EDUCATIONEVENTSMUSICPRINTINGPUBLISHINGPUBLICATIONSRADIOTELEVISIONWELFARECAREER
Untitled Document
CURRENT ISSUE  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Untitled Document
     CURRENT ISSUE JANUARY 01, 2007
 
   OFFTRACK: DELHI
 

A Different Charm

A community of snake-charmers tries to make an alternative livelihood out of their beens, sans the snakes

 
  PICTURE SPEAK

PIED PIPERS: Snake-charmers rehearsing for the IHC show at Moladband village

On a chilly evening last week at Delhi's India Habitat Centre, it was charm of a different sort. About 70 snake-charmers of the Jogi-Nath community converged from Delhi, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to "charm" the decision-makers present in the audience into lending an ear to their livelihood woes. They played the Scottish anthem with 40-odd beens and a dozen tumbas and khanjaris accompanied by three huge dhols. Other than the Scottish anthem, rest were tunes from their traditional repertoire. The orchestra left the 500-odd audience, including Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit and a sizeable number of foreigners, wide-eyed. While the audience savoured every moment, the celebration time for performers arrived at the end of the show when Dikshit announced, "We would repeat this unique show in the central park of Connaught Place very soon and we'll start Delhi state's Bhakti Utsav with it, in April."

That was not enough. Some more good news followed then. Organiser of the programme and a patron of the saperas, Bahar Dutt of Jeevika: Friends of Snakes, was approached by HMV-Saregama with a recording offer while Delhi-based director of the show Roysten Abel was inquired to take the show to Italy.

Before the show, the Sapera basti in Moladband village on the outskirts of Delhi (towards Faridabad) was bustling with activities for days together. The snake-charmers were rehearsing eight hours a day under Abel, well-known worldwide for his play A Beggar's Opera which has in its cast magicians, bahurupias, folk artistes, snake-charmers of Delhi's Shadipur jhuggi settlement.

Snakes had been the source of livelihood for the Jogi-Nath saperas, descendants of Guru Gorakhnath, considered to be an avtaar of Lord Shiva. After the enactment of The Indian Wildlife (Protection) Law in 1972 and the increasing animal rights activism of late, this community's source of earning started drying up.

In these desperate times, Dutt gave them support and showed them a ray of hope. She floated the idea of harnessing the snake charmers' knowledge of wildlife and their musical talent in a big way so as to provide them livelihood while protecting their caste identity as well. Now she is the happiest person. "We have got half a dozen offers to present this show. Each presentation will cost about Rs 1 lakh," says Dutt. Saperas entertained people for centuries. Now it's time for society to pay its dues-by nurturing the community's rare musical talent.

 

Index

Untitled Document
CURRENT ISSUE
JANUARY 1, 2007
 IN THIS ISSUE
COVER STORY

BACHCHAN VS KHAN

OTHER STORIES
 

Ministers At War

Ground Zero

In Democracy We Trust

One Down, Six To Go

The Desert Sun

No Room For Hospitality

Disease of Society

Bytes, Camera, Action

A Position On Sex

Terror and Memory

A Legacy Divided

Romancing The Ruins

The Kerala Express

Do you think the nuclear deal with the United States is good for India?
 
South Asia's most influential and most read newsweekly presents the fifth Conclave India Tomorrow 2006: Bridging the Divide




CONTACTUS SYNDICATIONSSUBSCRIPTIONFAQsPRIVACYPOLICY