Learn about the rich Punjabi culture and traditions. Also read about Punjabi history.

Culture of Punjab  |  Architecture  |  Clay Toys & Pottery  |  Mudwall Painting  |  Phulkari  |  Cloth Printing  |  Clothing  |  Metalwork
Hukka  |  Comb  |  Basketry  |  Woodwork  |  Minor Arts  |  Folk Dances  |  Mirasi  |  Leatherwork  |  Games  |  Painters  |  Travel
History of Bhangra  |  Poets and Writers  |  Literary Heritage  |  Battle of Scripts  |  Punjabi Diaspora  |  Instruments  |  Family

Toys and Games

People of Punjab entertain themselves in a variety of ways. These include games, dhangals (wrestling bouts), folk songs and dances, kite flying, cock fights, etc. The games in Punjab are suitable for children, youth, adult and old people alike. Many of these games have been lost in the evolution of history, and the ones that remainare losing for perhaps these are not in fashion except a few which still survive.

GAMES

Tirinjen

One of the popular organized forms of work and entertainment for young girls is Tirinjen - where the girls spin and sing. Tirinjen is a kind of social club, which can be organized in any home, where place for spinning wheels and the girls is available for a day/night. The girls would sing and dance, would express their sorrow and happiness, pangs of separation and joy of meeting. The spinning wheel plays a significant role in the life of the women, as a companion, counselor in distress, friend and guide. An example of a song sung by a married girl during Tirinjen:

Charkha mera rangla, vich sone dian mekhan,
Ni mai tenu yaad karan, jad charkhe wal dekhan.
My spinning wheel is multi colored
Inlaid with nails of gold,
I think of you
Whenever I see my spinning wheel.
Har charkhe de gere
Yad awen toon mitra
Each circle of the wheel,
Brings your sweet memories to my mind.

'Teej' or Teeans, which is celebrated in the month of Sawan (July), is also a source of entertainment for girls. Teej festival starts on the third day of Sawan and continues for about thirteen days. This is a period when rainy season is at its best, having said good bye to the scorching heat, people are out to enjoy the rains. It is also the time for sowing. The whole atmosphere is relaxed and people have a sigh of relief. The girls celebrate it by having swings. One sees girls, even today, on the swings all over the villages during the rainy season. They have new clothes, special dishes to eat and special songs for the occasion. This festival has also made inroads into the urban society. A number of songs are sung during the occasion pertaining to various aspects of the social life.

Ral auo sahio ni,
Sabh tian khedan jaiye
Hun aya sawan ni
Pinghan piplin ja ke paiye
Pai ku ku kardi ni,
Sahio koel Hanju dolhe
Papiha wekho ni,
Bherha pee-pee kar ke bole.
Paye pailan pande ni,
Bagi moran shor machaya.
Arhio khil khil phaulan ne,
Sanu mahia yad kariya.
Come on all friends!
Let’s go and play Tian,
The Sawan Heartens us,
Let us hang the swings on the Peepal.
Swinging ku-ku O friends!
The cuckoo sheds its tears
And behold this Papiha
Which goes on singing pia-pia.
The peacock dances gleefully
Filling the garden with its crowings
These wretched blossoming flowers
Remind us of our Ranjan.

Kikli
This is another game, basically for women. Two girls clasp their hands and move in circle. This was a game, which was played by two or four girls and multiple of two thereof.
Kikli kleer di,
Pag mere vir de,
Daupatta mere bhai da
Phitte mun jawai da

Gheeta Pathar
Some pebbles, stones or broken earthenware could be broken further into pieces and used for playing Gheeta Pather. This was a game, which did not involve running or jumping and was played sitting on the floor.

Khidu
The girls would sing along with Khidu (Ball), in fact these rhymes and game is suitable for the children: This was for the first round, there was the second and third till the end was reached by counting ten and singing the tenth song.

Kokla Chhapaki
This game is popular even today amongst the children. Both boys and girls play it. Children sit in a circles and a child who has cloth in hand goes around the circle-singing: It is a kind of warning for the children sitting in a circle not to look back. The cloth is then dropped at the back of a child. If it is discovered before the child who had placed it there had completed the round, the child who discovered the cloth would run after him and try to touch him with it till he sits in the place vacated by the one who had discovered the cloth.

Chicho Chich Ganerian
This game is for both boys and girls. It is generally played by two teams and involves drawing as many vertical lines as possible.

Lukan Miti (Hide & Seek)
This was also played by both boys and girls and continues to this day. Two teams can also play this. One has to hide, the other has to seek but before doing it a call is given.

