By the light of the gypsy fire

Telugu-speaking people of Sri Lanka's vibrant gypsy community met in Thambuttegama in the Anuradhapura district recently to celebrate their fast-disappearing culture and traditions.

The gypsies who are originally from India's Andhra Pradesh state have mainly settled down in Sri Lanka's central, western and eastern provinces. Their tribe consists mainly of fortune tellers, snake charmers and monkey trainers.

"We love nature and want to protect it and therefore we should not be treated as some persons who want to destroy it," complained Masanna, chieftain of the Andarabedda clan referring to the many confrontations they have had with officials regarding wildlife protection laws.

He wants the government to stop interfering with their traditional way of life. He was one among other clan leaders who were present.

These pictures show gypsy clans from Kudagama, Kalawewa, Aligambe, Kiriwallapuram and Andarabedda celebrating their way of life by the glow of a fire along the banks of Rajangana tank in Anuradhapura .

This is the way to tame a cobra: Masanna and others show their skills
Clan leaders perform rituals as families watch
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