Sports and Games of Pashtoons

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Sports and Games of Pashtoons,
Published in Khyber.ORG on Monday, August 31 2009 (http://www.khyber.org)


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Sports and Games of Pashtoons

Pashto Academy, Peshawar

Publishing Date: Monday, August 31 2009

The climate and geographical conditions, which have played a role in shaping the Pashtoon Culture lies upon 60 to 73 longitudes and 26 to 36 latitude of the earth. This region is divided into different geographical configuration and area. Pashtoons live on both sides of the Durand Line. Different tribes live in the North West of Pakistan and in the Province of Pakistan called NWFP.

NWFP is a Pashtoon-populated area, where different folk games are played. These games vary in different areas, according to the climatic conditions. As the area has a culture of male oriented, that's why most of the out door games are played by boys while indoor games are those of the girls. Some of the games are common everywhere and some are special for some particular places. A part from folk games, International games like Foot Ball, Cricket, Hockey, Volley Ball, Basket Ball, Squash are also played, in which the players of international repute have been produced by the Pashtoon.

Intrepid and proud of their strength of arms, Pukhtoons are fond of field sports. In the early stage of his life, a child measures his strength with his compatriots in wrestling bouts called Parzawal. This is followed by other sports of a masculine nature. Later he goes on hunting excursions and finally slings a rifle for his own as well as his tribe's protection.

A detailed study is needed to give all the details of the various sports and games. A brief reference may, however, be made here to some of the important sports common all over the tribal area. These include Kabaddi, Gulli Danda, Larroo or Pat Patoney, Kowat Kannarry, Kissa Kali Kali, Angay, Gangar, Cheendro or Peeto, Eishtapa, Teeki, Karkhai, Maya or Joora and Katchna Gotey.

Among the hundreds of different folk games some are as follow.

Skhay سخئي

This is a game played by young boys. It is common in all the villages of NWFP. It is played between two teams. Each team consists on 6 to 8 players. However there is no restriction on the number of players but should not be less than 4 players on each side. Before starting the game a particular spot is targeted or specified, which is to be successfully touched by a particular member player of the defending team. In this game all the players have to use only one foot for running and playing. The foot is tightly gripped in the claw of opposite hand. During the game one particular player is given the task of touching the spot. This player is guarded by his team mate so that he could safely reach the spot. If before touching the specific spot, the player is forced to open his gripped hand from his foot, the turn comes to an end. That is why both the teams try to unlock or open the hands and feet of each other. On safely reaching the spot than the other team has to perform the same. Normally the player is selected for the purpose is a fast running boy on one foot. If a team is unable to reach the spot for consecutive 5 times, they lose the game and the other wins it.

Top Dandy توپ ډنډي

It is a game played between two teams. Each team consists of 8 to 10 players. There are a lot of similarities with Baseball in it. But it has different rules and regulations. Two circles are drawn at a distance of one furlong. A stick of wood and a Tennis Ball are used in it. The defending team gets into the circle while the offending team stands out side for catching the Ball or picking it up. The players in the circle have only one chance to hit the ball with the stick and then run fast to reach the other circle. Then another of his team-mate hits the ball and runs to other circle, while he is already running the first member tries to return fast to the circle back again. The players of the opponent team standing outside try to catch the ball. If the ball is caught, the player is out of the game. If not then they try to hit the player with the ball while he is running to the other end. If he is hit while he is outside the circle then he will also be out of the game. Like this when one by one all the players are out of the game, the inning of the other team starts in the same manner. This game is considered to be very useful for exercise and the art of defending oneself.

