Nepal is on the hunt for a new Kumari, a prepubescent girl worshiped as a virginal living goddess by Nepali Hindus and Buddhists who consider her an embodiment of the goddess of strength. Nepal's astrologists are analyzing horoscopes of girls belonging to the Buddhist Shakya clan, looking for the next Kumari.
The religious authorities want to make their selection before the annual Dasain Hindu festival in October, because if they wait too long, the current Kumari (who is 11) may begin menstruating before next year's festival. The goddess inhabits the girl's body until she menstruates, and it is considered unlucky if the virgin starts menstruating while serving as Kumari.
The Kumari job requirements include: perfect eyes, teeth, hair, and flawless skin free of even a small scratch. The girl, who can be as young as three-years-old, leaves her family and receives an allowance from the government. During religious festivals she wears red and gold costumes and is carried on a wooden chariot through the capital city. Some in Nepal say the tradition must be abolished to protect the children.