Updated: Mar 18, 2019
In the last decade of photographing snake charmers, I can see this folk art slowly fading away. Once a common sight on the streets- a red turbaned man carrying a bamboo pole with whicker baskets or pots hanging from each end.
These snake charmers can now be found only in some remote villages or assigned tourist spots . This is because of the 1972 wildlife act enforced by the government of India that made capturing snakes illegal. This along with multiple other factors such as advent of television, various means of entertainment, rising middle class etc has made finding these snake charmers nudge their way for survival.
When I find a snake charmer on a street he is willing to put on a show for a small tip of a dollar or two. It is an enigma how a snake dances to the music of the instrument that the snake charmer plays. The snake magically rises and dances in the direction of the Pungi.
Hinduism has had a sacred place for snakes and it is associated to many gods in folktales. Thus snakes and snake charmers become specially relevant during some specific festivals. However these days snake charmers are far and few and not easily seen anymore.
This art is inherited- passed on from one generation to other but the next generation is finding newer professions to earn livelihood, it is a matter of time before this art becomes extinct from the streets of India. So while I can , I travel an extra mile , get up and close with my camera to the snake and capture as many moments of this hypnotic ,ancient and historic art .
Most of the snake charmers that I have photographed are from the region of Rajasthan .