The “Kabas” of Maa Karni temple in Deshnoke are the rats. Here, there, everywhere, inside the temple one can see hundreds of them, even though, not a sinlge rat outside. They scurvy across the marble floors, parch snoozing on the rail and snuggle into holes low down in the walls, their long tails poking out. Be it the laddu’s offered by the devotees or the milk poured in for the Mata, they have first right on everything. They rule the rooms and attics of the temple, stocked with grains. It is their kingdom.


One may wonder where do they come from. Well, there is a story behind it. Once, the youngest son of Maa Karni, Laxman Raj went to Kolayat lake for a holy dip. There his legs slipped and he was drowned. His mother, Gulab Bai was overcome with grief and appealed to Karni Mata. The Mata resurrected his life, retrieving him from the clutches of Yama, the hindu god of the dead. Then on, she vowed that none from her Charan tribe will ever fall into the hands of Yama. Thus, it is believed that any Charan in and around Deshnoke who dies become Kabas and the rats, after death become Charan or otherwise, according to their “Karma” (deeds)


The “Karma” has a very interesting role in the composition of the rats inside the temple. The one with good deeds behind them rule the inner sanctrum of the temple which is equivalent to heaven. This heaven has abundant supply of food and milk so that none is famished. Also, they are close to the mother. But the outer sanctrum has the rats living in sort of hell because of dearth of foods and soaring temperatures. Moreover, the rats from hell are not allowed to enter the heaven and if they try, they are chased away.


These rats, no, Kabas are sacred. The number of rats increase as one moves inside. So better, drag your feet as you enter the innermost sanctrum so as to avoid stepping on them. If you kill any of them, you will have to offer a golden or silver rat equal to the weight of the dead rat. Even more propitious is the sighting of white rat. The locals say that the white rat and its family is special favourite of mother. One will always see people hunting for white rat, not to kill them, but to have one look at them.


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