Ha-du-du (game of tag) This game, which now enjoys the status of the national game, is popular across the country. It is played by both children and adults, in two teams of about 10 players. A court is outlined on the ground measuring 20 feet x 30 feet. The teams station themselves on each side of the court.
When the game starts, one player, taking a deep breath and making a continuous sound, darts forward into the rival players’ side and tries to touch as many players as he can without losing his breath. If he succeeds in getting back to his side, the players he has touched ‘die’. The team that has touched most players wins.
Kadi khela (cowrie game) a game played by girls, singly or in teams. Four cowries of the same size are needed for this game. The player holds all four cowries in her hand and rolls them so that they fall close to each other but do not touch. She then taps one cowries to hit another. She does the same with the next pair. If she succeeds in hitting each cowries, she earns two points, otherwise she loses her round. If the cowries touch one another, the player loses her turn.
Additionally, if the cowries fall flat, the player earns one point. If they fall on their curved backs, each player hurries to pick up the cowries and kiss them to earn one point for each cowries. The player who first earns 20 points wins the game. This is the first phase of the game.In the second phase, the loser tries to guess whether the winner has an even or odd number of cowries in her hand. If the loser guesses right, she gets the cowries and if she guesses wrong, the winner earns points according to the number of cowries in her hand. The winner then hits the loser on her back with her fist according to the number of points she has earned.
Kanamachhi (literally, blind bee; blind man’s buff) is played by both boys and girls. One player has a scarf tied round his or her eyes. The others move like ‘bees’ around the ‘blind’ player. The bees lightly strike the blind player, reciting the rhyme: kanamachhi bhon bhon, yake pabi take chon (Oh buzzing blind bee! Touch us if you can!). The blind player tries to catch or tag one of the bees, responding with the verse: Andha gondha bhai, amar dos nai (I’m blind, don’t blame me if I bump against you). The player tagged by the ‘blind’ player plays the blind bee in the next round.
This game is also popular in Europe as ‘blind-man’s bluff’. In another variant of the game, known as lyangcha (the lame man), one player acts the ‘lame man’ and hops on one leg to catch others.
Lathikhela (club game) teaches self-defence with sticks. Until recently, the zamindars of Bangladesh employed a group of lathials (stalwarts wielding sticks) for security. In the char (shoal) lands, people still take possession of chars through stick fights. During muharram, lathials demonstrate their prowess and mettle in this game.
The sticks used for this game are four and a half to five feet long, and are often smeared with oil. Players manoeuvre their respective sticks around their body with stunning agility. Only sturdy youth take part in the game. In north Bengal, there is a similar game called chamdi, played at the time of Eid.Lukochuri (hide and seek) A team game, played by eight to ten players, with one of them playing the king. One player is chosen as the thief. The king covers the eyes of the thief with his hands while the other players hide themselves. After a while, the king frees the thief, who tries to find the players, while the players try to touch the king without being touched by the thief. A player who is touched by the thief becomes the thief in the next round. It is also known as palapali (hiding) in the regions of Jessore, madaripur etc. In some areas, the game is customarily played by newly-married couples on their wedding night.
Mogalpathan (draughts) also known as solaghunti, is a checkers-like game, with sixteen pieces on each side. The game is played with two additional triangular courts at both ends of the baghbandi court. The players place their pieces in the squares and move their pieces forward one position at a time. If a piece jumps over his opponent’s piece to the next vacant position, the opponent’s piece dies and is removed from the game. The one who kills the opponent’s pieces first wins the game.
Nunta (count till seven) In this team game, one player becomes the owner of a large circle outlined on the ground. At the start of the game, everybody remains inside the circle excepting the owner, who remains outside. The owner goes round the circle reciting nunta, a rhymed formula. When he finishes reciting the rhyme once, the players inside cry out ‘one’. When the owner finishes reciting the rhyme for the seventh time, the players inside rush out of the circle and the owner takes possession of the circle.
Nunta is also known as kutkute khela in the Jessore and khulna regions. In that variation, the owner cries out kutare while others count ekre, duire, tinre etc.
Openti Bioscope is mainly played by girls. Two players face each other and touch their arms to form an arch. The other girls pass under the arch in a circular path reciting a rhyme until they come to the last line: amar nam Jadumani, yete habe anekkhani (My name is Jadumani, I have to go a long way). When the last line is uttered, both the girls bring down their arms on the girl passing under the arch at that moment. All the others then rejoice, holding the girl aloft.
Putul Khela Playing with putul or dolls is universal. Apart from treating dolls as little babies to be fed and put to sleep, girls learn social rites and rituals through playing with dolls. A favourite game in Bengal, as in other parts of India, involves doll weddings. Putuler Biye (The Doll’s Marriage) by kazi nazrul islam is a short play which describes a doll wedding.
Rajar Kotal (king’s constable) a team game played by both boys and girls. The players sit in a circle, holding hands. One player, the king’s constable, stays outside the circle. The game begins with him going round the players, reciting the rhyme: kantar pichhe ke ghure? rajar kotal/ kiser janye? ek chhadi kalar janye/ kal ye niya gechhila? ghoday mute diyachhe/ dhuya dhuya khao ni? chhi! hak! thu!! tabe ek chhadi niya yao (Who’s behind me? The king’s constable.