Karni Mata Fair is held twice a year at Deshnok, a small
town near Nokha in Bikaner district. The first
and larger fair is held in March-April during the Navratras from Chaitra
Shukla Ekam to Chaitra Shukla Dashmi. The second fair is held in
September- October, also during the Navratras, from Ashvin Shukla Ekam to
Ashwin Shukla Dashmi.
Karni Mata was an ascetic who led a righteous life dedicated to the service and upliftment of the poor and downtrodden of all communities. It is believed that she possessed supernatural powers. The foundation of Deshnok was laid by her and she has been worshipped as a goddess by her principal followers, 'Charans', as well as the rulers of Bikaner, who regarded her as the patron deity. The Karni Mata Fair is held in her honour.
The Karni Mata Temple at Deshnok is a stone and marble structure and is also known as Madh. Inside the shrine, a 75 cms. image of Karni Mata adorned with a 'mukut' (tiara) and garlands is installed. Her image is accompanied by the images of her sisters and the sisters of Avad Mata. The Rajputs bring their children on 'jadula' (their first hair cut) and place them at the deity's feet for blessings. Most of the people come to the shrine from Bikaner, Hanumangarh, Ganganagar and Churu Districts.
WORSHIP & RITUALS
The temple is thrown open to the public early in the morning at 4.00 am. Charan priests perform Mangla -Ki-Aarti and offer 'bhog' (special food) as worship.
A peculiar characteristic of the temple is the legion of brown rats roaming about in large numbers in the temple. They are considered to be auspicious and the devotees make offerings to these rats. Two kinds of offerings are made to Karni Mata. The 'Dwar Bhent' is distributed to the priests and the workers. The 'Kalash Bhent' is utilised for the temple maintenance and development.
During the Karni Mata Fair in Chaitra, (March- April) special buses and trains carry the pilgrims to Deshnok. It is connected by rail and road with Bikaner, Nagaur, Jodhpur and Jaipur and regular buses ply on these routes.