Kumaris are chosen as infants in Nepal to become living goddesses, who are then worshipped by thousands of Hindus and Buddhists until they reach puberty. Here, one Kumari, Samita Bajracharya, is worshipped by a devotee at a festival during one of her nine public appearances throughout the year
In most communities around the world, goddesses are symbolic of a spiritual world. But in Nepal, these sacred females live and breathe.
Handpicked from birth, these pre-pubescent girls are known as Kumaris and are believed to be incarnations of the Hindu Goddess of Power, Kali.
From the moment they are chosen for their role, and pass a rigorous 32-stage test, these living goddesses are propelled to immortal-like status, deemed to be protectors from evil by thousands of adoring Hindus and Buddhists.
But for these girls, it is not just a name and status that they are given - their whole life changes.
Kumaris - which means virgin in Nepalese - are forced to leave their homes and are hidden away in temples as a living deity, only able to leave when they are required at festivals and processions as the subject of worship.