The Kumari jatra. Three temple cars outside the Hanuman Dhoka, or Old Palace, Kathmandu
Artist: Oldfield, Henry Ambrose (1822-1871)
Watercolour of the Kumari jatra, with the three temple cars outside the Hanuman Dhoka, or Old Palace, at Kathmandu in Nepal, by Henry Ambrose Oldfield (1822-1871), c. 1850-1863. The image is inscribed on the reverse: 'The 'Ruth' jatra in front of Durbar...'.
Darbar Square is the quadrangle of the old royal palace, which is surrounded by temples and monuments; it is also called Hanuman Dhoka after a statue of the monkey-god Hanuman. The festival seen in this image centres around the Kumari, a little girl aged from three to five, who is worshipped as the incarnation of the goddess Taleju and chosen from the Buddhist Shayka clan. Dr Oldfield, who was Residency Surgeon at Kathmandu from 1850-1863, wrote in 'Sketches from Nipal, Historical and Descriptive...' (1880), "The Ruthjatra itself consists in dragging through the streets of Kathmandu these three Banhra children, each of them being seated or enshrined like a deity during the procession in a triumphal car. There are, therefore three cars, all made in the form of an ordinary Hindu temple, covered with copper-gilt. The largest of the three...has three roofs and in the lower chamber the little girl sits enshrined as a deity, and to her the offerings of money, fruit, flowers, &c. are made. No figures of the god are carried in any of these cars, as the children, for the time, personate the deity. In the small gallery round the car in which the little girl is, are some priests, a few Sardars, and others, one of whom bears the sword of state of the reigning king...The cars have to make their different circuits in three different quarters of the city on three alternate days."