Pash or Gully Danda ګلي ډنډه

It is a game played with two wooden sticks. One is used for hitting the other smaller stick. The smaller stick is around 9 inches in size. Both the edges of the short stick are sharpened so that it is easy to hit. This game is played between the two teams. There is no restriction on the number of players. However each team should not exceed then 6 players. Before starting the game either the inning is given to a team by toss or both the captains are asked to hit the short stick for as many times as possible in the air before it falls on the ground. He who hits the short stick in the air much times then the other wins the toss and the game is started. All the members of the playing team get into the circle. First of all a particular number of air-strikes is specified then each player tries to reach that target. The player is required to keep the short stick out of the circle. If by chance the stick comes into the circle, the player is given out. If he succeeds in hitting the short stick out side the circle for the required number, he has succeeded in keeping himself alive for the other turn otherwise he is out as well. The players do this turn by turn in the circle. After keeping oneself alive then he has the chance to play again and try for his other colleagues to make them alive again. If he fails; then they have to go out and the turn of the opponent team starts. The real charm of the game is that if all the members of the team succeed in making themselves alive, then they have got the liberty to hit hard the short stick and throw it far away so that the others who are bound to re-throw it back to the circle will go far away and are made to be tired. By doing this if they fail to get their turn they lose the game.

Yangolay or Angai ينګلي

This is a game played between two teams each of 6 to 8 members. The game is only played in the evening or at night because this time is more suitable for it. The walls of a Pashtoon's house are high and wide enough. First of all the captain of one team arranges his players in a row so as to order them appropriately. The captain of the opponent team does the same preparations.

One team hides behind one comer of the wall and the other on the other side. Then both the captains change the places of their team and come to the opposite team's corner. Then the captain of a team calls the name of the player standing at the head of the row. If he is not the pair of another order, then the captain calls again the name of the first standing player. This continuestill the player comes ahead as the same for his pair's player. When it happens, the captain invites his team to come in, and the players of his team are taken on the back of the player of the losing team to the other corner.

Cheendro چيندرو

This is a game played by girls alone as it is entirely considered to be the feminine game. Cheendro is actually the name of a diagram, which is like a parallelogram or rectangle in shape and it is drawn on the ground or floor by a chalk or stone. Some seven or eight columns are made in it. Then a round striker made of baked clay or some other material is taken. The striker is thrown turn by turn into the columns, by pushing it with foot to the other column. If the striker is placed on the time, it is a foul and the turn of the player comes to an end. Then the member starts playing it with the foot. This game is played between two teams of girls. Each team consists of 3 to 4 member.

Takey or Meergati ميرګاټي

This too is a game of little girls. In this game round pebbles of stone which are five in number are taken and are played by four individual players turn by turn. One of the pebbles is tossed in the air and before coming to the ground the other pebbles are hastily collected in a hand and then the tossed pebble is caught with the same hand. If the catch is dropped, the turn ends. This game is played entirely by one hand. Now-a-day a tennis ball is also used in this game.

Sapatat سپيتت

This is another game played by girls. It is played with four little sticks of a cane. Two teams of girls, each consisting of two members, play the game. The total number of players is four.

A circle is drawn and four pebbles are taken by each of the four players. The circle is cross lined. The sticks are tossed in the air turn by turn, and when it comes on head it has a certain value of length in inches while the tale has its own value. The team, who completes the whole length of circle, first is considered to be the winner. The winner kicks the straw sticks and run away on one foot and the losers after collecting these scattered straw sticks run after the winners and on catching them, they bring them back to the circle on their back.

Mazaray مزاري

This is chase like indoor game played by the elder people. It is not like chess but a diagram is drawn on the ground or cemented floor. Twenty pebbles and four stones are used in it. The game is played between two players.

Only each side select the side and place the pebbles on specific columns and then are moved to reach the opposite side so that to block the leaving stones which are called 'GUD' means male sheep, able to cut or eat the Gudey or the sheep (pebbles).

The sheep are masterly moved forward. If the game of one side is succeeded in taking more the sheep, the opposite side is weakened and is unable to defend his Guds. Ultimately his both Guds are completely blocked and made unable to move anymore and thus the game concludes.

The game is similar to checkers in rule but the board layout is different.

