Of Myths And Legends
Semeen Ali
THE LIVING GODDESS: A JOURNEY INTO THE HEART OF KATHAMANDU by Isabella Tree Penguin Books, Delhi, 2015, 350 pp., 599
February 2015, volume 39, No 2

In Kathmandu we discover, all the stories of the past are suffused with myth, and legends run circles around historical facts. To Nepalis this is natural, as if facts alone cannot reflect all the hidden meanings and relevances.
The idea of writing this book came to Isabella Tree in the light of the regicide in 2001.Though the focus of the book is on the Living Goddess—the Kumari, it does not restrict itself to exploring the lives of the Kumaris—past or present. It takes into account the historical past interspersed with the myths and the legends that give rise to the Kumarichen.In order to understand the Kumari one has to understand the story of Goddess Durga which is tied up with the myth of creation of the world. For the people of Nepal, these are not merely myths and legends but are influences that live with them. ‘…the myths and stories the “dyas” generated are wellsprings of interaction and inspiration in daily life.’

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