Last Updated on December 5, 2019 by asoulwindow
This blog is a part of my series on the Pushkar fair of Rajasthan in Incredible India. I traveled solo in shoestring budget to Pushkar fair. Check out all my blogs in the series which apart from many interesting aspects of Pushkar fair, lists down information like – Best time to go to Pushkar, Best things to eat in Pushkar Fair, How to reach Pushkar Fair, Offbeat things to do in Pushkar etc. This blog is about the Cobras of Pushkar fair and snake charmers and rural acrobats of Pushkar fair, Rajasthan. It’s annual cattle fair of Rajasthan! Incredible India!
In Poha paradise. Pushkar fair, Rajasthan. Incredible India!
I woke up early morning in Pushkar and had fresh Poha (flat rice flakes, fried with potatoes and peas) from a ‘thela’ (hand cart) . All sorts of tourists and devotees , both foreign and Indians had inundated the narrow streets and alleys.
I smiled when I saw a little boy struggling to paste this outside his home: ‘Urinating prohibited; fine Rs.10’. A religious procession near the Pushkar lake distracted me. The roads were strewn with orange marigold flowers. The pleasant smell of marigold wafted through the air as people walked on the flower carpet.
A COBRA, 2 GUINEA PIGS AND A KID WITH MUSTACHE! ONLY AT PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN.
I rushed to the Stadium aka ‘Pushkar Mela ground’. As soon as I entered the stadium, the first thing I saw was a mob arranged in a circle, all eyes down. Crowd mostly comprised of village folks and some curious foreigners.
I made my way through the crowd and saw a man , a cobra , 2 guinea pigs and a child with a fake mustache. What’s going on? It was a snake charmer, the kind I had seen for the first time. OK , I have seen the ones with monkeys and snake (Which Indian has not?). But this was different.
Pushkar was full of them. Their income depends solely on the tips given by the onlookers. Later in the day, I saw another father-son duo with a snake, a plastic crocodile and a plastic frog.
The child was casually goofing around with the snake and the father was busy defending his magic being challenged by some of the audiences. More than the silly magic shows, what was amusing was the chemistry and funny banter between the duo.
The child was precocious and good at witty retorts and repartee. I stood for around half an hour expecting something to happen between the real Cobra (snake) and the plastic snake, frog and croc.
The snake charmer I had observed have this modus-operandi of creating a mystery over some object such as making the gullible crowd curious to find out what lies inside, say , a closed box.
Given the short attention span of people they have to use this trick to keep the crowd glued to their ‘pay as you will’ show. Plus they speak very passionately and enthusiastically with right voice modulations to keep the interest level high.
THE AUDIENCE WILL BE INSULTED,
BE IT JAMA MASJID OR PUSHKAR FAIR!
They don’t hesitate in insulting the people in audience (and getting away with it). The victims are usually those who are not paying attention/questioning his tricks/not willing to pay etc! I was amused at this headmasteresque disciplining.
I remember, seeing one such show somewhere in Meena Bazaar outside the Jama Masjid in Chandni Chowk, New Delhi. The snake charmer there was good at fooling people but more than that he was good at insulting people at slightest of provocation.
Magic show may include some card games (Taash), popping out a stone from your mouth etc. (Picture above) It’s amusing but thanks to the repetitiveness it gets boring after a while. I have first time seen such shows. I had always known how India till some years ago was still perceived in the West as a land of snake charmers and madaris and sadhus. What I didn’t know that they still exist in all their finery.
THE SNAKE CHARMER WHO WAS KEEN ON CONNING ME AT PUSHKAR FAIR!
While exiting this area, I started photographing a sapera (snake charmer), thanks to his quirky dressing. He soon approached me and started reading some scary sounding mantra.
Then he opened his wooden box, and pop came out a menacing looking Indian Cobra intimidating me with his raised hood. Then he started playing his ‘been’ (musical instrument) for a special snake dance for me. He took out some weird torn paper, very small in size, and claimed that if I kept it in my wallet, my ‘kismet’ (luck) will take a U turn for good. I said my ‘No Thanks!’ and ran away, not having the heart to tell him that I am a hard core atheist and a wrong person to sell your superstition to. He and his snake did look offended when I turned down this ‘golden opportunity.’
