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    Ben-Tay

    To welcome my buddy Xtreme as the Captain of this Section, and to introduce you all (or those who are not familiar with this sport) to a sport that is indigenous to Punjab and has been played there for over about 4000 years (there is a dispute to that account, as most history books tell us that Glass was invented around 4000 BC (bronze age) in Eastern Mediterranean. But Chinese believe that they invented Glass). But Marbles (round shape glass balls) for sure were invented in China some 4000 years ago (it was invented by accident by a drug addicted Chinese Glass Maker, like most other Chinese inventions). There is a long story about that, which we can talk later. Considering our locale so close to China, we can deduce that Marbles were first brought over to the Indian Sub-Continent by the Silk Traders of Central Asia. Punjabis must have found some use of it, and used this rather neat looking ball to play Ben-tay.

    There are 2 variations: Khari-Chout (Playing while standing up); and Beythee-Chout (playing in a squatted position).

    Let’s talk about Beythe-Chout first.

    Rules: Many players can play, there is no official limit as to how many can play at a time. A Khutee (or Pill) “hole” is dug in the floor, usually a dirt floor. The regulation dimension of a Khutee is about 2” wide and about 2” deep (a little smaller than the Golf Hole. The object of the game is to “win” opposing players’ Marbles. The way it works is first, Bari (turns) are decided by throwing Marble towards the Khutti, and the player close to Khutee goes first. The distance between the sitting position and Khutti is about 10 feet. After the Baris are decided, the first player throws (there is a regulation position for throwing as well: Thumb of your left (or right) hand should touch the ground, while you hold the marble with your “f” finger, while your holding hand (or the “F” finger) is stretch backward by your other hand’s thumb and index finger together and the Marble is released by letting the “F” finger go. The next player tries to hit the other’s Marble, and if he (generally He) is successful then he must “confirm” his hit by trying to put his own marble into the Khutti. If he is successful doing that, then he wins the Marble of the other guy.

    So this is how this game is played. There is some specific terminology that goes along with this game. For example, “Tuk-Pill-DuGaR” meaning that one player can Hit two opponents’ marble in one shot and then go to Khutee to win both Marbles.

    So, if you have any more questions about this beautiful game of Punjab, ask me by any means.

    #2
    good topic NYA, when can we expect one on gulli-danda?


    Q: When 'shooting', do you have to use that finger, the whole finger and no other finger?

    Comment


      #3
      Elmo Yaar,

      I have seem some players use different finger positions and stance (like cheechee (little) finger on the ground, and hold the Marble with thumb and index finger, while releasing it with a Carem-Board strike like position of the striking hand). But only a few players master that position, as it is rather hard to control the movement of Ben-ta, and the “Ant” (to hit target) can be effected. So to answer your question, it is not mandatory to use the F Finger, one can use other fingers as they find suitable to make a good Ant.

      Comment


        #4
        Thank you NYA yaar, it's a great post and most appreciated. I know nothing about this game at all, but it is a nice little window into a genuine cultural pastime. If the positions you mentioned are what I think they are I might need to get back to you on this one.

        Comment


          #5
          A copy of this must also be maintained in Culture forum simultaneously.

          A few pointers on the Ant. 'Ant Pakhana' is the term used to sharpen/focusing the aim to hit the target. The common technique involved is by releasing the Ben-ta as if rotating it like a 'latoo' on the ground first by using the mechanism of 'F' finger movements as described by NYAhmadi (The mechanism is pretty similiar to using the bow and arrow in a way). This gives an extend control over the Ben-ta and aiding stretch to the 'F' finger, hence enchancing the overall chances of hitting other guy's Ben-ta.

          Some of the experts of this game actually achieve such a mastery over this practice that observing the perfect spin of the Ben-ta released in such a fashion itself becomes an amusing view. You can clearly see the skillfulness, the control, and the commanding movements of the fingers to judge the level of mastery a particular player has over this spectacular sport.

