Karni Mata Rat Temple
Rat Temple? Yikes! I am not even going to read about it! Is that what you were thinking? Well, why am I not surprised. Whether you like rats (really?) or not, you can visit this temple for its sheer uniqueness. The rats. Yes, the temple has more than 25000 rats which never leave the temple. You can see rats everywhere inside the temple, usually drinking milk, or water, or nibbling at the prasad offered to the temple. They move around the temple in all directions, even inside the inner sanctum where idol of Karni Mata is present. Priests perform puja and aarti at defined times just like in any other temple. Devotees visit the temple, go around the sanctum seeking blessings from the deity, sit on the hall outside the sanctum waiting patiently for the aarti just like in any other temple. The only difference you notice are the rats moving around, some crossing over your feet, crawling over people who are seated, and so on. For the priests and the devotees, its “business as usual”. You can also find people who visit the temple because they could not resist their curiosity of hearing about a temple dedicated to rats! You can hear them scream! You can see them suddenly moving front and back! You can see them bowing the heads down to watch out for the rats more than bowing in front of the Goddess to seek blessings!
Karani Mata Temple
The locals called the rats as “Kabba”. Some even get offended if we refer to them as “Chuha”, the hindi term for a rat. The locals consider the Kabbas as holy and even worship them. That is why you don’t see them reacting even when the rat crawl over when they are seated. Some of the devotees who are kind enough even come to you and say, “Don’t Worry. They are harmless. Don’t react. They will eventually go away”. And it is true! The Kabbas just move around. If you are in their path, they climb on you and move on. That’s it! 🙂
You can find the Kabbas everywhere inside the temple. And in huge numbers. Most of them are either black or brown in color. There are a few white rats too, and according to the locals, spotting them is very rare, and if you do, you are blessed by Karani Mata. The locals also say that if you accidentally step on any rat, and it dies, you have to pay the fine of giving a solid rat made of either gold or silver. I am not sure if the fine is actually collected that way, but it sure will make you be more careful when walking (Perhaps that is the intention behind the fine!).
The locals also say that there used to be much more rats before. Due to the curious visitors accidentally stepping on the rats and killing them, they built a net at a height, and most of the rats are found on the net these days.
As you can observe from the last photo above, not even a single Kabba is seen outside the temple. If you think it is mystery, then there are a couple of legends that explain them. The first one goes like this. Karani Mata’s son Laxman accidentally drowned in a pond (Kapil Sarovar) while trying to drink water from it. Karani Mata would not let Yama (God of Death) take Laxman away with him. Eventually Yama gave in, and reincarnated Laxman as a rat. In fact, all the male children of Karani Mata is supposed to live here as rats. According to a second story, an army of 25000 men deserted a battle nearby and came to this place. Running away from a battle is considered to be a punishable by death offense, but instead Karani Mata turned them into rats thereby sparing their lives! Expressing gratitude for sparing the lives, the army men promised to serve Karani Mata in the temple.
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