soft as a duck. During her holy life, all the Kumari’s needs are met and her feet will never touch the ground.

The Kumari’s power is believed to be so strong that even a glimpse of her brings good fortune. Visitors often gather in the palace courtyard, hoping to spot her through its upper-story latticed windows.


Patterson School | 455 POT, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0027 | 859-257-4666

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