What for? For a cluster of bananas. Did you not take one yesterday? Horses pissed on them. Eat them after washing. Wack! Wack! Then take a cluster from here). The constable then pretends to cut down a cluster of bananas and takes away one of the players. The constable begins circling them again, chanting the same rhyme. The game continues till the constable takes away all the players.
Rumalchuri (stealing the handkerchief) mainly played by young children. One child plays the part of the thief. The others sit in a circle. The child playing the part of the thief goes round the players and quietly leaves a handkerchief at the back of someone.If the player behind whom the thief has left the handkerchief senses what is happening, he/she springs up and exchanges places with the thief.
Otherwise the thief continues to go round till he/she reaches the player with the handkerchief. The thief then thumps the player on his/her back. The player then has to play the part of the thief. The game is known as mudakhela in Kishohreganj.
Satchada (seven tiles) a team game with an equal number of players on both sides, played with seven potsherds or flat stones. The stones are placed one on another. A player of one team stands ten to twelve feet away and tries to dismantle the tower of stones by throwing a rubber or tennis ball towards it. The players of the other team try to set it up again while the player who had thrown the ball now tries to hit them with the ball. If she succeeds in hitting a player, the player is out.
Satkhola (dice in seven holes) is a game of two players. Two rows of seven small holes are made in the ground and seven tamarind stones are placed in each hole. One of the players starts the game by moving his stones. He picks up the stones from one of his holes and then drops them one by one into the successive holes. When he finishes distributing the stones, he takes up all the stones from the next hole and does the same again.
If the last stone from the hole falls into one of the player’s empty holes, he takes possession of all the stones of the following holes. But if two holes are empty after the hole where the last stone falls, then he loses his round. The opponent plays in the same way.
Soljhapta (kissing the stick) a game from Murshidabad, is played by cowherds in mango or litchi orchards. A toss decides the thief, who places a stick on the ground and stands touching one side of it. Other players station themselves in nearby trees. The thief then tries to touch one of them and rushes back to the stick to kiss it. If he succeeds, the player he has touched becomes the thief in the next round. Bull fight
The game is also known as gachhchhuya gachhchhuya in Mymensingh and dagare daga in Vikrampur. In the gachchuya gachchuya variation, a tree takes the place of the stick in the game. One of the rhymes recited in this game is about sylvan life: gachhgchuya re gachhchhuya/ gachh kyare? bagher dare. bagh kai? matir tale/ mati kai? ei to/ tora kay bhai? sat bhai/ ek bhai dibe? chhuinte parle nibe (Tree-climber, tree-climber, why are you up in the trees? For fear of the tiger. Where’s the tiger? On the ground. Where’s the ground? Here it is. How many brothers are you? Seven brothers. Will you give me one? Take me away, if you can).
Games in water Apart from swimming and boat-racing, water games include catching and tagging games.
Boat-race an ancient and traditional folk game, often played competitively on the occasion of fairs and pujas. As the young men ply their oars, musicians beat drums and play other percussion instruments to encourage the punters. The boats used in race do not have masts or sails. The agility and strength of the punters and the helmsman are the deciding factors in the game.
Holdug (tag me in water) played by boys while bathing in rivers or ponds. The boy who wins the toss takes some water in his hand and asks questions which others answer: eta ki? dudh/ eta ki? tyal/ eta ki? marich/ bap bale dharis (What’s this? Milk. What’s this?/ Chilli. Catch it if you can). As soon as he finishes the formulaic rhyme, he dives and others try to find him. The one who touches him first becomes entitled to question the others in the next round. The game is played by turns. This game is known as malai in Mymensingh and hattihatti in noakhali.
Jhappuri khela a group game played by boys. The players stand in waist-deep water in a pond, forming a circle. One of them holds a fruit that floats on water. He throws the fruit up and everybody rushes to catch it. The game is also known as tai tai khela in some regions.
Lai khela (find me out) a group game played by boys. The word lai is derived from nabhi, the Bangla word for ‘navel’. A boy, standing in chest-deep water, asks, amar hate ki? jalai ek dube talai/ tore yadi pai/ ek gerase khai (What’s in my hand? Nothing but water. Under the water in a dive. If I can catch you, I’ll eat you in a swallow). He dives saying this and the other players try to find him. If he can avoid being touched, he earns a point. If he loses, the one who catches him begins the next round. panijhuppa (skimming the pebbles) In this game, boys or girls try to skim pebbles or potsherds over the surface of the water. The player who skims the pebble farthest is the winner. The game is also known as kholamkuchi khela (game of potsherd) in some regions.
Flying Games Popular games include flying kites and pigeons. Flying Kites is popular in Bengal as in other parts of South Asia. As soon as the weather turns dry and windy, boys start flying kites. Both children and adults participate in kite-flying competitions, during which the participants try to cut the strings of other kites. Accordingly, the kite strings are coated with glue and powdered glass so that they can easily cut the strings of their rivals.
Flying pigeons Though there are varieties of pigeons, only girobaj pigeons are used for flying. There is also a game of hunting pigeons with pigeons. [Wakil Ahmed]
Bibliography A Saha, Banglar Laukik Kridar Samajik Utsa (Social Origins of the Folk Games of Bengal), Pustak Bipani, Kolkata, 1991.