Unusual Temples: Why People Adore Rats and Snakes
It is known that for Eastern religions, Buddhism and Hinduism are characterized by a respectful attitude towards animals. This is quite logical, because Buddhism teaches us to love all living beings, and the followers of Hinduism generally believe that after the death of a person his soul can be reborn in the body of an animal.
For example, in the Indian city of Deshnok in Rajasthan, there is a temple where rats are worshiped. In the temple of St. Karni Mata live about 20,000 rats. The servants of the temple and local residents take care of animals, clean the room and chase birds of prey. Rats feed mainly on sweets and milk, bowls with which are placed all over the floor. Only the diseases associated with malnutrition (for example, diabetes) and self-regulation restrain the growth of the rodent population in the temple – aggression towards tribesmen wakes up in crowded animals.
Karni Mata lived in the 14th century and was widely revered as the embodiment of the goddess Durga during her lifetime. It is believed that she not only knew how to perform miracles and led a saintly righteous life but was also an outstanding political figure. But, unfortunately, misfortunes happen to the saints. Once in the city of Deshnok, the stepson Karni Mata drowned in a pond. A heartbroken woman begged Yama, the Indian god of death, to resurrect the boy, but he refused. In response to this, the saint declared that from now on, none of her relatives would go to Yama after death. Instead, they will temporarily occupy the body of the rodents, and in the next cycle of rebirth become human again.
Several hundred families from Deshynok claim to be descendants of Karni Mata, so the rats here are provided with first-class care. The accidental killing of a rat (the fact that it can be done intentionally here even to no one doesn’t occur) is considered a serious crime among believers, and in order to atone for such a sin, it is necessary to sacrifice a full-size silver or golden rat figurine.
Every day the temple is visited by hundreds of pilgrims and just curious tourists. If you decide to join them, please note that you can only go into its territory, as in any other Hindu temple, barefoot. And yes, the likelihood that a rat will run along your leg is very high.
By the way, from the point of view of sanitation, it is considered safe to visit this strange sight. So in Deshinoke since the foundation of the temple in the 15th century, there was not a single plague epidemic.
But the Snake Temple on the Malay Island of Penang safe you will not name, after all, it really teems with poisonous snakes. Reptiles feel masters here and crawl freely everywhere – on the floor, on statues and altars. There are several legends explaining the attachment of snakes to this place. One of them says that the animals themselves slip into the temple in order to commemorate the monk Chor Soo Kong, in whose honor he was founded by Chinese settlers. It is believed that during the life of this monk was the patron saint of snakes. The second version sounds more believable. The temple was built in 1850, while people just started settling the island of Penang, actively cutting down the surrounding jungle. Snakes, whose habitat was destroyed, often crawled into the peasant dwellings, where, of course, they were not happy and if possible they tried to kill them. And only the monks of the temple were friendly to them and gave shelter.
Today, monks bring snakes to the temple themselves – this allows you to maintain its popularity and collect good donations. Snakes are made safe by decanting the poison. But we still recommend carefully look at your feet.