In the Indian settlement of Jogi Dera, snake charmers known as Saperas lure cobras from baskets by playing and waving gourd flutes, a tradition handed down over centuries.
Jogi Dera is in the village of Baghpur, in the central state of Uttar Pradesh, where the Saperas’ tribal ancestors made their living catching venomous snakes and making them dance to music.
“More than seven generations of our families have been doing this and so are we,” Buti Nath, 65, told Reuters Television. “We are called upon whenever there are dangerous animals coming into your houses or in your fields – we go and catch them with courage.”
Snakes are revered by Hindus in India and snake charmers are considered the followers of Lord Shiva, the blue-skinned god who is usually portrayed wearing a king cobra around his neck.
While crowds are often mesmerized by the charmers’ close proximity to the deadly cobras they control, many of the snakes used in performances have been defanged.
The video below is a 360º perspective filmed by Adnan Abidi to go with the slideshow of photos.