In Hinduism, gods and goddesses take animal forms, so, finding a temple where rats are worshiped doesn’t sound odd -not at least in this side of the world.
In Deshnoke, a small city near the India’s border with Pakistan, there is a temple dedicated to Karni Mata, the rat goddess.
The legend says Karni Mata lived in the 14th century and was the incarnation of Durga, the goddess of power and victory. One day her nephew felt in a river and she failed to save him so Karni Mata made a deal with Yama, the god of death: From that moment, all of her clan would be reborn as rats until they could be born back as humans. In early 1900, Maharaja Ganga constructed this temple as a tribute to the goddess.
The temple receive visitors from all over India looking for good fortune and blessings. Drinking water or eating food sampled by the rats is considered a great honour. Entire families travel from all over the country to pay tribute to Karni Mata.
As weird as it sound, is in fact a fascinating place. I found it difficult to walk barefoot stepping on rat urine, excrements and food but being able to visit such a strange yet amazing place is a great experience. I even saw 2 white rats which is considered good luck.
If you are planning to visit, be sure its the last thing you do on that day before heading back to your hotel. Even if you wash your feet throughly after leaving the temple, you will feel in an urgent need of a long shower.
“They are my goddess’ family so they are my family too”
says one of the temple’s servant sitting on the floor, eating and surrounded by rats