Aku Baku اکو بکو

This is a game played by little girls. One girl is selected to count Akkoo Bakkoo. The words are like this:

Ako Bako Sar Sandako
Ghwa may lara pa Trapako
Abasin Beray Beray
Pakay Naaasta Durkhanay
Durkhanay Khoray Rawoooza
Lasturho kay day Sa di?
Zerhay Zerhay Wrijay di
Da kalay da cha day?
Da da momin Khan day
Pakay Nast Ali Shrhang Dabalay

While saying this with syllable, the selected girl for the job puts her finger on each girl, when the last syllable, comes to a girl, she is considered a thief. All the other girls run away and the thief girl runs after them to catch them.

On catching a girl, she too is then accompanied with her. The two girls together try to catch the rest, this way the number of the chasing girls increases when the last girl is caught. Then the game comes to an end and started again.

Kutai or Achoonka اچونکه

This game is played by the boys. First of all a hole is dug in the ground. Six players together play the game. Each player has a walnut with him. These are the playing nuts. The game is played with one hand and a middle finger of the other hand.

Turn by turn each player retries to hit the walnut of the other player with the force of the middle finger. If he happens to hit the walnut of the other player, then he tries to fill the hole with his walnut with fingers. If he wins the already specified amount of walnuts. The loser gets out of the game and the game is continued till the last winner has won all the walnuts.

Nowadays this game is played by marble balls or glass balls.

Tit Pa Titi ټيټ په ټيټي

A few boys get together and have a toss amongst them such that each of the boys carries out a toss between themselves. At last a player becomes the loser. The boy who wins the toss from, the loser boy gets mounted on the back of the boy.

This mounted boy calls, "Khan Khan Pa Teetee" and the loser boy replies, "Teet pa Teetee". With this, the mounted boy comes down and runs after other boys and tries to catch any one of them while the boys try to come and mount on the boys back again. If the first boy succeeds in catching anyone of the boys, then the caught up boy is supposed to stand in place of the loser boy and the player then gets on his back, and the first loser boy tries to catch another one until a player is mounted on the back of this boy when another is caught and brought into the same situation.

Buzkashi بزکشي

Buzkashi is considered the national game of Pashtoons. Already, Afghanistan counts it as the national game. But although It used to be a game played by all Pashtoons, nowadays it is played mostly by those living in Afghanistan.

This game requires brilliant horsemanship and is played on the back of the horse. Only six horsemen in each team take part in this game. However because there are no head and fast rules, any number of horsemen can join in. There are cases in which hundreds of horsemen have joined in when a game gets warm. A long ground for the running horse is needed.

In the center of the ground a circle is drawn, where a lamb or male sheep is placed. On each side of the ground six circles are drawn on which each of the horsemen stand, six on one side and six on the other. As the game starts, both the teams rush towards the sheep and whoever picks the sheep first he tries to reach the other end of the ground. Whereas the opponent players try to snatch the sheep from him by beating, pushing, throwing him out of the horseback. It is a very difficult and dangerous game.

Master horsemanship is needed for it otherwise severe casualties can occur. The winner team proves his valor and horsemanship and is rewarded by the organizers.

Detailed Article on Buzkashi can be found here.

Yanda اينډه

Yanda or Yenda is a very hard manly game played mostly in the southern districts of NWFP. It is most popular amongst the Marwat and Khattak Tribes and there used to be frequent tournaments held on a wide scale in which both tribes would compete against one another. Hundreds if not thousands of people from surrounding areas would come to watch the tournaments. Nowadays, it is not widely played on such a large scale. The game is only played by fast running youths who have tremendous stamina. Two fast runners are the captains (called 'Saraki') of each team.

The rules of the game are that both the opponent players select their team by a way which is called LAPRHY CHEEND OR CHEEND KAPRHI. This is a kind of toss. Two players go to a hide. There they select a symbol for each of them by compromise. They return and ask the Sarakis or captains to go for a symbol. The symbol, which he selects, gets to his team. Turn by turn all other players are divided by this way and the teams are formed accordingly. This team is called DANGAI.

Both the teammates sit on ground and the saraki or captain of a team starts running along the circle. He is chased by two players of the opponent DANGAI and tries to catch him and tries to make him fall. If they succeed in pinning the opponent player down, he is given out and he has to leave the game. But if this player manages to hit the chasing player by his hand then the chasing player is given an out and he is to leave the game.

