Mumbai: A temple in Deshnoke, about 30 kilometres from Bikaner in Rajasthan is dedicated to Karni Mata, a woman sage from the Charan caste who led an ascetic life. Karni Mata is believed to have been an incarnation of Goddess Durga. The temple dedicated to her is hugely famous for its rats.
Karni Mata was married but she chose not to lead a marital life. Hence she got her younger sister married to her husband. With the support of her husband, she walked the spiritual path she wanted to.
The Royals of Jodhpur and Bikaner held her in high esteem and sought her blessings.
Legend of Karni Mata
Karni Mata’s step-son Lakshman had drowned in a pond. She fought Yama, the God of death to grant his life. After initial denials, Yama succumbs to her relentless penance and agrees to reincarnate all her male followers including step-son Lakshman into rats.
According to another legend, an army with over 20,000 men had deserted the battle field fearing loss of life - a crime punishable by death. Bound by compassion for one and all, Karni Mata forgave them by transformed them into rats. As a mark of gratitude, the army promised to serve her for eternity.
People from across the globe who learn about this temple pay a visit to Karni Mata to see the overwhelming number of rats. Interestingly, consuming the Prasad (offerings to the Goddess) nibbled by the rats is considered sacred and auspicious.