July 1, 2013

0712 INDIA - A snake charmer and his apprentices

Snake charming is common in some Asian and North African nations, but, without doubt, this practice is most widespread in India. Snake charmers pretend that they hypnotise the snakes by playing an instrument called pungi (although the snakes haven't the outer ear, that would enable them to hear the music). A typical performance may also include handling the snakes or performing other seemingly dangerous acts, as well as other street performance staples, like juggling and sleight of hand. Ancient Egypt was home to one form of snake charming, though the practice as it exists today likely arose in India. Many snake charmers live a wandering existence, visiting towns and villages on market days and during festivals.

Snake charming is typically an inherited profession, because, as members of the Sapera or Sapuakela castes, have little other choice. They are often regarded as traditional healers and magicians, especially in rural areas, and concoct and sell all manner of potions that purportedly do anything from curing the common cold to raising the dead. They wear long hair, turban, earrings, and necklaces of shells or beads, and use for hypnotize the snakes a pungi, a wind instrument consists of a mouth-blown air reservoir made from a gourd, with two reedpipes.

They typically walk the streets holding their serpents in baskets hanging from a bamboo pole slung over the shoulder. Once the performer finds a satisfactory location to set up, he sets his baskets around him (often with the help of a team of assistants who may be his apprentices) and sits cross-legged on the ground in front of a closed basket. He removes the lid, then begins playing pungi. The snake emerges from the container, and, if is a cobra, it may even extend its hood. Between performances, the charmers cover the basket with cloths.

About the stamps
The first stamp is part of the series dedicated to Civil Aviation Centenary and issued on March 14, 2012. Civil Aviation started in India when the French Pilot Monseigneur Piguet undertook the first commercial flight covering a distance of about 10 kms from Allahabad to Naini on February 18, 1911 for carrying mail, but the first domestic air route between Karachi and Delhi was opened in December 1912 by Indian state Air Services in collaboration with UK based Imperial Airways. The series contain four stamp, three with the face value of 5.00 INR and one with the face value of 20.00 INR (it's on this postcard).

The second stamp was issued on July 7, 2010, to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Indian Naval Air Squadron - 300 (INAS 300), the premier fighter squadron of the Indian Navy, popularly known as "The White Tigers".

Snake charming - Wikipedia

sender: Piyali Bose (direct swap)
sent from Janakpuri (Delhi / India), on 18.02.2013

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