India is a cricket fanatic nation. To say it is cricket crazy, will not do justice to the obsession Indians have. But everybody knows the British brought the sport of cricket to India. What did Indians do before that? There was Gilli Danda, the simple and locally popular game.
Before the British invaded, India was a simple place. Divided into different kingdoms, villages and towns, the people were happy and peaceful. They didn’t have much but they didn’t need much either. Urbanization, modern technology and time changed all of that. We are so busy existing on our phones and screens that we have no time to step out in real life. Children suffer the most due to the increasing rule of screens on our lives. They know only violent video games and constant usage of apps instead of meeting friends. Kids don’t spend hours getting dirty in playgrounds or make up games. Games are now Candy Crush, PUBG, Fortnite and anything that involves simulation. Children of this generation have no need to use their imagination. If you were a child in the 80s or 90s, you know the fun and impromptu sessions of Hide and Seek, Lagori, Land & Water, Gilli Danda and Dodgeball. Childhood involved waiting fervently for school to get over so we could play with our friends. What a wonderful time that was!
Children of 2018 need to know how we played and passed our time. How it helped us become team players, imaginative and intuitive. We formed friendships on the playground and learnt sportsmanship. India has a long history of similar games which have kept us entertained over the centuries. Gilli Danda is one interesting and fun game.
According to ancient texts, Gilli Danda has been around in India for 2000 years. Rural towns and villages adopted this game early on. Some say it has derived from the English game of Tipcat or vice versa. Locally it has various names and is still played in Indian villages. You can call it Guli-Badi in Odisha, Tang Guti in Assam, Gulli Danda in Punjab, Vitti Dandu in Maharashtra and Gooti Billa in Andhra Pradesh. It is also very popular in Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka. Now that you know what it’s called, let’s see what the game really is about.
Gilli Danda is played with 2 sticks-one long and one short. The longer stick is used to hit the short one. The shorter stick can be between 3-6 inches. It is called Gilli. The longer one is between 1 and a half-2 feet and is called Danda.Gilli is small and shaped like a oval. This helps players to grip it easily and work with it. Players are divided into 2 teams of 4 or more players. There is no limit to the number of players who can play in each team. Although the number of players in each team has to be even. A player is selected by Team A and he/she has to hit the Gilli with the Danda as far as possible. While the Gilli is in the air much like a ball, the player has to run to one point (previously decided). If a player or fielder catches the Gilli before the player finishes his run then he is out. Like cricket, if the Gilli falls on the field, any fielder is free to throw it at the Danda. The Danda is usually kept on the ground and not carried with the players as a bat in cricket. Scores are counted on a different basis which is decided by teams or players. Various states have rules that they follow and it keeps changing as you go.
Gilli Danda has been popular in Indian culture, movies and literature. You will find the mention of this sport in several movies and books.