Nepal | March 25, 2019

More than just child’s play

Himalayan News Service
  • Our readers share that the simple yet fun games like chungi, dandi-biyo, chor-police and more have not only made their childhood memorable and happy but also  taught them important life lessons 

Among many games, my favourite was playing marbles. I remember I once sold rice to buy marbles and got beaten badly. Such memories make me feel good, though. I even bunked classes for playing marbles with my friends. My father used to check my pockets and I used to get punished if marbles were found there. So, I also made secret pocket in my pants.

— Ravikant Yadav, Bara

I would not say it’s my favourite childhood game but chungi taught me an important lesson. In my school days, chungi was very famous. All the girls used to make groups and play during the break time. I was not skilled in this game, while my friends used to excel. I usually was left out as I simply could not play. I tried but could not score more than two or three. Looking at others play made me disheartened. I used to come back home and practise playing it. But the learning process was hard — I often got frustrated in my incapability. But during my winter vacation I practised it daily until I mastered the game. I don’t know whether it was due to the pressure of being left out or the curiosity of finding an answer to why was I unable to play — I was motivated to try and try till I succeeded. It took me long but I can’t express how happy I was when I became a very good chungi player. It was a big achievement for me, at least at that age. I learned the meaning of perseverance at a young age. It feels silly now but whenever I have self-doubt or low self-esteem, I recall my chungi success. I tell myself if I can master something that felt totally impossible for me at one time I can do anything if I put enough effort on it. This childhood game has since then been my motivation booster.

— Newly Tuladhar

As a child I used to play dandi biyo, the former national game of Nepal. I was born in Western Nepal, where this game is mostly played. I was one the best players in school. In 1997, when I was studying in Class VII, I won Rs 200 in dandi-biyo competition. I bought a book related to general knowledge from that sum of money. After reading that book I also participated in an inter-school IQ competition and our school team won the second prize. This was a wonderful and memorable event in my life.

— Mukunda Bhusal

Remembering my childhood and the games that I used to play makes me feel nostalgic. Those days were very precious for me as I was always playing but never felt tired. I was a curious child and studied the depth, tips and tricks of every game. I was fond of playing chungi. Whenever, I played chungi, I reached the target no matter how tired I was. Likewise, I never gave up in any game as I wanted to be the best performer. Therefore, these games have shaped me to become a continued practitioner in every step of my life.

— Bishnu Sapkota,
Hattiban

I vividly remember my early childhood, playing chor-police — making paper guns and cell phones, running here and there, shooting and shouting and the best part was chasing the thieves. I was so fascinated by police officers back then that I hardly became the chor (thief) even for a single game unlike most of my friends who wanted to play chor. Sometimes, I would take the game too seriously and end up beating my friends badly.

I was enthusiastically driven by the personality and attitude of the police officers. Nowadays, I laugh out loud whenever I recall those days acting
like CID’s ACP Pradyuman and breaking  doors like Daya. But I have also realised that my interest and love for their personality and job has carved me into a disciplined, mannerly and an intelligent individual looking to serve our mother nation.

— Prashant Timalsina,
Hetauda

During my childhood I played various games. Mostly I played rumaal-lukai — a game where all participants sit on the floor in a circle, except for one who runs outside the circle to hide the handkerchief behind one of the participants. The one who finds the handkerchief will continue the game. Apart from this, we used to play hide-and-seek, chungi, and marbles. These games help create bonding, cooperation and build a sense of competition among friends.

My childhood had a strong influence of the civil war in the country and we used to make weapons out of wood and fight with each other. Hence, I believe games played during our childhood are also highly influenced by the country’s scenario.

— Ashok Timalsina

Chungi was the most fascinating game for me. The interesting thing about chungi is that it was made from old tyre tubes of a bicycle. During my childhood days, I bunked too many classes only for playing chungi. There was a natural love for this game. Even today, I still love to play it. And, I don’t know how my childhood would have passed without this favourite game.

— Suraj Raj Yadav

Childhood is full of freedom. Children spend most of their time playing various games. In our village hide-and-seek, touch-to-tree and marbles were the most common games. I enjoyed playing them with my friends. I used to like marbles the most because I always won in this game and I would collect many marbles.

