2012-01-12 11:21:28 UTC
BOOK EXTRACT: By Maria de Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues
This is an extract from the
just-released book 'Games That
We Played: Traditional Goan
Sports'.The 90-page book covers
indoor games (pretending games,
board games like snakes and
ladders, tiktem, tabblam,
waganni, carrom, money-money,
gulianim and draughts), card
games (including burro or
donkey, bluff), outdoor games
(chasing games, catching,
hiding games like non ke par,
and racing games), games of
exertion (including tug of war,
cock-fight or kombea zuz) and
games of skill from marbles or
godde, to cruzada or
attya-pattya, logorio or seven
tiles, fotash or the popgun,
khoindo bhal, and biyanni or
cashew nut based games). Note
that the terms used below are
merely a reflection of the
games as these existed, though
some might be seen as
politically incorrect going by
current standards of usage.
A game may start spontaneously without any ritual to select
who should be the 'chaser'or 'den' by following the norms
applied traditionally by the players. However, children feel
a game is not a proper one if such matters as to who is to be
allowed to play, what the boundaries are to be, and whether
dropping-out is to be permitted have not first been settled.
Most often one player has to take a part that is different
from the rest; and all children have, or affect to have an
insurmountable objection to being the first one to take this
part, and they try their level best to avoid being the
'chaser'or the 'den'.
How to select a 'den'
Different methods are used to select a den:
1. Odd man out: For selecting the person by this method, the
players stand in a circle facing inwards,with their hands
behind their backs, and chant in unison 'Ram, Ram, ray, sai,
They whip their hands from behind their backs, clapping in
rhythm with a palm facing upwards or downwards. On the word
'sutleo', the exercise reaches a climax, and the players stop
clapping. They then look around to see if any player is
'odd', that is to say, holding his hands in a different
position from the others. The majority moves out and the
remaining continue. However, if only two players are left, a
third one joins in to facilitate and decide who the 'odd'one
is from among the last two.
2. The normal way the young decide who is to have the
unpopular part in a game is to form the players in a line or
circle, and count along the line the number of counts
prescribed by the words of some little rhyme. Players form
a circle and one of them starts reciting a rhyme and for
every word he or she points at a player. The player with the
last word is out. This continues till only one player is left.
This player will be the den or chaser and the game begins.
Or, alternatively, he is counted 'out' and stands aside while
the rhyme is repeated and a second player eliminated, and
so on, until only one player remains - on whom the count
has never fallen - and that player is the unlucky one. This
procedure is also known as 'dip'.
There are countless numbers of dips and they can be of almost
any length, cast in almost any mould, be either sense or
nonsense, and need not even be a rhyme. On occassions the
players may merely count to twenty-one and whoever the number
twenty-one falls on becomes the chaser or den. Alternatively
they may recite the alphabet to the twentyfirst letter,
A,B,C,D,E,F, ... S,T, 'You!', or just repeat the vowels
A,E,I,O, You, or ask the player what colour he has chosen.
If its 'ORANGE!' he is asked to spell out and at every letter
point out to a player. For example, O.R.A.N.G.E., You!
Another option can be to count the numbers, like, one, two,
More often the process of 'dipping' is more anxiety prone
and time-consuming as the 'dip' has to be repeated as many
times, less one, as there are players, since the player the 'dip'
ends on is not selected but eliminated. The person pointed
at stands aside, and the rest face the ordeal of being counted
The Rhymes or Chants:
i. Aptti, dhoptti
Gal go, Bebi
Cari miri, cara po!
ii. Aptti, dhoptti,
Caddi go, bebi,
A, po, ginga, po,
Cara, meli, po'.
The above rhyme has variations like 'aptti, dhoptti,
cazuchem pan' ... the rest remains the same.
iv. Addam, Taddam
v. Attli Battli
Tup Korun futtli
vi. Atlo patlo
vii Adao, pedao
Saco de Melao,
viii Inky, pinky, ponky
My daddy bought a donkey
The donkey died,
Inky, pinky, ponky
ix. Eeny, meeny, miney, mo
Catch a nigger by the toe
If he cries let him go.
Eeny, meeny, miney, mo
x. Eeny, meeny, miney, mo
Sit the baby on the po,
When he's don
Wipe his bum,
Tell his mummy what he's done
xi. Dip, dip, dip
My blue ship,
Sailing on the water
Like a cup and saucer
Dip, dip, dip, You are not it.
xii Policeman, Policeman
Don't catch me
Catch the robber
One, two, three.
xiii One, two, three and you go free.
xiv Bubble gum,
Bubble gum in the dish
How many bubble gums
Did you wish
One, two, three, four.
3. Two players who are the leaders will select boys or girls to
be enlisted on each one's side. To decide who should select
first, the two of them stand at a distance, of say four metres
and each one steps up touching his heel to the toe of the
other foot consecutively and move towards each other. The
one who oversteps the other is the winner and has the first
option. The best player is selected first by the winner.
4. Two players, who are leading each side, opt to be any
fruit, flower, animal, or any concrete noun e.g. one could be
'orange' and the other a 'lemon'. To select their respective
team, the remaining players are asked to march to the
singing of the rhyme,
Oranges and lemons sold for a penny
All the good children are so many
The grass is green, the roses red
Remember me when I am Dead, dead, dead, dead, dead!
An arch is made by two players by holding hands, and
they can imprision any player and ask him to select which
fruit he wants, 'Orange or Lemon?' D epending on which
one he selects, the player takes the side of the leader.
However, it may be noted that the selected player does not
know which leader represents an orange or who is a lemon.
In the same manner the players can be selected singing
a Konkani ryhme in which case the player is asked if he
wants a 'Shenvtem' or a 'Gulab', that is chrisantemum or
Amcho kir etolo
Oishim rupea haddtolo
Pakad Pakad Pakad
Shenvtem kai Gulab?
