Kumari Puja festival
A young girl dressed as the Living Goddess Kumari takes part in the Kumari Puja festival in Kathmandu, Nepal September 14, 2016. The festival is a gathering in which young girls pose as the Living Goddess Kumari and are worshipped by people in the belief that their children will remain healthy.Reuters

Young girls in Nepal gear up for the living goddess Kumari Puja festival, which is one of the most important festivals in the Himalayan nation. Devotees in Nepal worship a Kumari, which means a virgin.

Devotees consider Kumari, a young prepubescent girl, to be an incarnation of the Hindu goddess of power Kali. However, these young girls lose the title of Kumari once they hit puberty, as they are considered ritually unclean.

These living goddesses live with their families in seclusion and rarely make public appearances. She is also not allowed to play with friends or go to school, as going out would make her unclean. She can make public appearances only during festival time and for a few hours. She is paraded in the city so that she can be worshipped.

During her appearance, devotees watch her reactions to gifts. If she receives the gifts in silence then people believe their wishes have been granted, if she cries or laughs loudly then they believe someone in their family will fall seriously ill and if she weeps or rubs her eyes they fear death, Mail Online explained.

However, once they hit puberty it gets difficult for them to lead a normal life. There are also rumours that they find it difficult to get married and settle down, as it is said that men who marry a former Kumari will die young.