Folk Games are traditionally played for amusement and entertainment. Folk games are divided into three groups based on the environment in which the games are played: land, water and sky.
Games on land predominate and include games that are played by both boys and girls and those that are played by only one gender.
Ayabga-ayanga (the tiger and the goats) is a group game played by both boys and girls. A large circle is drawn on the ground. One player plays the role of the tiger and remains outside the circle, while the other players play goats and stay inside it. The player outside recites set rhymes and goes round the circle, trying to catch the players inside off guard. One such rhyme used in the game in the Jessore region is as follows: ‘Tiger: Weep, weep! Goats (in chorus): What are you crying for? Tiger: Lost a cow. Goats: What sort of cow? Tiger: A red one. Goats: Does it have horns? Tiger: Yes. Goats; Sing a song. The tiger then starts dancing and singing: Who took my cow? Who took my cow? Come here, you who took my cow. Suddenly he stops short and jumps forward to drag one of the players outside the circle. The other players hold him back so that the tiger cannot take the goat away. The goats taken out of the circle by the tiger belong to the tiger’s side. The last player in the circle becomes the tiger in the next round.
Baghbandi (capturing the tiger) a checkers-like game, played on a board outlined on the ground. The board has 16 squares. Twenty pieces, known as bakri (goats), are placed in groups of five at four places on the board. Two bigger pieces, known as bagh (tiger), are placed elsewhere. Two players, one taking the side of the tiger and the other taking that of the goats, start moving their pieces. The goats try to block the passage of the tiger, by not giving it two vacant positions in a row so that it cannot advance or jump over. If the tiger jumps over a goat to the next vacant position, the goat dies and is removed from the board. If the tiger kills all the goats, the player with the tiger becomes the winner. If the goats can block the passage of the tiger, the player with goats becomes the winner.
Bauchhi (the old lady) This game requires two courts outlined on the ground, one rectangular and the other circular, twenty-five to thirty feet apart from each other. Two teams of eight to ten players are needed for this game. One player of the team winning the toss plays the budi (old lady) and remains inside the circle. The remaining members of the team stay inside the rectangular court.
The object of the game is for the player of the opposing team to take the ‘old lady’ to the rectangle, without being touched. If he is able to take the ‘old lady’ to the rectangle, the team earns a point and the players he touches become out. Variations of the game are known as budikapati, bau-basanti budir chu etc.
Chikka (tug and trip) This game of physical endurance is played by two teams consisting of five to seven players. The two teams line up facing each other across a line drawn on the ground. One player challenges one of the opposing players by stretching his hands towards him, in what is known as ‘giving hetel (the handle)’. The other player catches hold of his hands and they start pushing or pulling in a bid to trip each other. The one who budges from his position is considered out. If a team can trip all its opponents, it earns points and starts the next round. Players also try to trip their opponents with their legs. If a team can trip all the players of the opposing team, it earns points and retains the round. The process is repeated by turns.
Chhadar Khela (rhyming game) a counting rhyme game, it is played by boys and girls. The players sit on the ground, holding their hands open flat. The leader also holds out one of his/her hands and, touching each hand on the ground, utters the rhyme: ikdi mikdi cham chikdi/ chamer beta laksindar/ seje ela damodar. Everybody waits for the last word to be uttered. The player who is touched with the last word closes his/her hand. The game continues till the last hand is closed.
Chhi-chhattar (the kite and the cocks) Ten to fifteen boys form a circle, holding each other’s hands. One player stands in the middle of the circle. In the rangpur areas, the child in the middle is called a ‘kite’, and the others ‘cocks’. The kite tries to break free from the ring formed by the cocks. He frets and struts and recites the rhyme: chhi chhai ghoda dabai/ ghoda na ghudi, chabuk chhudi/ chabuk diya marlam badi/ dhula uthe kari kari (What a horse I ride! Is it a horse or a mare? When I smack it with a whip, it only raises row of dust). The player then runs out, breaking the circle at a point where someone is off-guard. The cocks then run after him, and the one who catches him plays the kite in the next round. The cocks also recite a rhyme: Chhi chhattar kachur bai/ chyabgda pyangdar nana hai/ taker upar ayna/ punti machh khay na/ taker upar gosta/ chhonya dile dosta (What is this? I’m respected as grandpa by children. My bald head shines like a mirror. I don’t eat tiny fish. If someone can touch my head, I become his friend). A variation of this game is played in the Himalayan region where it is known as chilla-daoma.
Chungakhela (the crackers game) an adult game, played mainly in chittagong, on the eve of shab-e-barat. The opposing teams try to hit their opponents with crackers. Sometimes the crackers cause burn injuries. The game is spectacular, with sparks and flashes of crackers, coupled with deafening sounds, amid cheers from the spectators. Starting from sunset, the game continues till midnight. This expensive and dangerous game is now almost extinct.
Danguli (tipcat) a favourite boys’ game played by two teams of five to six players. A two-foot long stick, known as danda, and a five- to six- inch stick, known as guli or phutti, are used to play the game. There is a similar game in Europe called tipcat, where the longer stick is used to tip the ‘cat’, the smaller one.
The object of the game is for one side to strike the guli with the danda. The other side has to catch the guli before it falls. If the guli is caught, the player who has struck it is out. If the guli isn’t caught, he continues till he is out. If he is out, the next player in the team comes in. One team plays after the other. The game is also known as dangbadi, gutbadi, tyamdang, bhyatadanda etc.
Dariyabanda (stealing the salt) This is a popular competitive game, played by two teams composed of five to seven players each on a square outlined on the ground. A number of small squares are drawn inside the big one, depending on the number of players. One of the squares is called gadighar (team’s chamber) and the other is called labanghar (salt chamber). At the start of the game, the members of one team stay inside the gadighar while their opponents stand in a way that no one can pass from one square into another. A member of the team darts forth or dodges past the players on guard and tries to cross all the cells and return to the gadighar. If one of the members succeeds in moving across all the squares without being touched by the opposing team, his team earns points and wins the round. But if he is touched by the players of the rival team, his team loses the round. The other team then starts playing. At the end of the game, the points earned by the opposing teams are added up to decide the winners.