South Asia | Snake charming is child's play in an Indian village
  • Hanging around. A boy poses with his snake. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Hanging around. A boy poses with his snake. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Cold comfort. Children of a snake charmer prepare dinner outside their home. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Cold comfort. Children of a snake charmer prepare dinner outside their home. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Love is blind. Ashiq Nath poses with a cobra in Jogi Dera, the snake charmers' settlement. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Love is blind. Ashiq Nath poses with a cobra in Jogi Dera, the snake charmers' settlement. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Some TLC. A snake charmer cleans the eyes of his snake in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Some TLC. A snake charmer cleans the eyes of his snake in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Morning exercise. A daughter of a snake charmer holds snakelets as she eats her breakfast in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Morning exercise. A daughter of a snake charmer holds snakelets as she eats her breakfast in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Burning bright. Children of snake charmers sit next to a fire on a cold winter evening in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Burning bright. Children of snake charmers sit next to a fire on a cold winter evening in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Keeping watch. A baby rests in a hammock as a cobra is below him in Jogi Dera, in the village of Baghpur, in the central state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Keeping watch. A baby rests in a hammock as a cobra is below him in Jogi Dera, in the village of Baghpur, in the central state of Uttar Pradesh, India. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • It's gotta be dung. A son of a snake charmer collects buffalo dung to use as cooking fuel. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    It's gotta be dung. A son of a snake charmer collects buffalo dung to use as cooking fuel. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Perfect coil. Manish Nath holds a snake for a photograph in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Perfect coil. Manish Nath holds a snake for a photograph in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Lone figure. A wife of a snake charmer stands inside a burnt part of her house in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Lone figure. A wife of a snake charmer stands inside a burnt part of her house in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Star turn. The back of a cobra in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Star turn. The back of a cobra in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • In command. Ravi Nath poses with a cobra. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    In command. Ravi Nath poses with a cobra. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
  • Bare necessities. Posters are seen inside a house of a snake charmer in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi
    Bare necessities. Posters are seen inside a house of a snake charmer in Jogi Dera. Photo: Reuters/Adnan Abidi

Simply child's play

Descendants of an ancient tribe of snake charmers in Jogi Dera show how even children handle the cobras with ease

January 28, 2017 10:20 PM (UTC+8)

In the Indian settlement of Jogi Dera, snake charmers known as Saperas lure cobras from baskets by playing and waving gourd flutes, a tradition handed down over centuries.

Jogi Dera is in the village of Baghpur, in the central state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Saperas’ tribal ancestors made their living catching venomous snakes and making them dance to music.

“More than seven generations of our families have been doing this and so are we,” Buti Nath, 65, told Reuters Television. “We are called upon whenever there are dangerous animals coming into your houses or in your fields – we go and catch them with courage.”

Snakes are revered by Hindus in India and snake charmers are considered the followers of Lord Shiva, the blue-skinned god who is usually portrayed wearing a king cobra around his neck.

While crowds are often mesmerized by the charmers’ close proximity to the deadly cobras they control, many of the snakes used in performances have been defanged.

The video below is a 360º perspective filmed by Adnan Abidi to go with the slideshow of photos.


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