The rats, known as “kabbas” or “little children,” are fed grains, milk, and coconuts shells from large metal bowls. Water the rats drink from is considered holy, and eating the rats’ leftovers is said to bring good fortune to those making the pilgrimage to the temple.
The devotees have another reason to keep the rats safe and happy. According to the temple laws, if one of the rats is accidentally killed, it must be replaced with a rat made of silver or gold.
It is also considered auspicious if a rat runs over your feet. And you are under a lucky star if you spot a rare albino rat. There is only one white rat among this teeming population of 20,000.
The present temple dates back to the 15th century, when it was built by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikaner. The striking façade of the temple is wholly built in marble.
Karni Mata is considered an incarnation of Goddess Durga. She was believed to have performed many miracles in the 14th century. Mythology says that when her youngest son dies, she requested Lord Yama, the God of Death to restore him. When Yama refused, she brought her son back to life on her own. And vowed that no person of her clan will ever die. They will turn into rats, and be born as her descendants.
This story is the reason for belief and worship of the rats here. So, while you may detest this furry creature in your home, here they are revered.
The best time to visit Deshnoke is post-monsoon, as winters and summers can be harsh in the desert. You can reach the temple via an hour’s ride from Bikaner.
Read Also: Did You Know Of This Land Of 72 Temples In Jharkhand
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