World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

In every bazar and at every festival

In the past, they were a common sight at markets and festivals. Today, snake charmers have become rare.

World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

Honoring Shiva

Snake charmers worship the blue-skinned Indian god Shiva, who is usually depicted with a king cobra coiled around his neck.

World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

Healing snake bites

People used to visit a snake charmer when they were bitten by a snake. Today, they go to see a doctor, as long as one is available.

World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

Coming home

After months of travelling, a snake charmer returns to his native village Baghpur in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh.

World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

The village of snake charmers

In the village of Baghpur many families are still making a living from their old tradition. However, they have a hard time to make ends meet. The average income is just 200 rupees (about 3 euros) a day - hardly enough to feed a family.

World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

Playing with snakes

While she is munching on her breakfast, this little girl plays with two snakes. Even young children are familiar with the reptiles.

World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

The next generation

Today, fewer and fewer learn the art of snake charming. Many consider it to be outdated and something that does not fit into modern India.

World Snake Day: India's vanishing snake charmers

Animal protection

Snake charming became officially illegal in 1991. But for many years, the government has not been very strict on enforcing the ban. This is supposed to change and could be the deathblow for the snake charmers of Baghpur.

The centuries-old art of snake charming in India has been on the decline for some time. The charmers have a hard time making a living and the Indian government has been strict about protecting the animals.