BHOPAL: Highlighting the condition of snake charmers of Kalbeliya community due to craze for the reptile’s skin, a play ‘Doodhan’ was staged on Monday – the fifth day of twelve-day long ‘Madhya Pradesh National Drama Festival-2016’ at Antarang Hall of Bharat Bhavan.
Set in Rajasthan, the play revolves around a girl ‘Doodhan’ who revolts against the sale of serpents. She struggles to protect the serpents and she finds that her father, a Sarpanch of a Kalbeliya community and is involved in killing and selling the skins of serpents. She fights and sacrifices her life for the protection of serpents and ecological balance.
It is noteworthy here that occupation of Kalbeliyas is snake charming and they go from village to village displaying their catches. They are also expert snake catchers and are often called in by other villagers to catch snakes and remove the poison from persons bitten by snakes. The charmers provide a valuable source of snake venom. On Naag Panchami, they release snakes in field on request of farmers to save their crops from rats and in exchange the farmer gives them grain. But, in 1972, the Wildlife Protection Act was passed and as a result the snake- charmers were forced to move their performances to less-travelled areas such as small villages or else hefty bribes when caught by police.
The play also portrays the hard life of the community due to the law and because of the emergency of other means of entertainment and also because they get no support from the government. The rise in the demand for skin of snakes has led to some Kalbeliyas killing snakes and selling their skins on high price.
Scripted by Dr. Tara Prakash Joshi, directed by Sabir Khan, the play was presented by 28-years Sarthak Theatre Group Rajasthan.