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Karni Mata Temple (Deshnok), Bikaner

Karni Mata Temple (Deshnok) Overview

This 600 year old temple is dedicated to Karni Mata, a famous mystic of her times, believed to be an incarnation of goddess Durga. Devotees feed the rats, owing to the belief that these rodents will be reincarnated as holy men. The entrance archway is intricately carved in marble. The Karni Mata temple, 30 kms from Bikaner, is devoted to an early fifteenth century mystic who was measured to be a reincarnation of goddess Durga. The especially of the temple is that it is inhabited by legions of brown rats which scurry around the complex without aby fear. The rats are believed to be respositories of the souls of dead charans, the traditional bards. Devotees offer milk, grains and sweets to these rats during the time to aarti. There are so many rats on the floor that people have to watch where they step. Sighting a while mouse is considered auspicious. It is believed that the Maharaja of Bikaner had a vision in which the goddess asked him to protect the rats and for this reason, there is bronze wiremesh across the temple.

Worship and Rituals : Charan priests perform Mangla-Ki-Aarti and offer bhog (special food) as worship. A peculiar characteristic of the temple is the legion of brown rats roaming about in large numbers in the temple, which are considered to be auspicious and the devotees make offerings to these rats. Two kinds of offerings are made to Karni Mata. The Dwar Bhent is distributed to the priests and the workers. The Kalash Bhent is utilised for the temple maintenance and development.
Location : This temple is situated in Deshnoke a small town near Nokha in Bikaner district.
Reaching the temple : During the Karni Mata Fair in Chaitra, (March- April) special buses and trains carry the pilgrims to Deshnoke. It is connected by rail and road with Bikaner, Nagaur, Jodhpur and Jaipur and regular buses ply on these routes.
Story behind : The story of the temple is that a woman brought the body of her recently dead son to Karni Mata and asked her to restore the boy to life. Karni fell into a deep trance and encountered Yamaraja, the lord of death. But He told her that the boy had already accepted another body and could not be recalled. Karni refused to accept this and said that Yamaraja would no longer govern her tribe of Charans. At death they would enter the bodies of kabas, or sacred rats, and when the rats died they would be reborn as Charans. Karni Mata was an ascetic who led a righteous life dedicated to the service and upliftment of the poor and downtrodden of all communities. It is believed that she possessed supernatural powers. She laid the foundation of Deshnoke and her principal followers, Charans, as well as the rulers of Bikaner have worshiped her as a goddess.
Strange Belief : The souls of Karni Mata’s devotees are meant to reside in rats, so they’re considered holy. They’re all over the place and so there’s a fair chance that a rat or two to scamper over you. This will bring you luck. To earn yourself even more luck, keep your eyes peeled for a white rat. These rodents are supposed to be future incarnations of mystics or Sadhus.
The temple : The temple has huge silver gates and a marble door both donated by the Maharaja Ganga Singh. The temple has a beautiful silver door and a wire mesh over the courtyard to protect the rats from birds. An image of Karni Mata holding a trishul (trident), surrounded by rats can be seen in the temple. The rats are called kabas and if you injure a rat in the temple, you are expected to present a gold or silver replica to the temple or suffer misfortune. The rats eat from huge metal bowls filled with milk, sweets, and grains donated by devotees. It is considered auspicious to see a white kaba near the image of Karni Mata. Inside the shrine, a 75 cms. image of Karni Mata adorned with a mukut (tiara) and a garland is installed. Her image is accompanied by the images of her sisters and the sisters of Avad Mata.
Karni Mata Fair : The Fair is held twice a year at Deshnoke. Twice a year, devotees throng Deshnoke to worship Goddess Durga and her incarnations. This coincides with the Karni Mata festival, which is held in the months of Vaishakha (April/May) and Kartika (October/November). The Karni Mata Fair is held in her honour. The Karni Mata temple at Deshnoke is a stone and marble structure, which is also known as Madh. The Rajputs bring their children on jadula (their first hair cut) and place them at the deity's feet for blessing.
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