Karni Mata Temple
|Karni Mata Temple|
Karni Mata Temple
|Other names||Temple of ma karni|
|Proper name||Karni Mata Temple|
|Devanagari||करणी माता मंदिर|
|Architectural styles||Mughal & Rajput|
|History and governance|
|Date built||15th - 20th century|
|Creator||Maharaja Ganga Singh|
The temple is famous for the approximately 20,000 black rats that live, and are revered in, the temple. These holy rats are called kabbas, and many people travel great distances to pay their respects. The temple draws visitors from across the country for blessings, as well as curious tourists from around the world.
Legend has it that Laxman, Karni Mata's stepson (or the son of one of her storytellers), drowned in a pond in Kapil Sarovar in Kolayat Tehsil while he was attempting to drink from it. Karni Mata implored Yama, the god of death, to revive him. First refusing, Yama eventually relented, permitting Laxman and all of Karni mata's male children to be reincarnated as rats.
The story behind rats at the temple is different according to some local folklore. According to this version, a 20,000 strong army deserted a nearby battle and came running to Deshnoke. Upon learning of the sin of desertion, punishable by death, Karni Mata spared their lives but turned them into rats, and offered the temple as a future place to stay. The army of soldiers expressed their gratitude and promised to serve Karni Mata evermore.
In front of the temple is a beautiful marble facade, which has solid silver doors built by Maharaja Ganga Singh. Across the doorway are more silver doors with panels depicting the various legends of the Goddess. The image of the Goddess is enshrined in the inner sanctum.
Out of all of the thousands of rats in the temple, there are a few white rats, which are considered to be especially holy. They are believed to be the manifestations of Karni Mata herself and her four sons. Sighting them is a special blessing and visitors put in extensive efforts to bring them forth, offering prasad, a sweet holy food.
Worship and fair
The temple is thrown open to the public early in the morning at 4.00 a.m. Charan priests perform Mangla-Ki-Aarti and offer bhog (special food) in worship. Devotees make offerings to the rats, which roam about the temple in large numbers and are considered auspicious. There are two kinds of offerings made: the 'dwar-bhent' is attributed to the priests and the workers, while the 'kalash-bhent' is utilised for the temple maintenance and development.
Karni Mata Fair
Karni Mata Fair is held twice a year at Deshnok:
- The first and larger fair is held in March-April during the Navratras from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi.
- The second fair is held in September-October, also during the Navratras, from Ashvin Shukla to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi.
During Navratri thousands of people travel to the temple by foot.
Appearances in media
The temple appeared on the first season of the U.S. reality series The Amazing Race. It featured a challenge where one person from each team had to search the temple for a clue. The Karni Mata temple is one of the wonders of Indians in the game Age of Empires 3.
- Langton, Jerry (2007). Rat: How the World's Most Notorious Rodent Clawed Its Way to the Top. Macmillan. pp. 125–128. ISBN 0-312-36384-2.
- Deshnok – Kani Mata Temple India, by Joe Bindloss, Sarina Singh, James Bainbridge, Lindsay Brown, Mark Elliott, Stuart Butler. Published by Lonely Planet, 2007. ISBN 1-74104-308-5. Page 257.