Snake charmers


Snake charming is practiced largely in india and some neighboring countries, in which the snake charmer plays and waves around an instrument called Pungi and appears to hypnotize a snake. The snake charmers carry with them a small whicker basket that can hold up to 3 cobras at a time. The snakes can measure upto 4 feet in length .


The Snake charmer plays the ‘pungi’ or a ‘been’ to which the snake rises and appears to be dancing along the movement and the music of the pungi. This seems hypnotic, since the snake cannot hear, yet  it seems to be connected to the music  of the pungi , outstretching its hood, eyes focused on the pungi and scales shining in the sun – magically enticing the onlookers.


This art is native to a semi nomadic tribe in India called ' Sapera'. Saperas across the country live in the outskirts of the city in large groups or villages. This folk art is passed down the generations. Most saperas adorn a saffron or red turban, white kurta and typically wear earrings and jewelry made of shells .

The snakes on which this art is performed are released in the wild periodically.


After the law forbidding the practice was enforced , this lifestyle is slowly endangered and the  next generation is finding newer ways of livelihood . A number of snake charmers are finding alternate professions .It is a matter of time before this folk art becomes extinct from the streets of India.

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