- By Joshua Keating
Joshua Keating is associate editor at Foreign Policy and the editor of the Passport blog. He has worked as a researcher, editorial assistant, and deputy Web editor since joining the FP staff in 2007. In addition to being featured in Foreign Policy, his writing has been published by the Washington Post, Newsweek International, Radio Prague, the Center for Defense Information, and Romania's Adevarul newspaper. He has appeared as a commentator on CNN International, C-Span, ABC News, Al Jazeera, NPR, BBC radio, and others. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he studied comparative politics at Oberlin College.
What’s a girl to do when she’s not a living goddess anymore? Apparently aim for a career in finance:
Chanira Bajracharya, 15, has been the Kumari or “living goddess” of Patan, an ancient town south of Kathmandu, for nine years, blessing devotees at the temple and riding in decorated chariots 18 times a year during Hindu and Buddhist festivals.
Now, with her time as living goddess drawing to a close — the young virgin deities retire on reaching puberty — Bajracharya is contemplating a career in banking if she makes grades good enough to study commerce or accounting.
Last week she became the first living goddess ever to take the school leaving certificate examination, which was administered to her in her temple, which is housed in her home.
“I want to study commerce or accounting and be engaged in the banking sector,” she told Reuters in a rare interview, dressed in her ceremonial costumes, her eyes rimmed in black kohl and a third eye painted in the middle of her forehead.
Despite the attention, being a goddess doesn’t sound like much fun. Bajracharya isn’t allowed to attend school or mingle with other children and says she has no friends her age. She receives only about $20 a month for her services. A Nepalese Supreme Court order in 2008 forced the temple to provide the Kumaris with education and medical care.
Hopefully Bajracharya makes it through school and into the career of her choice. She’s certainly earned it and the global banking sector could use a little divine intervention these days.