SC seeks govt’s stance on Kumari tradition

Kathmadu, March 6:

A three-member panel formed by the Supreme Court last year submitted its report on

the Kumari tradition in the Kathmandu valley last week but a member of the study team yesterday questioned the report’s credibility.

The court then sought an explanation from the Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation (MoCTCA) and joint-secretary of the ministry and the coordinator of the three-member study team, Jal Krishna Shrestha, over the issue.

The bench has directed the ministry and the study team to clarify over the row and also forward their actual position on the Kumari tradition.

The apex court order came in response to a Public Interest Litigation filed on May 6, 2005 by advocate Pun Devi Maharjan seeking the apex court order to the government authorities to protect rights of the Kumaris, who are considered ‘Living Goddesses’.

Advocate Pun Devi Maharjan, a member of the study team, said the team coordinator Jal Krishna did not consult the other two members while preparing the report and that she did not subscribe to the document. Culture expert Dr Chunda Bajracharya was the third member of the study team. Maharjan, who has lodged a complaint against the report, yesterday told the division bench of justices Min Bahadur Rayamajhi and Anup Raj Sharma that she did not approve of the report.

“Myself and Dr Bajracharya were assigned to conduct studies on our respective fields of law and culture related with the tradition of Kumari but the coordinator Jal Krishna submitted a report before we finished our tasks”, Maharjan told the court.

The report has suggested the government promulgate a cultural procedure on the Kumari tradition, ensure more facilities for the Kumaris and to spread awareness about the tradition.

Petitioner advocate Maharjan had, in her petition, claimed that Kumari tradition violated the rights of minor girls who are appointed as Kumaris.

Kumaris are not given sufficient food, proper education, health service and family environment, the petitioner had claimed while calling the apex court to issue order to the government to properly rehabilitate Kumaris in the society. The petitioner had claimed that there are 11 minor girls serving as Kumaris in several temples in the Kathmandu valley.