Rare Glimpse of a Goddess

Giggly preteen Hindu says sweet snacks are among the perks of her prominence.

ByABC News
June 14, 2007, 5:36 PM

June 14, 2007 — -- Hollywood starlets can step aside: A real-life goddess is now in the country.

Sajani Shakya, 10, is the first living goddess to visit the United States from Nepal, where she is worshipped and believed to inhabit the Hindu goddess Kali, who is thought to live in girls until they reach puberty.

She's not just a goddess. She's also now a film star, on the East Coast to promote her documentary "Living Goddess" at Maryland's Silverdocs Film Festival. The film details the life of a goddess in Nepal amid moves for modernization and democracy in the country.

So what does it really mean to be a goddess? She mixes her responsibilities with school and time for friends.

Among the perks -- Shakya giggled while explaining she likes it "best" when she is carried around at festivals.

"I think she really loves it as any girl would love being a princess or a fairy in a fairy tale," said "Living Goddess" filmmaker Ishbel Whitaker. "It's definitely that kind of magical, enchanting element to it that really appeals to the girls."

She was discovered to be a goddess at the tender age of 2, from a specific caste. Only a handful of those considered ultimately meet the so called "32 perfections" of the girl who holds the goddess Kali. They include having the gait of a swan, and teeth and golden, tender skin so perfect the skin has never even had a scratch.

The distinction appears not to have gone to her head. Whitaker said Shakya "seems to take it all in her stride" and "also leads the life of a normal girl."

While she goes to school and visits with friends, she also spends time with those who seek her blessing. Shakya admitted her favorite part of those visits are the cookies and candy that are served.

For her first U.S. visit and first trip out of Nepal, Shakya made stops at the White House, the Capitol and a school.

She toured Lafayette Elementary School in Washington, D.C., where a third grade class greeted her with questions about her life, and she enjoyed learning about the lives of American kids.

But the questions quickly reverted to typical 10-year-old play as the special visitor was invited to the gym to watch a volleyball game, where she laughed and asked questions throughout.