Tired of cricket? Try gulli danda, pitthu or baander killa!
Growing up in the streets of Punjab, we enjoyed playing popular sports such as cricket, hockey and football, but the real flavour of street games was in our local folk games.
This piece is dedicated to all those who have played any of these games in their childhood and I hope it serves as a pleasant trip down memory lane.
The name might sound funny and the game actually looks so too, but it isn’t funny for one person – the baander (we’ll get to that in a bit).
Every participant of the game takes his shoes off and places them around a killa, that is, a wooden stake pinned to the ground. A rope or string of around two meters long is attached to the stake.
Selection of the baander:
Puggan pugayee is the usual way of selection.
I can still remember the bright smiles seen on the faces of boys who escaped being baanders.
Once we have a baander, the game starts. The poor baander is meant to guard the shoes while holding the string with one hand – this is all while the rest try to snatch the shoes.
If someone trying to snatch a shoe is touched by the baander, he becomes a baander (yes, it’s contagious!) As soon as the last shoe gets picked up, the baander starts running toward a pre-agreed finish line some 50 yards away.
During this run, everybody throws shoes that they have picked up at him while he dodges the shoes. This violent part of the game is in fact the most fun bit!
In this game, there are no winners but one loser.
Toughest part of this game as a kid was to hold your tears when being sprayed by shoes.
I never thought I’d ever say this but Baander killa has made me a stronger person!
Also known as “pitthu garam”, this is a rather well known game in streets of Pakistan.
1 soft ball (usually a tennis ball is used)
6-8 small pieces of bricks/stones that can be piled up like a mini tower
Each player of the team taking the first turn (Team A) gets three chances to strike a pile of stones with a ball from a distance of 3-4 metres.
Once a player hits the pile, the other team tries to catch the ball before it bounces and if they are successful, Team A loses its turn. However, if they can’t catch it before it bounces, which is usually the case, the real game begins.
Now Team A has to reassemble the pile while Team B has to stop them by hitting them with the ball. If a player gets hit, he is out of the game. If Team A completes the pile, they have scored!
I’ve never played a game of pitthu that didn’t end in free style seka. Seka is where all the players hit each other with the ball (sometimes not even caring about which team they are from.) So yes, this game involves and ends at (some harmless) violence too.
I liked pitthu the most because it had all the excitement — aiming, running, catching, hitting and so on.
Gulli danda (also pronounced gilli danda), is another popular game. Played with two wooden sticks, it is somewhat similar to cricket and baseball. One longer stick (the ‘danda’) is like a bat. The gulli, a small piece of wooden stick, is placed on the ground and the batsman (or the danda-man) strikes it to raise it up in the air and then hits it hard to throw it as far as possible. The fielders have to fetch the gulli and throw it back to the batting circle before the batsman runs to the finish line to run him out. If they can’t, it’s a score.
Photo: Areesh Zubair
While playing street cricket, if someone plays rash shots, he is taunted and asked to go back to gulli danda. Gulli danda players often turned out to be great hitters of ball in cricket.
Photo: Areesh Zubair
Also known as bantay, is played with small marbles.
My golfer friends might consider it blasphemy but in a way, this is a mini version of golf. It involves marbles and aiming to put them into the holes in the ground in as few as strikes as possible. Instead of clubs or sticks, the game is played with fingers which are used like a bow. It is a very delicate game. The not-so-delicate part of the game is that since it is played on the ground, kids tend to get their hands and clothes all dirty, which makes mothers hate this game.
But, hey, what’s the fun of playing a game if you don’t get your hands dirty in the process?
Photo: Areesh Zubair
The game is usually attached with a prize: winner takes all.
The prize is all the qainchay of the opponent.
There are many other indoor and outdoor games that we all played as kids. Alongside playing and following the western games, we must encourage the next generations to stay in touch with our own cultural games as well.
Let them taste the warmth of a ‘yassoo panjoo’ game!
PHOTOS: AREESH ZUBAIR
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