29 SEPTEMBER 2017 – A three-year-old girl has been named Kathmandu’s next “living goddess” after her predecessor retired.

Trishna Shakya has been named the new Kumari of Nepal’s capital, continuing an ancient tradition that sees young girls worshipped as the living embodiment of the Hindu goddess Taleju. She was selected ahead of three other candidates after a 21-day process that included spending a night among heads of slaughtered goats and buffaloes, the Kathmandu Post reports.

Trishna was anointed on Thursday, before being taken from her family home to live in an ancient palace to be looked after by a team of caretakers.

“She will take her place on the Kumari’s throne after we perform prayers and tantric rituals,” Uddhav Man Karmacharya, a Hindu priest, said before the event.

Eligible girls must fulfil all the criteria of the “32 perfections” of a goddess, which include having a “body like a banyan tree”, “eyelashes like a cow” and a “voice soft and clear as a duck’s”. The girl will now only be allowed to leave 13 times a year on festival days, where she will be paraded through the city and worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists.

Her predecessor, 12-year-old Matina Shakya, left the palace from a rear entrance carried by her family and supporters as the Trishna arrived, according to The Hindu. Despite criticism from some child rights activists, the practice has continued since the end of the Nepalese Hindu monarchy in 2008.

The same year, the country’s Supreme Court ruled the Kumari should be given an education inside the palace and be allowed to sit exams.