Visiting India as a tourist provides an opportunity to absorb experiences far different than we are used to in the West. Even walking in the streets can be an example of what it’s like to be immersed in a completely different culture. Many of the tourist spots reflect this as well, particularly the Karni Mata Temple. What makes it different? Try 20,000 rats!
Yes, the Hindu temple contains 20,000 rats, and they are considered holy. The legend is that a storyteller’s son died, and begged the God of Death to bring him back to life. The God eventually did so, reincarnating the man and his children into these rats. Another story is that 20,000 soldiers abandoned their post, and were turned into rats rather than being executed.
Part of the legend is that eating the same food the rats have nibbled on is a blessed act (Westerners may want to steer clear of this one just as you would at home!) White rats are in the temple as well, but rare to spot. They are considered extremely holy, and locals will try to draw them out with special food.
When you visit, you may be expected to make offerings to the rats themselves, the priests, and the temple itself for its maintenance. There are two festivals per year that center on the temple, in the spring and the fall. Thousands of people will walk to the temple barefoot as a part of the rituals.