|Rats live a life fit for a king (a rat king at least) at Karni Mata Temple|
I'm going to tell you a little secret: when I was little my grandpa used to scare me into obedience. However, he never invented stories about monsters that would come and eat me if I didn't listen. His stories were about rats. Yes, rats, those tiny creatures cats used to eat (though nowadays they all seem to prefer Whiskas). I have no idea how the little creatures were suppose to make a meal out of the disobedient me, but the fact is I was scared and the technique worked. In the meantime, I'm not all that afraid of rats anymore, though I still don't like the infamous rodents. But when I first found out about the Rat Temple in India, I must confess it made my hair stand on end for a second.
While learning about other cultures always fascinated me, I've also discovered there is a limit to how far I would go in my quest for new experiences. And the Indian Rat Temple is just beyond that limit. Like the image of a single rat wasn't enough, imagine thousands of small, brown rodents scurrying across beautiful marble floors and scampering over your feet. Welcome to India, the land of the Holy Rat! To get a better feeling of how the Rat Temple really is, check out this video:
The Karni Mata Temple or Rat Temple from Rajastan is a famous place of worship in India. The intricate marble panels, silver and gold decorations could easily make it a favorite destination among foreign tourists. But then, there are the 20,000 rats that call this Hindu temple home. And that's enough information for me to put me off.
The temple was built in the early 1900s as a tribute to the rat goddess, Karni Mata, and today thousands of pilgrims travel to the temple by foot to pay their respects. And if you ask me, I think this is beautiful, finding something sacred in every living thing and learning to coexist with it, even if that means rats. I know I've been conditioned to be afraid of them, but this doesn't make me narrow minded.
|It's hard to imagine rats crawling all over the place behind this beautiful walls|
|Beautiful marble details at the Rat Temple in India|
OK, and now comes the part that might put you off. A visit to the Rat Temple could easily cost you your house. If you kill one of the rats, which is not all that difficult after all as they are all over the place and don't seem to mind the humans, you must replace it with one made of solid gold. And as these rats are all well fed, chances are for the rat to be a fat one, therefore the gold statue is more expensive.
According to the legend, back in the 14th century, Karni Mata, an incarnation of a Hindu goddess, implored the god of death, to restore the life of the son of one of her clansmen. However, she found out that he had already been reincarnated as a rat, therefore nothing could be done. That's when Karni Mata cut a deal with the god of death, and from that point forward, all of her tribespeople would be reborn as rats until they could be born back into the clan. Therefore, the Rat Temple hosts humans reincarnated as rats, waiting to die to be reincarnated as humans. So why all the fuss if you kill a rat? Isn't it like doing a favor to the pour creature? Or is it just my human vanity talking?
|Look at them, they even look cute here!|
Photos via Flickr and Wikipedia Creative Commons