Snake charmers of Patia

The snake- charmers of Odisha are also called as ‘Sapuakelas’. The wisdom and experience of the ancestors, handed down from father to son, is the stock-in-trade of these Sapuakelas. Though they are Nomadic, and travel from place to place in groups in search of snakes and to earn their livelihood from snake-playing, they live in a village called Padmakesharipur, near Patia, 12 kilometers from the city centre. Many people visit this hamlet to have a glance at the snake-charmers peculiar style of living as well as their stock of living snakes and other animals.

In this small village, while men folk are mostly away, women and children look after their homes. They keep mouse, birds as pets and are adept in tattoo art. The Sapuakelas mainly depend upon their traditional occupation of snake-charming, snake- catching and snake-selling. This is supported with several other activities such as mouse play, magic performance, bird catching, jugglery and sale of herbal medicines and Sapamani (a type of gemstone collected from the head of old cobra).