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The festival of Nag Panchami is considered to be highly significant and auspicious among Hindus. On this occasion, the holy serpents or snakes are worshipped. Today, when the whole country is celebrating Nag Panchami, we bring you the story of a snake charmers' community. The Gauria community of Kawardha, Chhattisgarh, showcases their respect for snakes through an age-old tradition.
The girls of this community are accompanied with a dowry of 12 snakes at the time of wedding. Though dowry system is quite common in rural India, people usually pay cash, jewellery, car etc. as dowry. The snake charmers of Kawardha, however, follow a ritual that is not only unheard of, but quite unconventional.
Most of the families in this community, earn their livelihood by snake charming. When it comes to the marriage of their daughters, the more poisonous snakes they possess, the more chances they stand to nab an ideal son-in-law.
Every household in the snake charmers' village is home to various dangerous snakes, while the children of the community grow up playing with them. The brides are gifted best of the snakes as a token of blessing from her parental family. The community have been following the ceremony for generations and seem quite proud to have preserved their cultural heritage even in the 21st century.
On the day of Nag Panchami, the snake charmers travel to different parts of the state and demonstrate street performances with the help of their pet snakes.