Once we were playing marbles in a leisure period in classroom when our Maths teacher entered and snatched all our marbles. He took us to his office and punished us severely. We never played marbles inside classroom after that incident.

However, these days our lifestyle has totally changed with the advancing technologies. Parents also restrict their children to play outdoor games, so they are occupied by cell phones, tablets and televisions. Some cartoon series like Motu Patlu, Duck Tales, and Futurama are very popular among children.

— Prakash Gyawali,
Kirtipur

My childhood days went by playing skipping ropes and chungi. But I mainly loved skipping. I liked to compete with my friends and sisters. I used to play skipping ropes in early mornings and after school and I was a champion. Till now, I love skipping. If I’d get a chance to participate in a skipping competition today I would register without a second thought. It will always be my favourite traditional childhood game.

— Ruja Shrestha

As a child I grew up in village called Nijgadh. We are fortunate as the country was not technologically advanced then, like today. All we had gatta, chungi, ghurra, dandi-biyo, khopi, guchha, bhadakudi instead of electronic gadgets. These games depended on seasons. I miss the time during 1980s and 1990s. We didn’t have to go to school until we were five years old. Our primary school was no less than a junction to hang out with friends where we played football (made of socks by stuffing paper inside it). We all had
the enthusiasm to be like Pele one day.

We also used to make cart ourselves to fetch wood and grass from the forest. We swam until our eyes turned red, sun bathed and played kutil budi. We used to fish for hours and hunted for the birds even during the night. As a teenager playing cards fascinated me. We played it obsessively for long hours. I believe such games have made me a man who can socialise with other people easily. Moreover, these traditional games have helped me to acquire an optimistic and pragmatic personality.

— Shyam Uprety,
Nijgadh, Bara

The different games played during childhood are truly memorable. My favourite game used to be chess. I developed a great interest in chess because of my father. I used to observe and learn many tricks from him. I engaged myself at shops where people played chess. I failed in the beginning but with determination I slowly mastered the game and often defeated other players. This taught me a lesson — if we wish, no challenges or hindrances in life, can stop us from achieving our goals. It helped me a lot to develop the ability of concentration.

— Kamal Aryal, Pokhara

Childhood memories for boys mostly include playing sports to the best we can. I never played traditional games. I enjoyed games like basketball, cricket and football at my own backyard. My childhood started with cricket and football but as I grew up, I got more inclined to basketball. I still play cricket and I’m good at it, but football was not for me.

These sports are connected to your emotions and you excel in them through hardwork and determination — you learn various kinds of skills and lessons. Basketball taught me to work harder. I started practising with YouTube tutorials to improve my basketball skills and now I am on the verge of making my basketball story a success. I am inspired by Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant who push me to be diligent.

— Tulip Gyawali,
Minbhawan, Kathmandu

I did not use to play many games as a child as I was more of an explorer. Travelling has always been my passion and to capture whatever I can through my senses and then later via a camera. I enjoyed travelling and meeting new people. I think my hobby of wandering helped me to learn and observe our beautiful country from a completely different perspective. I found abject poverty in the rural areas as well as great richness in the grandeur of our cultural heritage, the rich biodiversity and diversity of numerous ethnic groups in different pockets of the Himalayas. I felt my passion helped me to provide a world view which empowered me to travel far and wide later in my life and adjusting to new cultures and society on the other side of the planet.

— Saikat Kumar Basu, Lethbridge, Canada

When I was six years old, I used to play chungi — a game where many rubbers are tied together in a bundle and played by legs. It was one of the famous games in our village. We gathered in the playground, divided ourselves into a group and enjoyed playing chungi. I think this game is essential for every child to help improve their physical and mental health.

Nowadays, children are only limited to indoor activities and technology, playing games on laptops, cell phones, tablets et cetera — it increases eye problems, prevents children from experiencing outdoors and socialising.

— Sirjana Panthi

I have no such childhood game in memory which can best define those childhood days. But if I had to name one, I would go for seesaw. I also enjoyed hide-and-seek, climbing trees, swings and cycling. Now, I never think about playing games like such because I’m all grown up now. Of course, they used to give me a lot of pleasure back then. Currently I’m only busy using laptop and watching television sitting at my home. Sometimes I do wish to cherish those memories again.