5. Two players, who are the leaders, stand beside each other
and the rest on one side. Each of the remaining players
selects the name of a flower, fruit, etc, for example
'gulab'(rose) or 'dhal'(dahlia). Two of the players, with
arms on each other's shoulder, dancing along towards the
leaders and one of them questions aloud:
and both the leaders reply simultaneously: 'Tirio!'
The first player then fires the question:
'Gulab nam zallear dhal.'
The leaders alternately select the player by mentioning the
name of the flower of their choice, for example 'Gulab'. The
player who has that name moves to the side of that leader.
However, please note that the leaders are not aware of the
names the players have assumed.
The series of queries and replies continue till all the
players are selected to form the respective teams.
Propercia Correia Afonso Figueiredo in her interesting
article titled ' A Magia do Folclore na vida da crianca Indo
Portuguesa', gives us the following description and
ritualistic connection in selecting the 'den' and the other
key player, the 'cannguinue'. After selecting the den who is
considered to be a condemned man a person needs to be
selected as the 'cannguinue'. For better elucidation of her
explanation and connection to the ritual in the game, she
uses the example of the 'hiding game' called 'Apa, lipa' in
A respectable person is selected to be the 'cannguinue', who
has the responsibility of closing the eyes of the condemned
'mahar', the den, and also to look after the area of the
game, so that after the compulsory runs by players, the
'cannguinue' reveals who has 'touched' her. Those who touch
the 'cannguinue' are out of action of 'far', that is, the
touch of the hand of the one who is 'condemned'. This touch
would turn him into a 'mahar' for the next round, if this
'far' materialises, before the player approaches and touches
In this game, the player is selected by reciting a rhyme, and
at every word a player is indicated. The counting is done
from the right hand side, beginning with the person who is
reciting the rhyme. The one on whom the last word falls is
free and is not the first 'mahar'. The round starts again
from the person to the right of the one who is free. As
before the one on whom the last word of the 'magic litany'
falls, is free. At last only two remain. However, even if
the player knows that the number of words are odd and the one
who is repeating them will be 'set free', the children still
do not forego the recitation of the rhyme, as it happens in
religious rituals. The last one who fails to get the 'pass'
or 'safe conduct' is the first 'mahar'.
In these games, one plays or fights against a group, the
child designated by this 'judgement of God' can be considered
as 'tabu', as 'excommunicated' or dart from the group by a
condemnation done in precedence to a judgement. Since the
player is a 'tabu' all should run from her, hide, so that the
'impure' does not transmit to others its impurities, as was
done in the olden days, in relation to the sick with
contagious diseases and those who had done grave disrespect
to the religion.
A formula for freedom exists in all the groups in the
primitive laws about 'tabu'. These are expiatory sacrifices,
fines, acquisition or the conquest of sacred objects, and
finally the 'transfer of evil'. It is therefore, a 'tabu'
for the companion who is blindfolded in 'apa lipa'. He tries
to free himself from this burden, 'by transfering his evil'
to another person of the group. To accomplish this, he
searches for his partners in all the possible hiding places,
running after those who are seen moving to the 'secret
place'. Here the 'tabu' cannot attack him, if the player is
able to touch the 'cannguinue' or the 'docio'. A tree is
chosen to substitute the 'cannguinue'and is called 'docio'
during the game.
The area of action for the 'cannguinue' or the 'docio' is
restricted, and imparted to the folklorists the idea of
comparing it to 'a sacred area'. However, the 'mahar' can
only enter that area if he has touched another player and
passed the 'far' to him.
The 'tabu' who was able to touch any person who has not yet
turned sacred, gives a call that his punishment is over and
that this person should follow him as the den. The remaining
players return to the base since they now have a break, till
the eyes of the new den, the 'tabu' are covered. The break
also continues till all the players do not reply 'zallem'
(ready) to the question asked 'zallem?'(are you ready) by the
The 'tabu' person cannot enter the space guarded by the
'cannguinue', until the time he does not transfer his evil.
This reminds the players of fear of divine punishment until
he washes off his guilt.
There are some other words which are accepted in
all the games. These are: 'tu maca', which means
'I am sorry'. It is said by a player that makes a
mistake; but he has to say it before any other
opponent says 'cuss', which means 'you are caught
by default'. If the den is not prompted to say
'cuss', the other player gets the chance of saying
'tu'. As long as it is said in time, the 'tu' is
like forgiveness and the den cannot take any action
against the player.
In chasing games the player can take a break if he meets
with an accident or is exhausted, by using the word
'ambette/ambettio', which means 'I want a break'. Whichever
player says this word accepted by the den protects him from
the touch/attack of the den. The player also says
'Ambette',which means in this case 'Victory' and is used when
the player reaches safely near the 'cannguinue' and touches
him. This exclamation, when accepted by the 'cannguinue',
announces to the 'tabu' that he cannot touch the player who
has reached the demarcarted area (sacred place).
Another way of asking for a break is by feigning a punch and
taking it below the chin. Sometimes the player touches the
punch with the tongue and says 'ambette'. In this case the
saliva should be visible, otherwise the den can 'cuss' him.
However, if the opponent touches the transgressor, it is
equivalent to 'cuss'. The player who had asked for a break
says 'chimbette' when he wants the truce to be over.
The author, Maria Lourdes Bravo da Costa Rodrigues, can be
contacted via email lbravodacosta at rediffmail.com She is known
for her work at the Central Library Goa, including at its
interesting Goa Books (Rare Books) Section.
This book is published by Leonel das Merces Rodrigues of
Merces, Tiswadi Goa mobile 91-9822165887. It has been
supported by the Crescencia Educational Trust.
AUDIO recording of the launch function