Guli Danda
This is basically a game for the boys and is the simplest version of modern cricket. It is played with a wooden stick and 'guli' (another small wooden piece pointed at both the ends.) Two teams divide themselves, one throws the guli and the other team uses the danda- (stick) to strike it. There are various other games that are played with Guli Danda

Kidi Kada or Stapoo
This is a game played both by the girls and boys. It is still common amongst some of the children. This game is played with in small boundary (court), drawn on the ground and a piece of stone.

Ghaggar Phissi
This is another game for the boys. One boy would bend and the other boys, may be one or two or three get on top of him, if he could bear the weight, he would win. In case he could not bear the weight and fell, he would lose.

Kabbadi
This game is popular even today and is played now by both boys and girls. This was included in the Asian Games also and is popular all over south Asia. The game is played between two teams. A line is drawn between the two teams and each team would send a player across the line. If the player after crossing the line is able to touch a player of the opposite side and came back without being caught, the team doing so would win and a point was added to its score. This process by the player crossing the line has to be performed in a single breath. The team with higher score would be the winner

Rasa Kashi (Tug of War)
The men generally played this game. These day’s women also participate in the game which is played by two teams. A line is drawn between the two teams, each having one end of the rope in its hands. The team, which is able to drag the other team to its side, is the winning team.

Akharas
These were very popular. Located near the well outside the village, sometimes near the temple. These were the places where the boys learnt wrestling from a Guru or Pehlwan-Wrestler.

Martial Art
This was also a part of the teaching in Akharas, where the boys learnt the use of weapons. Nihangs practice martial arts to keep up the traditions.


Kite Flying (Patang Bazi)
It is now very much an urbanized game and is popular with the rural folks as well. It has now assumed an International character.
Besides the games mentioned above, Chaupat, Shatranj (Chess), camel and bullockcart races, cock fights in addition to Kabutar bazi, chakore bazi and bater bazi are well known.
LATTOO ( yo-yo), played mostly by the boys.

SPORTS MEET

Today in almost 7000 villages in Punjab in one decade or the other rural sports competitions are being held. Rural folk organize them. In fact these village sports have opened the floodgates of village development.
Before Independence in 1947 major importance was given only to Kabaddi and wrestling, after Independence the circle of rural sports also got widened. The rustic "Khido Khaoondi" (literally a ball made out of cuttings of cloth and a stick twisted at the end like a flat hockey and players from villages, having no facilities beyond uneven grounds to play began to dominate in the game. Twelve of our country’s greatest hockey players have come out of a single village called SANSARPUR in Jalandhar District.

TOYS
The earliest hand-made toys of Punjab can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilization, dating from 2500 to 1700 BC. These bear a remarkable resemblance to the traditional toys of a much later period, which remained popular though the ages till recently when factory made toys found their way to the villages. However, in some the remote village’s traditional toys are still made, though the factory made mass-produced toys are pushing them out gradually.
Among the most prominent toys of Indus Valley Civilization is the exceptionally large number of small terracotta carts. In their expression is a preoccupation characteristic of Indian Art of the subsequent epochs. As example we may cite the immense 12th century Temple of the Sun at Konark, a building of vast dimensions supported by gigantic stone wheels and conceived and erected in the form of a cart. Or the Indian temple cart in which images of the gods, taken from the shrines, were carried in solemn procession through the streets. These more obvious instances are paralleled by later works of folk art depicting animals, equestrian figures and wheeled vehicles, all of which, though varying in quality and intended for different purposes, also mostly as toys, may be regarded as belonging to a constantly recurring type.
Traditional toys generally serve a two-fold purpose. They can be used as playthings by the children and as decoration pieces by the adults. Toys of cloth stuffed with cotton are still made by the women in the villages. Dolls, birds and animals are some of the common subjects. These are embellished with colorful additions of beads, buttons, feathers, tinsels and tassels. Sometimes the body of the toy is appliqued. The material used in this folk art reflects the dynamic spirit of improvisation. Besides their ornamental quality these toys have a sentimental value as well as emotional appeal
The popularity of the clay toys is diminishing day by day but still there are to be seen sporadic instances of miniature dolls in clay, animals and kitchen utensils, roughly colored with kharia mitti and decorated with motifs in bright colors.
Edible toys in sugar have a great variety of shapes. In village fairs one comes across toys with a scientific touch though naively native in character. In a basin of burnt clay is a figure of a man carrying Lord Krishna and a concealed siphon. When the water is poured into the basin, it rises to the feet of Lord Krishna and flows away, commemorating the rise of the waters of the Jamuna to touch the divine feet.

