Maureen's Adventures in Asia travel blog

Milk for the Rats

Temple Resident

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Lying in the north of the desert state, the city is dotted with scores of sand dunes. Bikaner retains the medieval grandeur that permeates the city's lifestyle. More readily called the camel country, the city is distinguished for the best riding camels in the world and hence boasts of having one of the largest Camel research and breeading farm in the world.

There is really not much in this town, but the real reason to come here is to go to the small village of Deshnok - situated 32 km south from Bikaner. It is a pilgrim centre of Karni Mata. Karni Mata, considered as an incarnation of Goddess Durga lived here in the fourteenth century and performed many miracles. Originally the village was called 'dus- nok' meaning ten corners as it was formed by taking ten corners of ten villages.

The temple is also famous for its holy rodents who are revered as 'Kabas'. It is believed that one of the younger children of the Goddess was drowned to death. Karni Mata then ordered the God of death Yama to bring him back to life. This was not possible for Yama, but Karni Mata as the incarnate of Durga could do so herself. So she got him back to life as a rodent and ordered that no member of the family would die but be reborn as Kaba. It is considered highly fortunate if a Kaba runs over your feet. With so many of them around it is highly unlikely that you wont get blessed. Sighting any white one, which are very few in number is lucky and good for the spiritual enhancement. The temple walls have convenient holes to permit a free passage-way for the Kabas and the roof has a wire grill on the top to prevent the birds of prey and other predators from harming the rodents

At the temple you can buy prasad of sugar balls to feed the rodents. The priest as an act of anointment puts a tikka of ash, from the holy fire in the inner sanctum, on your forehead. No shoes are allowed inside the temple, which freaked out a few of my fellow travellers. No rats ran over my feet - no blessings - unlucky day for me :) There were rumours of a white rat sighting. But I only saw a brown rat with a blotchy white patch on his butt!

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