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A new photo exhibition at the “Visa Pour l’Image” photography festival in Perpignan, France, is putting the spotlight on a little-known but unique tradition of Nepal’s Newar people, who live in the Kathmandu Valley. They worship young girls as living goddesses, known as “Kumaris.” The New York Times previews some of the stunning images captured by photographer Stephanie Sinclair, who spent time with several Kumaris while on assignment for National Geographic. “It is an honor to be chosen as a Kumari,” Sinclair explained to the Times, “but also a burden.” The young girls are identified by priests and are believed to be able to heal the sick and see into the future, up until the moment they bleed (either by a cut or menstruation) and the goddess leaves them. While it’s a great honor for their families, it can also turn their lives upside down, and many of these Kumaris are unable to go to school and can have trouble adjusting to “mortal life” later on.
Read the full story and see more of the photos at The New York Times.