Are animals (e.g. dogs) allowed inside Hindu temples?

Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

Thank you for the A2A.

There are several temples in India that are famous for allowing animals like dogs, rats, snakes, roosters, monkeys, cows, etc. in its premises. They are not harmed or shooed away by the temple authorities or by the devotees.

Parassinikadavu Temple, Kannur, Kerala

This is the entrance to the temple. It is guarded by the statues of two dogs. Huge dogs freely roam the premises and partake of the offerings given to the deity. During the evening puja, one of the highlights is the entry of two dogs towards the end of the puja to have the prasaad. Dogs are considered to be sacred here. There are bronze statues of dogs near the sanctum sanctorum too.

Karni Mata Temple, Bikaner, Rajasthan

This temple is famous for the 20,000 black rats that live and thrive here. From the Wikipedia page,

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. The temple draws visitors from across the country for blessings, as well as curious tourists from around the world.

Out of all of the thousands of rats in the temple, there are a few white rats, which are considered to be especially holy. They are believed to be the manifestations of Karni Mata herself and her four sons. Sighting them is a special blessing and visitors put in extensive efforts to bring them forth, offering prasad, a sweet holy food.

Mannarsala Temple, Haripad, Kerala

Spotting snakes at temples is not such a big deal in India. Snakes are revered and respected in Hinduism. There are many temples dedicated to snakes. In Kerala, the most famous one is the Mannarsala Temple.

The temple premises are dotted with thousands of carved figurines of Nagaraja and Nagayakshi, the male and female manifestations of the serpent God. It is not uncommon to spot a couple of random snakes lying casually coiled among the figurines. The temple is exceptionally quiet at all times as snakes do not like too much disturbance. They are reclusive and seldom come out of hiding. But it is common knowledge that there are plenty of them within the temple compound. The place resembles a very large serpent grove.

One of the most striking aspects of this temple is that it does not have a chief priest. It has a chief priestess. Only a woman is allowed to do the main pujas in this temple. Men are strictly only for assisting the Valiya Amma, as she is reverentially addressed.

Annapoorneshwari Temple, Pazhayannur, Kerala

This temple is famous for the hundreds of well-fed roosters that freely roam its premises. They are seen all over the place.

Sharing an excerpt from a travelogue by a visitor…

During my visit there in March 2011, I experienced a very strange ritual that I had never heard of – the offering of live roosters & feeding them as an act of worship. People believe that these are Divine Mother’s favorite; hence, by this act their wishes will be fulfilled. They say that when in old times the temple and the area around it was under an attack, Divine Mother appeared in forms of thousands of roosters, assaulting the enemy soldiers with their piercing beaks, knife-like claws & high-pitched sharp sounds and won a victory over them. So, the belief is that the act offering live roosters to Ma & feeding them would burn the evil and destroy the enemies.

Going back to that odd yet kindly & pleasant ritual – something that we don’t see around. Many innocent animals & birds are sacrificed in the name of religion & a visit to such a place was indeed a joy, especially for a person like me who is deeply in love with animals & birds. What a wonderful sight it was – so unexpected, so rare, so touching.


Galtaji Temple, Jaipur, Rajasthan

Although monkeys are a common sight in most temples across India, this particular temple in Rajasthan is very famous for having an abnormally high number of these primates living and thriving in its premises.

There are both rhesus macaques and langur monkeys that inhabit the temple. There are over 200 hundred monkeys living within the temple complex and the macaque monkeys live in groups of four females to every male.

Cows, bulls, horses, donkeys…they are all found in plenty in our temples. No animals are hurt as it is believed that they are under the explicit protection of the deity of the temple they reside in.

Are animals (e.g. dogs) allowed inside Hindu temples?

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