What do bikes and rats have in common? Nothing much, right? The people of Jodhpur think otherwise.
Rajasthan is known as the land of wonders and thus one can expect a mystery unwinding in every nook and corner of the State. But in the city of Jodhpur, things might just be a little bit weirder.
Jodhpur, the second largest city of Rajasthan is not only famous for its jalebis and the mesmerizing Mehrangar Fort but also for its peculiar temples. From temples dedicated to rats and to motorcycles – they have it all. Yes, you read that right, there is a whole temple dedicated to a 350cc Royal Enfield Bullet and here goes the story behind it…
Om Banna aka Bullet Banna is a shrine dedicated to a deity in the form of a motorcycle. This motorcycle was a part of the wealth of Shri Om Singh Rathore. On 2nd December,1988 Om Banna was travelling from one town to another during which he lost control of his bike and struck a tree. He was killed instantaneously. The police took the bike into custody and slept peacefully thinking that the case was put to an end. The next day, to the Policemen’s horror the bike was reported to have disappeared from police custody and was found back at the crime scene. That night the police decided to trap it with chains, empty its fuel tank and lock it into a garage. All of this was in vain because the motorcycle was found yet again at the crime scene! Legend states that the motorcycle kept returning to the same ditch. It thwarted every attempt by police to keep it at the local police station; the motorcycle was always returned to the same spot before dawn. Pure sorcery, isn’t it? This came to be seen as a miracle by the locals and they started worshipping the Bullet Bike. It is said that the spirit of Om Banna protects the travelers and ensures them of a safe journey. However, if you do not stop and pray to Om Banna..You’re in for a dangerous journey. Beware folks, apparently supernatural bikes can decide whether you live or not.
And as if that wasn’t bizarre enough, Jodhpur has even more to offer.
Do you think that rats are worshipped in India only because they are the ‘vaahans’ of Lord Ganapati? Apparently not.
Jodhpur has a temple dedicated to rats! Yes, these pests can potentially cause plagues and a number of other epidemics. But they are worthy of being worshipped, of course. This Hindu temple dedicated to Karni Mata is also known as the temple of rats. The temple is famous for the approximately 20,000 black rats that live, and are revered, in the temple. These holy rats are called kabbas, and many people travel great distances to pay their respects to these rodent deities. The temple draws visitors from across the country for blessings, as well as curious tourists from around the world. So it’s a big thumbs up on the foreign revenue that these rats help bring.
Legend has it that Laxman, Karni’s stepson drowned in a pond while attempting to drink from it. Karni implored Yama, the god of death, to revive him. First refusing, Yama eventually gave in, permitting Laxman and all of Karni mata’s male children to be reincarnated as rats.
The story behind rats at the temple is different according to some local folklore. According to this version, a 20,000 strong army deserted a nearby battle and came running to Deshnoke. Upon learning of the sin of desertion, punishable by death, Karni Mata spared their lives but turned them into rats, and offered the temple as a future place to stay.
However the few white rats that reside in this temple are considered even more auspicious as they are said to be reincarnations of Karni Maa herself
Eating food that has been nibbled on by the rats is not a health hazard anymore but is considered to be a high honour.
– Rtr Rima Jain
Rotaract Club of NM College