Children in India begin to learn how to charm snakes at the age of two. What is interesting is that children play with these dangerous and deadly predators as they were their toys.
Snake charming is the practice of hypnotizing a snake by playing an instrument. A typical performance may also include handling the snakes or performing other seemingly dangerous acts, as well as other street performance staples, like juggling and sleight of hand. Check out 14 more images after the jump.
The practice is most common in India, though other Asian nations such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Malaysia are also home to performers, as are the North African countries of Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. Snake charming as it exists today probably originated in India.
Hinduism has long held serpents to be sacred; the animals are related to the Nagas, and many gods are pictured under the protection of the cobra. Indians thus considered snake charmers to be holy men who were influenced by the gods.