Samita Bajracharya is a 12-year-old Nepalese girl who lives with her family, studies hard, and enjoys playing a Nepali version of the lute. But until recently she was also worshipped by people who believed she was a reincarnated goddess.
Along a busy thoroughfare in Lalitpur, near Kathmandu, a passageway leads into a large, open-air courtyard. In the back corner, there’s a modest home, with a red sign outside that simply reads, “Living Goddess”.
A narrow wooden staircase leads up to the second floor, where the goddess spends much of her childhood. She’s called a Kumari, which means “young, unmarried girl”.
She’s worshipped by both Hindus and Buddhists in Nepal, who believe she’s a reincarnation of the Hindu goddess Durga.