The Karni Mata temple at Deshnoke, 30 km from Bikaner, in its present form was completed in the early 20th century in the late Mughal style by Maharaja Ganga Singh of Bikan. Throughout the year, pilgrims from around India visit to pay religious tribute to Karni Mata at the Deshnoke temple. If one of the rats is killed, it must be replaced with one made of solid gold. Sighting a white rat amidst hordes of black rats is considered specially auspicious. The 14th century mystic and an incarnation of Hindu goddess Durga, implored Yama, the god of death, to restore the life of the son of one of her storyteller. Yama refused, and Karni Mata incarnated the dead son and all of the storytellers as a rat, under her protection.
© Sandra Brandeis Crawford