- Jun 12, 2007
It’s the one classroom where everyone’s paying attention at the back.
Being a few feet away from a poisonous snake has a wonderful way of concentrating the mind.
Six-year-old Rekha Bae – like all children in the 600-strong nomadic Vadi tribe in western India – will have first been introduced to cobras at the age of two.
All Vadi children complete a ten-year initiation ritual that culminates in the boys becoming fully-fledged performing snake charmers.
Divided between the sexes, the act of snake charming with traditional flute is the role of the men, while the Vadi women care for the snakes and handle them when their husbands or brothers are not around.
'The training begins at two, the children then are then taught the ancient ways of snake charming until they are ready to take up their roles in our community,' said chief snake charmer Babanath Mithunath Madari, 60.
'At twelve the children will know everything that they can know about snakes.'