Kumari Puja a part of durga
puja, during which a teenage girl is worshipped symbolically
as a goddess. Kumari puja is held at the end of Mahastami puja, but can
also be held on the day of Navami puja. Kumari puja may also be held during
puja, Annapurna puja and Shakti puja.
According to Hindu scriptures, Kumari puja commemorates the killing
of Kolasur by the goddess Kali. According to legend, Kolasur had
occupied the heavens and the earth. The helpless deities approached
Mahakali for help. Responding to their appeal, she was born again
and, in the form of a maiden, killed Kolasur.
Ramakrishna Mission, Dhaka
The rituals of Kumari puja and its significance have
been described in detail in Yoginitantra, Kularnavatantra,
Devipurana, Stotra, Kavacha, Sahasranama,
Tantrasara, Prantosini and Purohitadarpana.
No distinction of race, religion or caste is made in
choosing a virgin for Kumari puja. Theoretically, any virgin can be perceived
as a deity and worshipped, including one from the prostitute community.
However, usually a Brahmin virgin is chosen. The girl, who can be anywhere
from 1 to 16, is named according to her age: A girl of 1 year is called
Sandhya, of 2 years Saraswati, of 3 years Tridhamurti, of 4 years Kalika,
of 5 years Subhaga, of 6 years Uma, of 7 years Malini, of 8 years Kuvjika,
of 9 years Kalasandarbha, of 10 years Aparajita, of 11 years Rudrani,
of 12 years Bhairavi, of 13 years Mahalaksmi, of 14 years Pithanayika,
of 15 years Ksetrajna and of 16 years Annada or Amvika.
Kumari puja is believed to grant many blessings on worshippers. It is said to remove all dangers; feeding the maiden is believed to equal feeding all three worlds. The philosophical basis of Kumari puja is to establish the value of women. The maiden symbolises the seed of the powers that regulate creation, stability and destruction. A maiden is the early symbol of womanhood or nature. In this worship the universal mother appears to the devotee in the shape of a maiden. ramakrishna Paramhansadev worshipped his own wife in the image of a young maiden.
A manuscript of Kashinath Tarkalankar's puthi, Kumaripujaprayoga (1850), which describes Kumari puja, has been preserved at the bangla academy library. At present Kumari puja is observed at the ramakrishna missions in dhaka, narayanganj, barisal, sylhet, habiganj and dinajpur. The Kumari puja observances at the Ramakrishna Mission in Dhaka draw large crowds of devotees and general visitors. [Dulal Bhowmik]