The worship of young virgin girls as goddesses in the secular state of Nepal

Guest lecture by Michael Allen, Emeritus Professor, Dept. of Anthropology, University of Sydney

In this lecture I intend to focus on some of the current debates in Nepal concerning the worship of young virgin girls as living forms of the goddess Kumari. At the heart of these debates is the issue of just what weight should be given to religious beliefs, practices and morals, in this case both Hindu and Buddhist, in what is now constitutionally a federal democratic republic formally committed to the propagation of predominantly secular ideals. Yet, prior to the success of the Maoist-led revolution in 2006, Nepal had been a Hindu monarchy of an orthodox kind in which the divine King and the virgin goddess were the twin pillars that together gave legitimacy to the state. My lecture concludes with some brief insights into just how both the goddess and the state survive today without their king - albeit somewhat precariously so.

All are welcome!

Time: 23 May, 1-3 pm

Venue: NIAS, Leifsgade 33, 3rd floor, 2300 Copenhagen S

The lecture is organized jointly by Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) and Contemporary India Study Centre Aarhus (CISCA)