The Rat Temple
Bikaner Travel Blog› entry 1 of 1 › view all entries
April 5th, 2009 – by: vidalibre
Just when you think it canâ€™t get any more bizarre in Indiaâ€¦..something else is right around the corner. Last weekâ€™s shocker was the Rat Temple, located about 30km outside of Bikaner, in the middle of the Great Thar Desert, not far from the border with Pakistan. I went not knowing what to expect, but as always, I was anticipating something extraordinary. The Rat Temple did not disappoint. Upon entry, shoes must be removed, as is the case in all Hindu temples. However, my suspicions were hightened when I removed my shoes and was given a pair of paper slippers. This is the only time I have seen a temple actually giving foot coverings when entering a temple.
As soon as I walked thru the gate, the whaft of rat droppings and urine almost made me hurl. To my immediate right was an exhibit behind an iron gate; something like you would see at a zoo. Inside were hundereds (thousands?) of rats, crawling over each other to get the scraps of food visitors brought for them. Directly outside the display was a giant bowl of what appeared to be milk, with dozens of rats hanging on the edge, drinking to their little heartâ€™s content. Mind you there are hungry and homeless people right outside the temple begging for money and/or food, but only in the name of religion would people be so misguided (brainwashed?) as to treat the rats as gods and the people as though they were rats.
Legend has it that because Yama, the god of death, would not restore the life of the son of a grieving story teller, Karni Mata, the 14th incarnation of Durga, reincarnated all dead story-tellers as rats.
To my amazement, I then saw people on their hands and knees searching under statues and behind shrines. I learned that they were looking for the albino or white rat. For if you spot this rat, you are going to be REALLY blessed. People were crawling all over the rat droppings and probably contracting countless diseases with the hope of seeing this rat.
Who am I to say that those lucky enough to come in contact with a disease-infested rat wonâ€™t encounter future fortunes and have their lives turned around, possibly becoming reincarnated into the next higher caste. Possibly some of the followers believe there is nothing to lose and everything to gain by such a practice. But it just goes to show, and proves to me time and again that people will do absolutely anything they are told, especially in the name of religion.
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