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The Kumari priest and his wife escort Jibika Bajracharya, the newly appointed child goddess Kumari, through the streets in Bhaktapur, Nepal. As the new Kumari of Bhaktapur, she performs her role in public during the 15-day long Dashain festival while spending the rest of the year as a goddess living a normal life with her parents at home until she is replaced at 11 years old. Photo Tom Van Cakenberghe/Getty Images
Residents and visitors swim and sit by the banks of the Ganges river after sunrise in Varanasi, India. The Ganges river is considered sacred in the Hindu religion and is revered as a goddess
An artisan in India works on an unfinished clay idol of the Hindu Goddess Durga at a workshop in Bangalore. It is in preparation for the forthcoming Dussehra festival. Dussehra, derived from the Sanskrit Dasha-hara, meaning “remover of bad fate”, is among the most important celebrations in the Hindus religious calendar
A young Nepalese girl dressed as a Kumari, the living goddess, looks on as she takes part in Kumari Puja rituals at Hanuman Dhoka in Durbar Square, Kathmandu. Some 504 girls under the age of nine from across the country have been brought to the temple for mass worship, protection from evil, and good luck in the future. Kumari, or Kumari Devi, is the tradition of worshiping young pre-pubescent girls as manifestations of the divine female energy or devi in Hindu religious traditions
A Hindu devotee gets her tongue pierced with a trident as she takes part in an annual religious procession called Shitla Mata in Ahmedabad, India.