A Snake Charmer's Story

A snake charmer is also known as sapera in Hindi. The snake charmers of Rajasthan are from Kalbelia community. A snake charmer plays been and the snake dances to its tune. A been is made of hollow pumpkin and tubes and is played the way a flute is played.

A snake charmer

Snake charmer can catch any snake. It is a child's play for him. The knowledge about snake comes from the family. They have a long tradition of catching and keeping snakes.


Before television became popular, snake charmers were quite popular. They travelled from one place to another. They entertained people by showing the dance of snakes to the tune of been. They also sold some medicines which are made from herbs from forests. Snake charmers could save many lives when someone was bitten by a snake.

A snake has two hollow teeth. These are known as fangs. These are like needles of an injection. A snake injects its venom through its fangs. A snake charmer can take out poison from a snake.

But very few snakes are poisonous. Most of the snakes are non-poisonous. Only four types of snakes in India are poisonous. They are Cobra, Common Krait, Russel's Viper (Duboiya) and Saw-scaled Viper (Afai).

Cobra Snake

Fig: Cobra

Krait Snake

Fig: Common Krait

Duboya Snake

Fig: Russel's Viper

Afai Snake

Fig: Saw scale Viper

Snakes are important part of a snake charmer's life. The kalbelia dance has many moves similar to the moves of snakes. When a kalbelia girl is married, she is given a snake as a gift.

But government has made a law which makes it illegal to catch or keep snakes. Now, snake charmers are left with very few means of livelihood.

Snakes are useful for the environment. Rats destroy crops by eating them. Snakes eat rats. Thus, snakes help farmers in protecting the crop.


Exercise Questions

Write

Question 1: Like snake-charmers, which other people depend on animals for their livelihood?

Answer: Following people depend on animals for their livelihood:

Survey: People who keep animals

Question 2: Talk to some people in your neighbourhood who keep one or more animals for their livelihood–for example, a horse for a tonga, hens for eggs, etc.

(a) Name the animal they keep?

Answer: A tonga or buggy owner keeps horses, a chicken seller keeps hens, a milkman keeps cows and buffaloes

(b) How many animals are there?

Answer: Buggy owner has two horses, the milkman has five cows and two buffaloes, a1nd the chicken seller has fifty hens


(c) Is there a separate place for the animals?

Answer: Horses live in stable, cows and buffaloes live in shed, and hens live in cage

(d) Who looks after them?

Answer: The owners look after their animals

(e) What do the animals eat?

Answer: Horses eat grass and black gram

(f) Do the animals ever fall ill? What does the keeper do then?

Answer: Some animals do fall ill sometimes. The veterinary doctor comes to treat a sick animal.



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