Friday, 9 January 2009

Eastern rituals

I've been reading about Kumaris today. A Kumari is a young girl chosen to be the living representation of the Hindu goddess, Durga. The anointment of a Kumari has been taking place for hundreds of years in Nepal and continues to this day. The Kumari reigns until she reaches puberty i.e. until she menstruates. The Nepalese believe her menstruation is the sign that Durga has departed from her body and thus another Kumari is chosen.

My mother is Nepalese and I find it fascinating that such ritualistic beliefs and practices still occur there today. In my life and current situation, I couldn't be further away from all of this but yet genetically, I originate from lands consumed by such beliefs and practices. People have asked me before whether I feel displaced or confused not only coming from mixed parentage but also from moving around so much in my lifetime. Yes, I grew up feeling rather indifferent to my surroundings merely because they were so transient and I never spent enough time in each place to ever feel a true bond. However now, looking back, I think that I always felt a strong connection to Britain and British culture and that's why out of all the places I've ever lived, I've always been most happiest and accepted here.

I also spent part of my life in the Middle East and reflecting over Eastern culture and practices reminds me of an Anne Sexton poem, 'The Moss Of His Skin'. The poem is about the ancient Arabic custom of burying the youngest daughter alive alongside her father as a sarifice to the goddess of the tribes.

The Moss Of His Skin

It was only important
to smile and hold still,
to lie down beside him
and to rest awhile,
to be folded up together
as if we were silk,
to sink from the eyes of mother
and not to talk.
The black room took us
like a cave or a mouth
or an indoor belly.
I held my breath
and daddy was there,
his thumbs, his fat skull,
his teeth, his hair growing
like a field or a shawl.
I lay by the moss
of his skin until
it grew strange. My sisters
will never know that I fall
out of myself and pretend
that Allah will not see
how I hold my daddy
like an old stone tree.

The Girl On Death Row - T. Tex Edwards & Out On Parole

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