The myths and legends surrounding the Kumari, the living Goddess of Kathmandu, is fascinating. Historical records show that the worship of Kumari as a living goddess has been prevalent since at least the 10th century. But popular folklore relating to the kumara as the incarnation of Taleju Bhavani, the patron deity of the royals, and the king conversing and playing dice with her are linked to certain kings who ruled Kathmandu, like Trailokya Malla (16th century) and the last Malla ruler of Kathmandu, Jaya Prakash Malla (18th century). According to the legend, it so happened that one night while playing dice with goddess Taleju, or Kumari, the king was aroused by her celestial beauty and was overcome with lust. The Kumari, a goddess as she was, at once visualized the amorous thoughts in the king’s mind. Showing her utter displeasure, she declared that she would henceforth never come to him and disappeared. The king was filled with profound remorse and begged for forgiveness. The Goddess later relented and said that she would enter the body of a virgin girl, a Kumari, which the king was to worship.
Another version of the legend has it that the king and Kumari used to play dice every night on condition that no mortal would see them doing so. Accordingly, the king had strictly instructed the queen and his daughter not to enter or peek into the certain room while he was inside. But curiosity got the better of the women, and they peeped inside. The angry goddess then disappeared. The king repented and prayed for the Goddess’ forgiveness. Goddess kumara then came in his dream and told the king that she would henceforth not come in person. Instead the king was to worship a Shakya virgin girl who would possess her divine power. Since then, a Shakya virgin girl is worshipped as the Kumari, and once a year during the month of September, the Living Goddess is taken around the old quarters of Kathmandu in her chariot during the Indra Jatra Festival.