Street Snakes first impressions of jaipur by elise williams

Since childhood, they’ve migrated from place to place, spending their lives on the grounds of the city streets. They work in conditions unlike most, yet have a truly incredible job. This is the story of the snake charmers of India.

Jartice Nath and Kahnu Nath are the men behind this truly fascinating occupation, with which carries a tradition hundreds of centuries old. These men, like most other snake charmers across India, were born into this unique profession, in which is past down generationally. There are such a small number of snake charmers in India, that the majority have the same surname, although are not immediately related.

Their surname, in fact, is a nod to their livelihood, with the Nath name often accredit to Indian men and women whom work in lower class jobs, especially in the unambiguous area of street performing. Nath has officially been listed by the Indian government as a name thought to be of an Other Backward Class (OBC), meaning that by carrying the surname Nath, the snake charmers are officially recognised as socially and educationally disadvantaged.

This recognition came after a change in law in 1972, in which the ownership of a serpent was prohibited. Following the modification in laws, many snake charmers lost their only form of livelihood, falling into the malicious poverty cycle. Translator, Aman Dutta, explained that “they need to make their livelihood from this, from working this; they are just as poor as migrants,” following a conversation in Hindi with the snake charmers.

The Indian government’s recognition of the disadvantaged is specific to all who share the Nath name, which means snake charmers are now able to legally own and work with serpents, continuing the long practiced art of snake charming.

Created By
Elise Williams

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