— Pratik Shrestha,
Buddhanagar, Baneshwore

When I was a child I played a lot of games — gatta, dandi-biyo, ‘l-o-n-d-o-n’ stop, chungi, skipping, yeti yeti paani and other rhyme games. Among them my favourite game was chungi. My friends and I used to play chungi in various ways. Playing in a team developed my leadership as well as communication skills. It was like an opportunity to meet with different people and socialise via concentration and cooperation. It encourages the development of a child’s imagination and teaches self expression.

One incident that I recall is while we were playing chungi, it hit a policeman standing near us. We were terrified but he explained to us that he was dangerous for those people who have committed crimes, and treated us with chocolates. From that day, I developed huge respect for police officers. Childhood is the precious time in a person’s stage to learn so many things and help you to become a better person.

— Nirupama Sapkota

My favourite game as a child was hide-and-seek. It was fun to trick my friends. I was very good at hiding. It’s a popular traditional game
not only in Nepal but all over the world.

— Subhamitta

Born and raised in Gadagalli in Jhapa with goru-gada (a cart made up of wooden wheels and bamboos, pulled by buffaloes or oxen) around, my childhood was fun and different from this technology-driven age. Apart from obvious chungi, pittu (dismantling piled up stones with ball made up of old socks) and gatta, we hid behind tress to hit on somebody’s head giving them tutulko (a head bump). I also remember how we ran back home holding books inside the back of our school shirts and securing it by tying a knot in the front, patting each other hard and escaping saying paalako paicho (tit for tat).

I miss those days. I have been lucky enough to get better high education due to my educated parents. Unlike my current classmates of Kathmandu, my childhood was very typical — khantti gaaule (true villager). And this has helped me become more humble as a person. Not everyone gets to experience these.

— Garima Basnet,
Kathmandu

Games are the tools of happiness for children. Most games are popular in a society as they are associated with some norms and values. When I remember my childhood, it rejuvenates me by reminding me of all the activities I did. One game I played mostly was the role-playing game where I always became a teacher, I do not know why, though. My father saw me once, while I was performing my character of a teacher. He saw innate quality in me and wished to make me a teacher. And, I am a teacher now. That game was a nice framework for shaping my career.

— Rita Timalsina, Lalitpur

Some of my best moments as a child was playing ghar-ghar. I along with my sister used to put on our mum’s sari and play various roles with our own scripts. Now, when I look back I realise that those plays shaped my dreams — it gave me confidence, strength and hope to work for it.

— Sudesha Rimal,
Koteshwore

Children are the happiest when they get to play and that’s the beauty of any sport. As a child my favourite games were kabaddi and dandi-biyo. I was brought up in small village in Palpa, where every child had special attachment with these games. We used to play these during holidays, after school or even during lunch breaks at school. Actually we would play these games just for fun but it also taught me about teamwork, rules, and leadership skills.

— Suresh Khanal,
Rampur, Palpa

I have a smile on my face every time I think about my childhood where I mastered  various traditional games like pittu — a game played using a ball of disposable papers and plastics stuffed inside socks for dismantling a pile of stones, chungi, hide-and-seek, touching pillars and many more that have certainly contributed to make my childhood immensely delightful.

These games have taught me the value of friendship, living in the transitional era that is seeing modernisation and advancement in communication. Moreover, games — no matter how traditional or modern — shape us by teaching us not to lose hope, but emerge with new energy because winning and losing are a part of our lives.

— Gaurav Basnet

 Playing chungi is just amazing. I can still play chungi if I get a companion. I played gatta, chungi, hide-and-seek and more during my childhood. Among these, chungi is my favourite. I used to score more than 50 at one go. Chungi can be played in different ways. I also used to play games like ‘king-kong’ and ‘bomblast’ among others. Not only that, I used to play badminton but with a wooden board.

These games helped me make friends and strengthen bonds. I think these games prevented me from being diverted to bad habits.

Game like hide-and-seek was interesting when played in hilly landscape. These games just didn’t help me to grow physically, but also mentally. Another game that I enjoyed was rumal-lukai. In this game, the participants pretend that they don’t have the scarf with them, to win against you.

Similarly in real life we should be aware of people who just pretend and who our true friends are. Another significance of this game is that there is always a chance to take revenge.

— Binod Shrestha,
Tilganga, Kathmandu


A version of this article appears in print on February 25, 2018 of The Himalayan Times.


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