KARNI MATA-THE RAT TEMPLE
The marble floors are a living space of grey fur. Thousands of rats dine with people and scamper over their feet…No one is allowed to mistreat them! It may sound like the worse nightmare for the people from the modern western part, but in India’s small city of Deshnok, near Bikaner, this is a place of worship: Rajastan’s famous Karni Mata Temple.
WHY THE RATS IN KARNA MATI TEMPLE ARE HOLY?
The legend says that in 14th century Karni Mata was the reincarnation of Durga- the goddess of power and victory. One day the child of her clansmen passed away and she tried to bring him back to the life…The goddess of death- Yama told her that the child can live but in the form of the rat and from now onwards all of her tribes people would be reborn as rats until they could be born back into the clan… The process of transmigrations is known as samsara, so that is why Karni Mata’s animals- rats are treated as celebrities here…
HOW DO THE RATS SURVIVE?
RATS…They run around the corners, spill out of doors, tumble down stairs…And they are not ONE, TWO OR TEN…They are over 15 000 rats called „kabbas“ or „ little children“ !!! There is one main guy ( guardian ) who is in charge of taking care of them: he sleeps, he eats and prays with them…They are his ancestors reborn as rats! The guys with some helpers is cooking all day long the food for them and they are afficial tasters…They can eat everything up here: sweets, breads, snacks… No one refuses to eat from the plates with holy rats. Why not? They are the GODS!!! Grand parents, grand grand parents are in the temple…rats are his „family“! It is believed that the human being is reincarnating to the rat. Eating food or drinking water that previously has been tasted by a rat is considered to be a supreme blessing. Actually, rats in this temple are considered to be holy- the rats outside temple walls are JUST “rats” 😉 By the way rats are free to leave the temple and escape to villages around but they never leave the temple…actually why to leave if you have a safe shelter, delicious food and a bunch of “friends” every day?
HOW TO GET READY TO MEET RATS!? Here rats are treated like royalties, photos are taken by travelers in every corner of the temple… Be brave to enter to the temple. WHY? As you probably know, before entering the temple you must take off your shoes…and litterally walk on the ground littered with rats excriments.
Out of all grey rats in the temple, ther are few white ones as well which are considered as especially holy. People believe in the holiness of rats: in case if someone steps on the rat and kills it, they must buy a gold statue of rat and place it in the temple. Otherwise, the life will be ruined and unsuccesfull forever… SOME FACTS PROVE THE HOLINESS OF RATS!
Generally rats are the source of many dangerous deseases…but the most surprising thing is that no one in the temple was ill or dead because of rat viruses! It is a miracle itself since few centuries!
By the way, even local traditions say that newly married couple should visit the temple before starting their conjugal life…
Plan to include the Rat temple in your itinerary while visiting cultural region of India-Rajasthan!!!