Rats Rule at Indian Temple

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The temple draws Hindu visitors from across the country hoping for blessings, as well as curious tourists from around the world. Inside, where shoes are not permitted, tourists and worshippers alike hope to have rats run across their feet for good luck.

Eating food or drinking water that previously has been sampled by a rat is considered to be a supreme blessing. But there is one rare blessing that draws the most attention: the sighting of a white rat.

Out of all of the thousands of rats in the temple, there are said to be four or five white rats, which are considered to be especially holy. They are believed be the manifestations of Karni Mata herself and her kin. Sighting them is a special charm, and visitors put in extensive efforts to bring them forth, offering prasad, a candylike food.

Unlike the rest of the world, where rats are commonly killed for inhabiting the same space as humans, in this temple the rat residents are treated with sincere devotion. The veneration is so complete that if someone accidentally steps on a rat and kills it, they are expected to buy a gold or silver rat and place it in the temple as atonement.

For an animal that is commonly associated with pestilence and disease, this may seem strange. But during the century of this temple's existence, there has never been an outbreak of plague or other ratborne illness among the humans who have visited—which may be a miracle in itself.

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