Growing Up Sexually


NEWAR (Nepal)




“In Nepal, selected young girls are installed as living goddesses and worshipped as such for many years. The Kumari institution must be understood in the context of the particular symbolic potential of virgin worship in the politics of the Newari kingdoms of Kathmandu, Patan and Bhaktapur. In royal rituals, the deity Taleju was venerated as the source of the king’s power. The worship of this goddess was however directed at her earthly manifestation -- a young prepuberty girl selected from the Buddha Margi Bare jats of Sakya or Vajracharya. The selected Kumari stays in a special house close to the palace where she is entertained until menstruation. The Kumari is a very apt symbol of purity as well as of the promise of future fertility and prosperity.[…] The rites of barha(keeping the girl child in a dark room out of sight from sunlight and the male members of the society for 12 days) and ihi(mock-marriage of the girls to Surya Narayan “Sun God”) for girls are performed before the girls start menstruating. So these rites for girls also take place when they are between 5 to 9 years of age and performed in groups to reduce the expense” (Gurung, p64-5, 105)[1].







Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Oct. 2004


[1] Gurung, P. (July 2000) Bungamati: The life world of a Newar Community explored through the natural and social life of water.

Thesis submitted for the partial fulfilment of M. Phil Degree in Social Anthropology with emphasis on Human Ecology, Faculty of Social Science, University of Bergen, Norway []