India // Rajasthan //

The Deshnok Devi

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Members of the Charan caste of musicians believe that incarnations of the goddess Durga periodically appear among them, one of whom was Karni Mata, born at a village near Phalodi in 1387, who went on to perform miracles such as water divination and bringing the dead back to life, eventually becoming the region’s most powerful cult leader. According to legend, one of Karni Mata’s followers came to her because her son was grievously ill, but by the time they got to him, he had died. Karni Mata went to Yama, the god of the underworld, to ask for him back, but Yama refused. Knowing that of all the creatures upon the earth, only rats were outside Yama’s dominion, Karni Mata decreed that all Charans would henceforth be reincarnated as rats, thus escaping Yama’s power. It is these sacred rats (kabas) that inhabit the Deshnok temple.

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