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Kumari Puja

Skt., kumaripuja
Mass of the Virgin, Virgin Worship

The kumari-puja is a ceremony which sometimes includes ritual defloration of selected virgins. It was held, among other places, at Kanya-Kumari (Skt., "Young Virgin"), a temple at Cape Comorin in Southern India. The Kaulavali Nirnaya Tantra states, in chapter XV, that rituals performed without carrying out the Kumari-Puja are to be compared to a body without a soul. Also the Nila Tantra regards the Kumari Puja as indispensable to Tantric ritual. The Kaulavali Nirnaya gives, also in chapter XV, the respective names for each age of a Kumari (virgin); names that are usually those of more or less well known goddesses. From the list, so it seems, we may deduce that there are no virgins beyond the age of 16; in India the number of perfection.

  1. Sandhya
  2. Sarasvati
  3. Tridha-murti
  4. Kalika (a yogini of the Kalika Purana, a Navadurga and one of the 100 names of Kali)
  5. Subhaga
  6. Uma (a name/aspect of Durga)
  7. Malini (a name/aspect of Durga)
  8. Kubjika
  9. Samvarsa
  10. Aparajita (a name/aspect of Durga)
  11. Rudrani (a yogini of the Kalika Purana)
  12. Bhairavi (a Mahavidya)
  13. Mahalaksmi ("Great Lakshmi")
  14. Pithanayika
  15. Ksetraya
  16. Tarini
Judging by the expression veshya kumarika or "virgin whores", a title given to women participating in Kula rites, we may assume that such defloration - as happens so often - was accompanied in some way by sexual rites. There are also indications that some girls were even royally paid for the loss of their virginity, a practice that comes close to sacred prostitution and makes them truly veshya.

The Kumari Puja is also known in Nepal, where Kumari is the title of the Living Goddess.