January 10, 2013 (TSR) – It was a special day for Sambeg Shakya, Nepal’s “living god” who is worshipped as Lord Ganesh by both Hindus and Buddhists in this Himalayan nation.
On Sambeg’s eighth birthday last Wednesday, tradition called for Sambeg to give his blessings to his devotees who have queued up to worship him.
Dressed in a white robe with kohl-rimmed eyes and hair tightened in a bun, Sambeg entered a room where he gave blessings to his devotees.His father, who was the first devotee, touched his feet and offered him 50 rupees note.
“Everyone cannot be a living god,” his father, Bishwo Prakash Shakya,40, told Xinhua, “It’s his luck and fate.”
Unlike the living goddess Kumari’s house in Bansantapur, there are few people at Sambeg’s place. As there is no official home for Ganesh,it is quite difficult for devotees to locate his residence.
“There is no official residence for Ganesh,” Bishwo Prakash said, “Not just the tourists but even ordinary Nepalese don’t know much about the residence.”
During Indra Jatra, one of the biggest festivals in Kathmandu, chariots procession of Kumari, Ganesh and Bhairav is observed by the president, prime minister and other dignitaries.
Ganesh and Bhairav, both living gods, play supportive role during the festival because Kumari, the living goddess, was always the center of attraction. “Kumari, Ganesh and Bhairav are very important symbols of the nation,” Udhavman Karmacharya, the principal priest at the Taleju Temple, told Xinhua recently.
Sambeg said it feels good during the chariot processions. As Lord Ganesh he is worshipped first in every religious occasions and this happens during the Indra Jatra as well.
Life of the eight-year old Sambeg is different from other normal kids.He is not allowed to cross a river nor to eat a chicken or to wear leather garments.
A student at Green Peace co-ed school, Ganesh enjoys painting and drawing in the computer and has been living with maternal uncle after his father sold the house to sustain his living. “I cannot put him in a rented house,” he said.
The government and the Kathmandu Municipality allot Rs 11,250 ( 135 U.S. dollar) a month to meet the living expenses of Sambeg.
But Rajan Maharjan, founding chairman of Federation of Youth World Hindu, said it’s quite unfair not to provide an official residence for Ganesh and Bhairav since it is a long Nepalese tradition to worship them.
“Since they do not have official houses, their popularity and fame are slowly being eroded and this is bad for our culture and religious values,”Maharjan said.
On the contracy, the Kumari House, the official residence of Kumari,the living goddess at Basantapur, is attracting hundreds of tourists every day.
Maharjan said the government should build official homes for Ganesh and Bhairav just like what they have done to Kumari.
Bishwo Prakash saud that if official residences are built in Basantapur it would be a good opportunity for tourists and devotees to see the three living gods and goddess together and know more about Nepalese tradition.
“I am interested in science,” Sambeg said. “He wants to be a doctor,”his father said.
His father said Sambeg will continue his role as Ganesh until he is big enough to fit in a chariot pulled by men. “After that he must return to his real life,” Bishwo Prakash said, adding that he hopes the government would look after his health and give him a proper education.