Snake Village

PA Foundation works with the Baida (snake charmer) community, who live in a very backward village called Loharsol. These villagers live in a remote and isolated area, where there they are cut off from education, medical and other services.

We provide the children with transport to and from our school on a rickshaw van. Female staff members make regular health visits to the community.

The women there have traditionally made mats out of leaves from date trees. We supply extra money so they can buy more leaves and thereby increase their production. We suggested, through a trainer, some new designs, which they accepted. We introduced new markets and outlets for their products. We built several new houses and made repairs to others.

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The Historical Background

Our ancestors recount the story of Loharsol. During the period before British rule the whole area consisted of deep and dense forest. At a point in time, the King ruling this area granted a part of his forest to the family of a priest serving the royal household, who worshipped the same God and Goddess. This Brahmin community cleared their new part of the forest to build Loharsol village.

But danger emanated from the surrounding forests in the form poisonous snakes. In order to afford some protection, the community encouraged the snake people, the Baida community, to settle there also and presented them with land to live on.

The snake people had extensive knowledge of poisons and their treatments. They had a particular expertise in the manufacture and application of Ayurvedic medicines. They depended completely on these skills for their livelihood. Villagers provide them with rice, vegetables, clothes and the other necessities of life. In exchange the snake people had only to protect the village from poisonous creatures.

But with the passage of time, science, technology and medicine developed rapidly. And so, as modern developments made inroads into their way of life, the people of this community gradually lost their knowledge and skills, and hence their value and status in the eyes of other villagers.

They now live as an isolated community on the outskirts of Loharsol with few alternative ways to make a living. They have no great aptitude for farming: it is not in their blood. Within the caste systems they are classified as untouchables and so they are estranged from the rest of the society. They now try to sustain a meager livelihood by selling medicines, performing as snake charmers and begging.

 

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