The Art Of The Snake Charmer

India is famous as the land of snake charmers, but these specilaits had a philosophy and trapped snakes. Snakes as we know are abundant in India.
The Art of the Snake Charmer
Source - uploaded by author from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snake_charming#/media/File:Snakecharmers.jpg

 There was a time when India was known as the nation of the proverbial rope trick and the snake charmers.  Both these so called magical tricks are peculiar to India, though there is a record of snake charmers in ancient Egypt and Africa as well.. The art of snake charmers flourished in India mainly because of the proliferation of snakes in the sub-continent. The lethal cobra is the most prevalent snake in Indian jungles and also has a sacred connotation and the snake in the form of the Nag Deva (God of snakes) is worshiped in the Hindu religion. The

Bhil Mahabharata has a special reference to the Nag Deva or snake god called Visaka who seduces Draupadi the wife of the Pandavas and makes ferocious love to her. The Bhils are a tribe in Madhya Pradesh.

With a plethora of snakes in India, death by snake bites was common. Hence the snake charmer appeared. It was his job to trap the cobra. The aim was however never to kill it, but use it as a pet or a part of a ritual in a temple.  However before doing any of these things the snake charmer always defanged the snakes. These snake charmers followed a hereditary profession and from childhood learnt to trap snakes by blowing conch shells. These conch shells had special acoustic vibrations that enticed snakes out of their dens and the snake charmers could then catch them. 

 Snake charmers have existed in India for centuries and


paintings are available from the Mughal period to show that snake charmers were a class that had a special role.  The conch shells are handmade and some scientists have tried to duplicate these conch shells in a laboratory, but success is limited. The snake gets enticed by the sound or tune emanating from the Conch shell and gets trapped. In the villages of India snake charmers are still in some abundance. Snake bites are also common and many villagers still die of snake bites. In such a scenario the snake charmer has a definite role. He is peculiar to the sub-continent and one has not heard of a snake charmer in America or Russia.

Snake charmers since olden times were also healers and had the ability to draw out the poison from a man’s body if bitten by a snake. Thus most villagers if bitten by a snake rushed to a snake charmer. This has now gone down with anti- venom vaccine made available by the government of India in most health centers in villages. However snake charmers are a big tourist attraction and in most village fairs they are an important fixture. Western tourists are fascinated by the snake charmers who are a breed apart. The art of the snake charmer is dying and it is about time the government stepped in and gave some oxygen to this art.



Article Written By Madan G Singh

An early retired Gp Capt from Air Force who is an Executive Director in the Corporate world. Loves to write fiction and articles. Published over 60 short stories and his novel" Romance of the Frontier" is published from Notion Books.His second novel is on way for publication. The author also has close to 10,000 articles on the b net with millions of views

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