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 to Ashwin Shukla Dashmi.
Karni Mata was an ascetic who led a righteous life dedicated to
the service and uplifting 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 Kami 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 blessing.
The temple is thrown open to the public early in the morning at
4.00 a.m. Charan priests perform Mangla-Ki-Aarti and offer bhog
(special food) as worship. A peculiar characteristic of
the temple is the legion of brown cats roaming about in large
numbers in the temple. They are considered auspicious and the
devotees make offerings. Two kinds of offerings, the 'dwar-bhent'
is attributed to the priests and the workers. The 'kalash-bhent'
is utilised for the temple maintenance and development.