In the past, village workers would bring a newborn infant toys, representative of their respective trades. Thus a carpenter’s wife would bring a miniature bedstead or a toy cart to earn a rupee from the infant’s parents. The potter would bring a small earthen vessel or a toy in clay and the cobbler a leather necklace and receive some grain in return.
As the countryside is becoming more urbanized, the tradition of handmade toys is dying out and with it the individuality of design. This is not something, which can be revived artificially, for to do so would be to get the antithesis of the genuine tradition. But by preserving samples from the past we may, through contemporary designers, regain some of the beauty, individuality and delight of the simple form of old toys.

Folk Toys of Punjab

A large number of those belonging to art circle tend to ignore creative works of the village folk and thus add their bit not to conserve village culture already gravely undermined by rapid changes. Their concern, particularly of those whose philosophy of life-style revolves round self-ego, are little concerned with the past and the cultural heritage. This vision of theirs often perpetrates that of their former colonial masters and, sometimes, they even go to the extent of deprecating observations made by the great Indian men of art like A.K. Coomaraswamy.

In this context it is nearly paradoxical that they appreciate great modern masters like Gauguin and Picasso without even realising that Gauguin's success depended on his interest in primitive art and that of Picasso on the discovery of African Negro sculpture.

Among the native art forms one of the most ignored is of folk toys, which unfortunately, like many other forms of village culture, has been considered a kind of vanity or at the most as synonymous with mere decoration, but this is not true. They are the products Of artistic and social values combined.

The earliest hand-made toys of punjab can be traced back to the Indus Valley Civilisation, dating from 2500 to 1700 B.C. These bear a remarkable resemblance to the traditional toys of a much later period which remained popular through the ages till recently when factory made toys found their way to the villages. However in some of the remote villages traditional toys are still made, though the factory made mass produced toys are pushing them out gradually.

Among the most prominent toys of Indus Valley Civilisation are the exceptionally large number of small terracotta carts. In their expression is a preoccupation characteristic of Indian Art of the subsequent epochs. As example we may cite the immense 12 th century Temple of the Sun at Konark, a building of vast dimensions supported by gigantic stone wheels and conceived and erected in the form of a cart. Or again we might recall the Indian temple carts in which images of the Gods, taken from the shrines, were carried in solemn procession through the streets. These more obvious instances are parallelled by countless later works of folk art depicting animals, equestrian figures and wheeled vehicles, all of which, though varying in quality and intended for different purposes, also mostly as toys, may be regarded as belonging to a constantly recurring type.

Traditional toys generally serve a two-fold purpose. They can be used as playthings by the children and as decoration pieces by the adults. Toys of cloth stuffed with cotton are still made by the women in the villages. Dolls, birds and animals are some of the common subjects. These are embellished with colourful additions of beads, buttons, feathers, tinsels and tassels and also with coweries. Sometimes the body of the toy is appliqued. The material used in this folk art reflects the dynamic spirit of improvisation. Besides their ornamental quality these toys have a sentimental value as well as emotional appeal.

The popularity of the clay toys is diminishing day day but still there are to be seen sporadic instances of miniature dolls in clay, animals and kitchen utensils, roughly coloured with kharia mitti and decorated with motifs in bright colours.

Edible toys in sugar have a great variety of shapes. In village fairs one comes across toys with a scientific touch though naively native in character. In a basin of burnt clay is a figure of a man carrying Lord Krishna and a concealed syphon. When the water is poured into the basin, it rises to the feet of Lord Krishna and flows away, commemorating the rise of the waters of the Jamuna to touch the divine feet.

In the past, village workers would bring a new-born infant toys, representative of their respective trades. Thus, a carpenter's wife would bring a miniature bedstead or a toy cart to earn a rupee from the infant's parents. The potter would bring a small earthen vessel or a toy in clay and the cobbler a leather necklace and receive some grain in return.

In the eastern districts of Haryana, the ironsmith's wife would bring a tiny iron ring for the child's foot and be given a garment or some sweetened bajra in return.

As the countryside is becoming more urbanis , the tradition of handmade toys is dying out and with it the individuality of design. This is not something which can be revived artificially, for to do so would be to get the antithesis of the genuine tradition. But by preserving samples from the past we may, through contemporary designers, regain some of the beauty, individuality and delight of the simple form of old toys. But a prerequisite for this would be that those of the art circle who repudiate everything of the cultural heritage, particularly of native arts and crafts, shun this attitude and, thus, strengthen the mutual understanding of cultural diversity and the affirmation of that identity on which each people's creativity is based.

Sources: Cultural Heritage of Punjab, K C Aryan