Do children still play Gilli Danda?

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We all have wonderful recollections of the games we used to play after school and during vacations, whether they were indoor or outdoor games. Most of the outdoor activities that were popular back then are nearly dead today, with others on the edge of extinction, thanks to our hectic lifestyles and the urbanization that has engulfed most of the once-abundant playgrounds and open spaces. Gilli Danda, or Chinni Dandu as it is known in Kannada, is one such game that has been forgotten due to a lack of room to play in.

About Gilli Danda

Gilli Danda is a game played with two wooden sticks: the gilli, which is approximately three inches long, and the danda, which is about two feet long. The gilli is tapered at the ends to provide for a strong grip when striking it, and the greatest challenge is to strike the spinning gilli in the air as well as possible.

The game is played between two teams, one of which is on strike while the other is on the field. Individual players can also participate. The striker (the person who hits the gilli) stands inside a tiny circle with the gilli set across a small hole dug out on the ground. The gilli is sometimes balanced on a stone in an angled position, with one end on the ground and the other in the air. To capture the gilli, the fielders take various positions.

How is the game played?

The striker uses the danda to hit the gilli from its position, hurling it in the air and striking it as hard as he can. The player is out if a fielder catches the gilli before it hits the ground. Otherwise, the danda is used to measure the distance between the centre point and the point where the gilli has dropped, with one danda length equaling one point. The game continues with a fielder tossing the gilli (now standing where it had fallen) to the striker, who attempts to hit it. If he misses it in the air, he will touch the tapered end and try to catch it on the ground. He had three attempts at hitting the gilli. If he misses or is caught, the next player will strike, and the game will continue until all of one team’s members have been eliminated. 

The opposing team bats in the same manner, and the team with the most points wins. The game can be played in a variety of ways, and the score is determined by the number of times the gilli is hit in the air. The points are doubled if the player strikes the gilli twice in the air.

Conclusion

Fortunately, this game is still played in Mysuru and its surrounding towns, particularly in the city’s outskirts and extensions, where there is ample space for children to play. It is traditionally played between two teams representing two villages, as well as at local fairs and festivals. The game is especially dangerous because the gilli can strike bystanders or players, causing serious injuries. But still this game is one of the most memorable games of every child.