When Pests Are Not Pests – But Worshipped And Fed


I am a pest control sleuthThe real fun of a survey is in chasing and cracking clues about the existence of unwelcome pests, identifying the hot spots, and recommending defence mechanisms or solutions. A bit like Sherlock Holmes… trying to unravel the mystery of that chewed up foam, or maybe the itching bite marks on your person.

And now imagine, a mob of culprits making a mockery of you and running all over the place. So much that you actually make a pilgrimage to meet up with the pests. Welcome to Karni Mata temple, at Deshnoke, Rajasthan, India.

The temple is famous for its rats, as they get more than a special treatment here. Supposedly there are some 20,000 rats living inside temple premises, being well-fed by pilgrims. Rats are considered as pests elsewhere, so obviously, there must be story behind the rats of Karni Mata temple.

Rats feeding in the temple

It is a nice legend. Karni Mata was a female Hindu sage born in 1287; already at a very early age she performed miracle healings.  After pursuing a nomadic life, she finally settled in Deshnoke. Rats became holy in her temple, when her stepson died and she attempted to bring him back to life, but the god of Death, Yama, refused, stating that the child had already been reincarnated. However, Karni Mata managed to strike a deal with Yama that henceforth all her followers would be reborn as rats.

Ever since, rats are considered as holy in the temple and worshippers take the pilgrimage. There are a few white rats in the Karni Mata temple, seeing these or even being able to be touched by these is considered a lucky charm.

more rats in the temple

Given the huge number of rats, there have never been any outbreaks of the plague in this area. This can be attributed to rats being very territorial and pushing out any intruders, thus keeping infected rats out of the premises.

Keeping pests at bay is our job and our passion. However, I doubt if the passion is sufficient enough to build a shrine. And considering previous posts on this blog about Rentokil ruining things, I guess this would be one of the five places Rentokil would have ruined.

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