Karni Mata Festival
from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi
The famous 600 year-old Karni Mata temple, near Bikaner in Rajasthan, is home to thousands of rats. They're considered to be sacred, and are offered food and protection. The temple is dedicated to an ancient mystic who's believed to have been a reincarnation of the Goddess Durga. Interestingly, the souls of Karni Mata's devotees are said to reside in the rats.
Twice a year, pilgrims flock to the Karni Mata temple to worship Goddess Durga and her incarnations. The largest of these festivals takes place in March-April, during Navratras (from Chaitra Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi) on the Hindu calendar. The second smaller festival is held in October-November, also during the Navratras (from Ashvin Shukla to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi).
The doors of the Karni Mata temple are thrown open at 4 a.m. for worship and blessing. Food is offered to the deity, and it's considered most auspicious to eat what the rats have salivated over. If you can brave it, letting them scamper over your feet is said to bring good luck as well. And if you see a rare white rat, plenty of good fortunate will come your way!
How to Get There: The Karni Mata temple is located in Deshnok village, around 45 minutes south of Bikaner in the desert state of Rajasthan. Take either a bus or a taxi.
Where to Stay: It's best to stay in Bikaner, where accommodation is prevalent, and go on a day trip to the temple.