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Games that rural people play

A. SAYE SEKHAR

What is "Kitti-pullu" in Tamil Nadu is "Karra billa" in Andhra Pradesh.

PHOTO: CH. VIJAYA BHASKAR

TRADITIONAL YET TRENDY: Playing with tops, Karra billa and Oppula guppa at the rural sports meet

While urban India is thriving in the zeitgeist of cricket and soccer, rural India continues to revel in the bliss of ethnic sporting activity. Rural sports carved a special place for itself in the minds of people. While some games are common across the country — though called by different names, a few others are specific to some States. Children and youth spread their palms to catch a spinning top; twist their wrists to hit a gilli with the danda; or aim to shoot a marble with another held firmly against the middle finger at a perfect trigger point. The oldies find "puli-meka" or "ashta-chamma" or a few other table games as their favourite pastime.

Different, yet the same


Every village is dotted with youngsters doing different things and doing it differently. And, it is not as if these rural sports do not have any rules. In a few cases, the rules may change from place to place, but, usually, they are the same. An enthusiast in Vijayawada, S.V.Rama Rao, recently made an effort to compile the rules of as many as 30 games. What is known as "Kitti-Pullu" in Tamil Nadu is "Karra-Billa" or "Billam-Godu" in Andhra Pradesh. This is nothing but the popular "Gilli-danda." Rules of this game have some similarities with cricket. He traces its roots to the "Mahabharata." Several organisations, including Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) and Acharya Nagarjuna University, conducted tournaments of this game in the recent past.

Intuition pays


"Voppula-guppa" is essentially a feminine game, while most others are not gender-specific. Girls do outwit boys in some places in the rural sports. "Thokkudu billa" is a game where hopping and intuition are the keys to success. "Karra saamu" (the swift movement of a long stave) is generally masculine in nature, though a few women do try their hand at it. Breaking of a pot is yet another interesting game where the contestant has to go blindfolded up to the place where a pot is placed facedown and break it with a stick at one go. "Chedugudu" is like the popular kabaddi. In another game a ring is concealed in a mound of sand and the contest is conducted between two players. The one who wins the toss should spot it first.

All games begin with selection of teams by toss and a referee supervises every game. The rulebook has specifications of dimensions of courts, number of teams, allotment of points, winning point, fouls, and other important factors.

Many such games are slowly finding their way into urban India, of late. Some of them are finding place in sports meets and other festivals in cities. The annual Krishna Mahotsav conducted in Krishna district invariably holds competitions in these sports.

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