Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

Milchar

Lalla-Ded Educational and Welfare Trust

  Kashmiri Pandits' Association, Mumbai, India

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Milchar
January-March 2003 issue

Sharika Bhagwati painting

Sharika Bhagwati in Kashmiri Panditani attire
(Photo courtesy, Vitasta Annual, Kashmir Sabha, Kolkata)

Table of Contents

Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri

 

Our Heritage
Haaran Gindun
The Game of Cowries
... Dalip Langoo
Dalip LangooHaar is a small molluscan seashell. In Kashmiri it means the money or a playing object.  It is an ancient game that Kashmiri Pandits used to play on the eve of Maha Shivratri.  We as children used to derive immense enjoyment from the calculations involved in playing the game. Haar (Kaudi in Hindustani) is the main component of the game and and the participants can number from two to any limit. There are rules and regulations, to be followed by the players very strictly, especially on the day of Salaam, which falls on the next day after Shivratri pooja. The players gather in a room of the house. This was one of the most popular indoor games known in Kashmir amongst Kashmiri Pandits. Hardly anybody plays the game these days. But the memories of enjoyment it used to give when we were children, the feeling of togetherness and love we used to have and the excitement of winning the game are some things we always long for. 

Description of the Game

  • Haar (The Playing object),

  • Chaakh is the measuring unit consists of four Haar’s,

  • Minimum of two Haars to start a game,

  • Kunyi (Combination of single Haar resulting the win),

  • Pushraan Dabu (To add a Haar on a particular number as decided), 

  • Juph Taaq (Even and Odd combinations: In this odd numbers were to be won and even means  to pass on the game to next the player adding a Haar to the rest of Haars on surface), 

  • Chaakan (Combination of Four results the win), 

  • Duchi (Combination of Two results the win),

  • Shartal means the betting,

  • Tichan means to strike with one Haar another one, usually children play in this way. These are the various ways of playing. 

  • Players sit in a circle or opposite to each other depending on the number of players.

  • Botul (Yellowish Haar with difference) or a Krend Haar (Broken Haar), Nich Haar (The Small Haar), Vyeth Haar (The Big Haar) are some other different shapes of Haar. Different Haars were used for toss purpose and these were collected and thrown on the floor. This was the way to select the player who plays it first.

Rules of the Game

  • All participants who know how to play should maintain the decorum of the game and have patience while playing it.

  • When agreed to play any particular type of the game, one should strictly follow the norms, didn’t mix the tactics of another form of the play (No cheating please). One can be disqualified on creating unnecessary discussions.

  • Whosoever should be capable of playing and posses the Haar in plenty so that one can play. To own the Haar is important because Haar is to be lost or won by a player. In our times we had created a new system of counting points and at the end all the players were given their Haars back by repurchase formula.

  • The duration of the game as in other games is never set but it can continue till agreed duration by the participants.

  • Each player should possess a Botul a Haar with a different look so that one can find it easily to which player it belongs, which will be used to decide the first member to start the game.

  • The Botul was also used as Joker in the cards. 

  • Plane surface to be used to make a throw of Haars on the floor.

  • A clean sheet of single color also was used to make counting of Haar’s visible.

  • If there are more than two people participating then a circle was to be formed and so on.

  • In case of two members they use to sit opposite to each other.

  • In case of many participants a bowl was used to collect the Haars.

  • The most competent person only used to count the Haars thrown on the floor.

  • Everything was decided in the beginning of the game as how and what to do by whom.

  • The job was divided amongst few experts who were assisted by the player and a person sitting by his or her side.

  • This game was strictly played on the eve of  Shivratri locally known as Herath and not on any other occasion.

Different Ways to play the Game

  • Kunyi: The game was played with the help of a Haar, which is the only source of the game. There should be four Haars compulsory to play it. In this game the Haars are taken in the hand and thrown on the surface. Kunyi means a single odd number, which confirms the win. If one doesn’t get this formation of numbers no one is declared the winner. Only if the single Haar is fallen on the surface upward down or vice versa the player is declared the winner. All the four or more Haars, which one throws on the surface, belong to that particular player. The game continues likewise till one accepts the defeat or one is short of Haars.

  • Pushraan Dabu: Pushrawun means to add. Even and odd number of the Haars is important in determining the play towards winning. In this type each member contributes one or more as decided to start the game. With all these the Haar’s thrown on the surface are calculated and if the even number of Haars are upwards down then one has to add to it one or as decided Haar and thus the game continues. If one gets three upwards down it is called to be Chhout meaning ‘no results’ so it was passed on to another player. Also if all the Haars fall in their normal or upward down position in both the cases it is Chhout meaning no results. In this too the game is passed on to the another player. In case of Chhout by Three Haars one doesn’t have to add anything but pass on to another player. In case of Chhout by another means one has to add a Haar or Haar’s as decided and pass on the game to next player sitting in a circle in clockwise direction. In case one gets odd one’s on the surface these are to be considered won by the particular player except three Haars. The game is carried on or if a single Haar is in opposite position upward down or vice-versa the whole lot of Haars are won.

  • Juph Taaq: (Even and Odd): This is similar to that of the above mentioned style but with little difference that is in this odd numbers were to be won and even means to pass on the game to next the player adding a Haar to the Haars on surface. In this there is no three Haars- no result concept, those combinations are to be won too. In this only if all the Haars fell in similar way then only Chout, no result is considered. 

  • Chaakan: (Combination of Four results the win) In this it is decided in the beginning of the game that only if combination of four fells on the surface all the Haars are considered to be won. In this the contribution of each individual is to be four Haars. 

  • Duchi: (The Combination of two decides the win) Similar as above but instead of four two determines the game. There can be any number as decided for the game.

  • Shartal: (Means the betting) In this two or more players bet and hide Haars in the hands the opponent has to tell if there is even or odd number of Haars which decides the game. 

  • Tichan: means to strike one Haar with another, usually children play in this way. Two Haars are taken for play each in each player’s hand. The Haars are kept on the plane surface and both strike the Haars one by one and if the Haars are touched the win is declared. At the end whosoever won the maximum number is the winner.

  • Hu Kus Bu Kus: In this Children first play a game with the rhyme which is sung and then hands put on the floor in a similar fashion are turned at the end of last word one by one at each time the rhyme is repeated. It is already decided in the beginning that whosoever will be the first to achieve it, will be given Haaru Chaakh, four Haars by each participant. In this main thrust is being given on the spiritual aspect and entertainment too as well.

The Haars were given to daughters on the eve of Herath/ Shivratri when they returned from their Maalyun (father’s house). Other games like Carom, Chess, Cards, and Ludo etc.took its place and today it is hardly played anywhere. After exodus once I played it with my Bua ji (Poph) at New Delhi, who remembered her childhood days and tears appeared in her eyes that we have lost everything in Kashmir and similarly this Gindun the playing of the game of Haars too! We might have lost everything but not Buttill (the phenomenon of being a Batta as locally a Pundit is called in Kashmir). If the game of 'Haaru gindun' is lost today it can be revived and we can keep alive our traditions, which make us what we are. 

 I personally appeal to all concerned to support the cause of Buttill that is being crushed at each and every point, be it politically, socially, economically or in any other way. But this is the high time for Kashmiris to collect all treasures and share them to keep ourselves alive as Battas.
 
 
 

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