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The holy feast

Rats drinking milk in Karni Mata Temple, India.

The most intriguing aspect of the temple is the 20,000-odd rats that call this temple home. These...
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Rats drinking milk in Karni Mata Temple, India.

The most intriguing aspect of the temple is the 20,000-odd rats that call this temple home. These holy rats are called kabbas, and many people travel great distances to pay their respects.

Legend has it that Laxman, Karni Mata's stepson, 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 folklores. Local folklores say that 20,000 strong army men deserted a nearby battle and came running to deshnoke. Upon learning the sin of desertion, punishable by death, Karni Mata spared the lives but made them rats and offered the temple as the future place of stay. The army of soldiers expressed their gratitude and promised to serve Karni Mata lifelong.
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