Sapera (Muslim)

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A snake-charmer of the Sapera caste - Tashrih al-aqvam (1825)

The Sapera are a Muslim community found in the state of Bihar in India. They are also known as Mastan and Ustad.[1]


A snake charmer in Delhi

The Muslim Sapera are Muslim converts from the Hindu Sapera caste. Little is known about the exact circumstances of their conversion to Islam. Sapera in Hindi means snake charmer. Their traditional occupation is snake charming, and they are one of a number of nomadic groups found in North India who might be the ancestors of the Romani community of Europe. The Sapera speak a dialect which is a mixture of Urdu, Hindi and Maithili.[1]

Present circumstances[edit]

The Muslim Sapera are found in the districts of Saharsa, Champaran, Sitamarhi and Purnea. They are divided into two groups, the Iraqi and Irani. Both these groups are strictly endogamous, and there is no intermarriage between them. Traditionally a community of snake charmers, most Sapera are now wage labourers, and are one of the most disadvantaged groups among the Bihari Muslims. Although they are Muslims, most Sapera worship a tribal deity known as Bisahari.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c People of India Bihar Volume XVI "Part Two" edited by S Gopal & Hetukar Jha pages 849 to 851 Seagull Books