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A Hundred Charmers in Concert

Organisations / Institutions / Movements, Safeguarding

A Hundred Charmers in Concert

Dutt, Bahar

BAHAR DUTT

The concert was attended by over 600 people including Ms Sheila Dikshit Chief
Minister of Delhi, who was the Chief Guest, and was a huge success giving some
reprieve to a community that is facing a ban on their occupation.
Friends of Snakes is a project of the Jeevika Foundation that has been working
closely with the snake charmers for the last 6 years. They aim to assist them in
finding livelihoods which are close to their culture but not in violation of
wildlife laws.

Over 70 “Joginaths”, or snake charmers clad in colourful turbans and bright
orange attires, performed with their Beens, Thumbas and Khanjaris (all musical
instruments). “We have come here from four States. The ban on keeping snakes has
stopped us from staging shows. Because of the ban, we are jobless, and it is
difficult to earn our living. We want that our traditional snake shows should
not vanish. We request the Government to give us licenses to perform”- was the
lament of the snake charmers.

The hallmark of the concert was the playing of ‘Amazing Grace’, the Scottish
tune. The concert was directed by Roysten Abel. “We get to know about the
problem and I know that the tradition is slowly vanishing day by day. And it is
the duty of the society and the Government also to look out for the snake
charmers,” said Dikshit. “It is our responsibility – both the Government’s and
the society’s – to sustain their music. We will not let their art become
history,” she added. Dikshit also announced that the newly constructed Central
Park in Connaught Place would be inaugurated by the snake charmers.
In fact following the concert, the snake charmers have been flooded with offers
to play at musical concerts, events and festivals which will give them a
reasonable livelihood. They have also been approached by a leading music company
for recording an album with them. The concert thus has been a successful first
step towards reviving the much forgotten musical talents of the snake charmer
community.

Also see Meha Desai’s Photo Essay on A Hundred Charmers in Concert

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