RESPONSIBLE TOURISM AT PUSHKAR FAIR, RAJASTHAN
I am against the use of snakes or any other animal/bird/reptile for use of human entertainment. This blog only documents what I saw. I don’t support such acts and wish for ban on the same. As a travel writer it’s my duty to report with detachment. I also condemn the use of camels and elephant for human entertainment. I reported about that in my other blog. (Pls see links below). I request you to not encourage snake charmers or take animal rides. If you do, you contribute to the misery of a living breathing animal who is supposed to roam free, just like you and me.
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17 thoughts on “COBRAS AT PUSHKAR FAIR- IS INCREDIBLE INDIA STILL A LAND OF SNAKE CHARMERS?”
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It looks like the Pushkar Fair is the place to go for snake charmers and cobras. I would be a little nervous around these snakes. I can imagine quite a few of the charmers try to con people – or extort money some way. Your photography in this post is excellent and very colorful!
I can actually imagine you enraged and amused at the same time when you saw this. It is sad that this still prevails and animals are drugged for this. I hope with better reach, this can be discontinued. Lovely images you have captured
Snakes and snake charmers do have a morbid kind of fascination for me. One childhood memory is of a snake charmer arriving near our house and all the kids rushing there in excitement and then the “show” would begin. But seriously my heart reaches out to the poor snakes. In spite of wildlife laws, snakes are illtreated openly.
Well I sincerely thought that India had moved away from it image of land of snake charmers but these pictures and acts at Pushkar make me rethink. This post was interesting as well as shocking to read.
Poha paradise sounds fun to me.
This is quite interesting, I never noticed a single person with a phone (or in their phone) in the pics. This a great article that showcases some of Indian culture and what others do for entertainment.
Your Pushkar documentation has been very offbeat and unique. I was tired of seeing the same old posts on Pushkar this is refreshing and it does not paint a rosy picture like most other blogs do:)
Thanks Divyakshi. You made my day.
What satisfies me most about this post is your concerns about the use of wild animals for human entertainment which I, myself, also strongly oppose to. I love the photos that you have taken and your captions are really interesting! Thanks for sharing your experience and hopefully, we’ll see more posts about your trips in the future!
I agree that such use of wild animals should be banned, and glad to see that you have such a note about that at the end of your post. It seems that these natural entertainers would surely be able to create an act to hold the crowd’s attention without use of the snake, to be honest.
This festival looks really fascinating, but I can’t say I would be eager to see the snake charmers. Like you I feel we shouldn’t exploit animals for our entertainment. I’m sure there were lots of other interesting things to focus on at the Pushkar Fair.
To be completely honest with you, there is nothing in the world that terrifies me more than snakes, so I would want to stay far away from here. I actually accidentally came upon a snake charmer in Morocco while wandering around the main plaza and nearly had a heart attack. Haha I know it’s irrational, but I literally had to tape shut the pages in my science book with snakes on them as a kid so I wouldn’t accidentally flip to them, so whether real or fake, snakes are not my friends! I can totally see how this would be a really cool experience for someone who doesn’t have an irrational fear of snakes like I do though!
Wow, what an interesting read! I don’t have any experience with snake charmers and find it interesting to find out about the real/unreal snakes. The cobra looks really scary though! Love from Hamburg, Karo
I’m glad that you wrote about this cobra show because I’d never watch it as I have a phobia of snakes! There seems to be a lot of energy in this place and it shows in your photos and words. I’m glad I could experience this vicariously!
I believe in the cause you are espousing. I just think great pictures that you display further the inhumane treatment, even if your words say you don’t. Your pictures are so good that they are entertainment in themselves!
Once again a very intressting writing that captured me every details! Although I wish your pictures were bigger. India is a country full of superstition…all kind of beliefs. And I must say that beliving in wrong belief can be very dangerous and harmful. I am glad to know that you atleast have your both feet on earth!
Gutted one snake wasn’t real! I loved the picture of it standing so straight…and then read it wasn’t real. Good thing the cobra was so very real though. I’ve never seen a snake charmer, despite spending a lot of time in India. Now I really want to see one…and yes, I know you’re right that it isn’t a good practice.