The Art of Charming Snakes

Posted on 27 May, 2012 | Play Magazine

They come slithering from under the bush, or an overhanging tree but whichever hiding place they emerge from for sure, seeing a live snake often evokes fear and paralysis. Just what can you do when your eyeball to eyeball with one?

But all this instinctive reaction just vanishes when you see a snake charmer in action. A common street entertainment in India, Singapore being a multi-racial melting pot has its own motley bunch of snake charmers from Malaysia and India. At some point of their lives, they were exposed to the risky activity of catching snakes and "domesticating" them. Of course snakes being reptiles, could never be tamed, somehow snake charmers have found a way to walk that tightrope.

Hired usually to spark up parties and events, snake charmers here in Singapore have made the trade more modern. Often the acts do not involve playing the flute "pungi" to hypnotise a snake. (Try hypnotising a human and you can see that with snakes that is near futile!)

The snake charmer takes out the snake from his basket and drapes  it  over his shoulders. He then goes around the audience enticing and encouraging people to touch and drape the snake around their necks.  Modern snake charmers are now more like educators as they make people see these beasts in a better light, less fear and more awe.

Photo opportunities abound!


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