Folk Games In Bangladesh: On The Verge Of Extinction

Modern civilization is the killer of folk games, though it does not necessarily mean it has killed all these sports. These games are so entertaining and amusing that they can survive themselves. When we are in reminiscence, we cannot avoid the sweet memories of these plays. Our childhood days are mostly full of these activities. Still it is a matter of serious concern that these games are substantially confined among the rural and mostly the poor children who are devoid of strong education.

Nowadays, children are engaged with computer and internet-based games. And this is a serious health hazard. Unless they stay outside, walk, move, run and play tricks with their friends, they cannot keep fit. Their mental growth also hinders. On the other hand, the folk sports are traditional and dirty but are greatly healthy. It is found that the children who stay connected with the sun even a little, have their eyesight better than those who stay inside, let alone those kids who are busy with software games. Folk games are always outstanding in terms of physical fitness, mental recreation, and above all, social interactions. Unfortunately, these are hardly possible in case of modern electronic games that are getting more and more popular among the children, adolescent and even adults. This is a serious setback in the way of the natural growth of this generation. In other words, folk games work like medicine. They help build muscle, develop acute flexibility, improve balance and coordination in social affairs, lose weight accordingly and increase endurance. Besides, the players develop leadership, self-esteem, and most importantly, teamwork spirit among themselves.

Folk games make a great change inside the players by increasing energy and confidence. They become more habituated of hard work. They realise the fact that even the hard work is fun when they work together. They develop sound friendship, empathy, helpfulness and the sense of togetherness.

Sound sleep plays a vital role in all spheres. And folk games boost our sleeping habit. As the muscle gets more flexible because of folk games, they contribute noticeably to the sleeping condition. More importantly, these sports energise the players in participating both physical and mental endeavours. On the contrary, software games disturb it significantly. The kids forget to eat and do not follow sleeping hours due to the submersion under these machine games. They do not interact with family members, friends, relatives and neighbours in cases. They do not even attend the social occasions as they fall in love with these virtual games.

Moreover folk games help the players acknowledge their emotions – dealing with frustration after a defeat, with excitement after a win, with anger after performing bad, and with anxiety when they concede a defeat. Folk games are categorized into three parts. Most of these games are played on land, some are in water and a few in the air. Let me discuss in brief a very few of the major games below:

Rumalchor (hanky thief) is played commonly among the rural boys and girls. They sit in a circle and their eyes remain closed. The chor (thief) drops the rumal (handkerchief) behind a player. When he finds the rumal behind, he runs after the thief.

Kanamachi (blind fly) helps the power of concentration. Children stand in a circle. The Kanamachi’s eyes are covered with a piece of cloth. The other children in a circle will keep on enchanting a rhyme. He has to catch one of them and tell the name exactly. Then he will become the kanamachi.

Dariabandha is very popular among villagers. One team will dodge the other team and come back to their previous square court. Contrarily, if a player is touched, the team will lose and the team positions will be reverse. This sport is tough and the players need to be physically strong and speedy.

Kabaddi (Ha-du-du) is absolutely a traditional sport. It requires the best physical fitness. The more stamina and skills the players have, the better it is for them.

Lukochuri (hide-and-seek) is mostly popular among kids. The team of thieves will hide and the team of the police will find out all the thieves.

Ayabga-ayanga (the tiger and the goats) is traditionally played by boys and also by girls. After a circle is drawn, the tiger stays outside and the goats inside the circle. If the tiger can drag a goat out of the circle, it becomes the tiger’s.

Bauchhi (the old lady) consists of 8 to 10 players. One circular and the other rectangular courts are drawn. The Budi (an old woman) stays inside the circle and the rest inside the rectangular court.

Chikka (tug and trip) is good for increasing physical endurance. Both teams stand face to face and a line is drawn to separate the team members. Usually hands are used to defeat the opponents. Legs are also used in this competition. 

Chhadar Khela (rhyming game) is based on a rhyme. The leader sings the rhyme and keeps on touching the open hands of the other players. The hand touched by the last word will close.

Many other games are Chhi-chhattar (the kite and the cocks), Chungakhela (the crackers game), Danguli (tipcat), De Pakhal (turn him around), Ekka-dokka (hopscotch), Gaigodani (tending the cows), Ghuntikhela (game of dice), Golap-Tagar, Gollachhut (touch and run), Gulikhela (game of marbles),  Kadikhela (cowrie game), Kanamachhi (literally, blind bee; blind man’s buff), Lathikhela (club game), Mogalpathan (draughts), Nunta (count till seven), Openti Bioscope, PutulKhela, RajarKotal (king’s constable), Rumalchuri (stealing the handkerchief), Bull fight, Satkhola (dice in seven holes), Cook fighting, Soljhapta (kissing the stick), Bull fight, Boat-race, Holdug (tag me in water), Jhappurikhela, Lai khela (find me out), etc.

A few games are also played in the air including flying kites and pigeons. Flying kites is very popular. When the weather becomes dry and windy, kite-flying starts for recreation. Even competitions take place like who can cut the threads of the other kite just for fun. Every year in Cox’s Bazar, grand competitions are held and a huge number of people from all over Bangladesh gather there. Flying pigeons is another amusing game. For competitions, only Girobaj pigeons are used. Interestingly, a game of hunting pigeons is also played.

Folk games are highly traditional. They ensure chart-topping exercises among the rural people. The players move, jump and swing their arms. These sports are decreasing in urban areas due to technology and the lack of open space. We must ensure opportunities for these games to the city-dwellers as well. Otherwise, health hazards and mental dissatisfaction will soar; fraternity, cooperation and social interactions will evaporate rapidly; empathy and helping tendency will decline significantly. That is why the kids should play for sometime like an hour on the daily-basis so that they stay fit mentally and physically. Considering all these advantages we must say that folk games are way better than those played with the help of some gadgets such as computers, laptops, tablets, mobile sets and other devices.

The writer is Assistant Professor of English and Director of Language Centre at University of Information Technology & Sciences (UITS).