|Raji with a cobra, KeralaNewIndianExpress|
Never have I either heard or read about female snake catcher in India. In a man's world women, it seems, have already made a successful entry. Here is a scoop for you which I recently read with interest.
In this age of woman empowerment, we have seen women successfully striding the areas that were once dominated by men. There is almost no field in India that does not have women folks. They are flying passenger planes, fighter air crafts, run express trains. Indian women have scaled Mt. Everest and many of them hold records.
What about the scary area of snake charming? This neither requires a college degree nor does it require a technical degree. Unlike other folds ridden with danger, in this pretty old field which is a man's world, the death is just a few inches away!! A wrong sleight of hand is enough to send the snake charmer to the nearest hospital. For a Keralite woman, snake charming is a passion and not a profession.
For a 34-year old Kerala woman by the name of J R Raji who is a home maker catching the reptiles is like playing Checker-board. Native of Pacha near Nanniyode village located at the foothills of Western Ghats, catching snakes has been a passion since her late childhood and she does it with keen desire as a social service. Her parents were rubber-tappers and she used to see lots of snakes on the rubber estate. She took basic training in trapping snakes and gets satisfaction when she helps the distressed people from danger. According to media reports over a period of one year she saved 483 snakes from Kollam and Thiruvaanthapuram districts, thus establishing herself as a skilled woman snake-charmer in a man's realm.
Because of her continuous interaction with the reptiles, she has become a saviour of reptiles in Kerala. Since their habitats are fast disappearing, snakes frequently get into human settlements to roost. Her job is to rescue the snake and and save the jittery people from panic and threats. When caught, she hands over the snakes to the government and she does not catch snakes for money. In case people insist, the money will go to charity.
Mrs..Raji can handle any poisonous snake including vipers and deadly pythons. with skill. She never shows any sign of fear when handling cobras and other snakes. When facing the critters in close quarters, her concentration, quick reflexes and snake's behavior come handy for her. Though she had a close shave on a few occasions, she was not disturbed. On the contrary, she has become more resolute in pursuit of dangerous reptiles to catch them and save them than give uo on snake-catching. She is the mother of two children and is being encouraged by her husband.