If the runner is not pinned down then he continues to run where the other team members are sitting. Upon reaching, his round is finished and the other team member starts running. The losing team is that whose members have been evicted from the game such that none are left.

It is a very interesting game and requires complete physical fitness. Such tournaments are accompanied by singers, drum beaters and a very lively crowd. The tribes who are playing chose the strongest of their men to participate in the tournament.

Dagh ډغ

This is the game of shepherds. Those shepherds who take their herds for grassing in the far away fields from their villages, on returning in afternoon to their village home, they play this game on the way back, so that they could reach home in time. It is played between two persons only, but if the shepherds are many in number, they get in twos and start the game among themselves. The game is played by the stick that the shepherds have for his herd. One of the shepherds throws his stick as far away as possible in a manner that it must go rolling on both the ends on the ground. The other tries to hit this stick by throwing this stick in the way. If the rolling stick is hit then the first will have to take the other shepherd on his back to the place where the sticks are lying. If the second player misses to hit the stick then both run fast towards the sticks. Whoever reaches first to the place, is supposed to throw his stick. This is a game to reach home as early as possible.

Tap Taparhay تپ تپاړي

This is a game played among the little girls and boys. A few girls get together and sit in a circle on a pond of water. Two teams are formed each team selects its captain and starts the game. This game is played in question and answers between the two teams. One team's captain asks the other captain.

First: Has my hen come to you sister?
Other: Yes sister.

First: Has she given the egg sister?
Other: Yes sister.

First: Have you kept it for me sister/
Other: No sister.

First: Have you fried it for yourself?
Other: Yes, sister.

First: Have you some for me?
Other: No sister.

First: Then I should quarrel with you little or more?
Other: Little or more.

With giving this answer, both start beating the surface of water with their hands, and this is supposed to be the war between the two. The players who are pushed back lose and are removed from the team.

Parzawal پرزول

Wrestling is the Pukhtoon's favorite pastime. A Pukhtoon boy makes his debut in wrestling and exhibits his skill and physical strength on the village playing field. This provides him with an opportunity to understand the spirit of competition and develop the qualities of tenacity, endurance and sportsmanship at an early stage of his life.

Kabadi کبډي

Kabaddi is a well-known game, not only in the tribal and settled areas of the NWFP but all over Pakistan. Two teams representing equal number of players, take part in this game. A straight line defining the limits of the contending teams is drawn. The game starts with an offensive launched by one of the players against the opponents by crossing the demarcated line. He thus throws an open challenge to his adversaries and makes inroads into their `territory' with words of Kabaddi, Kabaddi on his lips. He runs from one end to the other to touch or slap one of his opponents but at the same time he takes every precaution to avoid being caught. His rivals, on the other hand, tackle him cunningly. They allow him to penetrate deep into their `territory' with an obvious motive to dodge and finally seize him. If the attacker is caught before returning to the line of demarcation, he is considered beaten. If, however, he succeeds in touching one of his opponents and manages to return to his post safely, then the player so slapped or touched is considered out. After this one of the players of the other team launches a counter attack against his opponents. In this way the game progresses. Sometimes it lasts for two or three hours.

Pat Patorhay پټ پټوړې

Pat Patorhay, a game of hides and seeks, is common all over the tribal area. It is also known in same areas as Laroo. Any number of boys can take part in it. One of the boys entrusted with the task of catching other boys, shuts his eyes for a while near a wall or tree. Meanwhile, other boys hide themselves in the surrounding area. The boy opens his eyes with a go ahead signaling the form of Larroo and starts searching for other boys. He, however, keeps a vigilant eye on the movement of his fellow boys who, in turn, try to touch the spot where the boy had shut his eyes earlier. Any boy seized before reaching the post assumes the duty of catching others while the first boy is relieved of his duty.

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Sports and Games of Pashtoons,
Published in Khyber.ORG on Monday, August 31 2009 (http://www.khyber.org)