KATHMANDU, Nepal – A 3-year-old girl became Nepal's new living goddess Thursday, revered by both Hindus and Buddhists in the Himalayan nation.
Trishna Shakya was carried in a religious ceremony to a temple palace in the heart of the Nepalese capital where she is to live until just before puberty.
She was among four finalists from the Shakya clan for the position of living goddess, called "Kumari."
A panel of Hindu priests took days to select her after checking her horoscope and searching for physical imperfections. As a goddess she should not have any physical flaws.
"It is our tradition that after the living goddess reaches age 12 we have to find a new one and the search begins. We have to make sure that the goddess is suitable to bring good fortune for the country," said Gautam Shakya, a priest in the panel.
"We have found our new Kumari," he said.
Hundreds of followers and devotees lined up to get a glimpse of the girl, dressed in a red dress and covered with flower garlands.
Before she left her house in Kathmandu, people lined up to give her chocolates, eggs, sweets and fruits.
The head priest came in a car and took her to the temple palace, where she was carried in after a visiting surrounding temples.
Her family said they were emotional that their daughter was leaving but also proud.
"She is going to be the living goddess. She is just not our daughter but the living goddess of the whole country," said Bijaya Ratna Shakya, her father. "I am happy but at the same time I feel like crying."
Soon after Trishna's arrival at the temple palace, her predecessor, 12-year-old Matina Shakya, left from a rear entrance on a palanquin carried by her family and supporters.
The ceremony took place on the eighth day of the two-week-long Dasain festival, the main festival in Nepal.