          Hitting the target involves two basic techniques:

          1- Hitting the opponent's Ben-ta without having one's own Ben-ta pitching or touching the ground (a great exciting moment of the game since the Ben-ta is flying in the air with enormous speed and the collision sound it makes if it hits the other Ben-ta is taunting for the opponent). This technique involves agression and belligerence, and hence is very exciting.

          2- Hitting the opponent's Ben-ta tactfully by having one's own Ben-ta either rolled on the ground throughout the gap or having it pitched on the ground at least once. This technique is less on the agression side and more the winning manenuvering end. This is more successful on the grounds that are dipless and consistently flat. Also, the first technique works best when the gap is shorter between the hitting the hit Ben-ta. For bigger gap, the second technique works best.

          Now I'll leave it to NYAhmadi to describe hitting a Ben-ta from different angles to get advantage of getting hitter's Ben-ta to move closer to other opponents' Ben-tay so that he can hit more Ben-tay on the same turn.

          The next kin of this sport is Akhrot which can only be played as Khari-Chout.

          Comment


            #6
            NYA and Roman, great posts!! I remmembered seeing different varietes of bent-as, like the ones used as a striker were always black in color, and the others ones with different bands of colors embedded.

            Comment


              #7
              Rom Yaara, Dil Khush kar dita ee!

              As Roman has so beautifully explained that this game requires skills and it is true like any other sport that one can practice all he wants, only a few have a natural talent to excel. Roman explained how Ben-tas are hit, think of a skilled snooker player who knows where the white ball will sojourn after pocketing the red ball. Good Ben-ta players also strike with such precision that they know where the striking Ben-ta will stop. I love the hits where the striking Ben-ta just stays right on the spot of where the target was before it was hit.

              One more thing I would like to add is that this game (although it is disappearing now) was associated with kids of working class or poor parents, and more middle class and wealthy parents will not let their kids play Ben-tas. I remember playing Ben-tas in my childhood during the hot days of summer (summer holidays) and was often caught playing by either a relative or my dad and would receive a “Phaintee” and all my Ben-tas will be confiscated. (Those phaintees never really made me give up the game that I loved so much.) The same guys, whose parents will not let them go out to play Ben-tas never really succeeded in life more than those who played Ben-tas. So the ‘guilty by association’ view of Ben-ta players was only a sociologically misconstrued conception. Anyhow, I was not very good, but was not bad either. I could strike a Ben-ta from about 8 feet (flying in the Air, as Roman said). I believe that I had a good Ant.

              I wish I could put some photos in the Picture Gallery to explain some basic positions to those who are not familiar with this game. I will try to do that.

              Now let me ask you if any of you ever played (or are familiar with) “DabyaN”. DubyaN (empty cigarette packs) is also another game that I played in my youth.

              Comment


                #8
                outlaw,

                Actually the color of the striker is simply a player's choice, just to kinda represent his trademark. What's more important is the size of the striker(s).

                In different situations, different strikers may be used. Usually a player holds up to three different strikers in the hand while trying to strike. The chosen striker for a particular hit is used to perform 'Ant Pakhana' act while the other two are held in the hand that uses the index finger and the thum to spin around the striker for Ant (usually the right hand). The two reserved strikers and held skillfully in the dips formed by the 'cheechee' finger and the next one, and between the next dip of the next finger and the 'F' finger, respectively.

                Many times, a striker needs to be smaller in size for to get advantage of the position after it strikes the opponent's Ben-ta as NYAhmadi illustrated by using snooker example. Also, many times two opponent's bentay are placed so close together that you have to point out which one you intent to hit, and to make a closer, better hit, a smaller sized striker is preferrable.

                Ahmadi yara, ki yaad kara dita ee! I remember using Wills, K2 Filter, Laltain cig dubiyaaN to play that sport.

                I remember once I was playing dubiyaN in the Shah Abdul Ghani Mazar graveyard in Baghbanpura when I was a little kid when my Late elder brother caught me playing it. He dragged me from the graveyard back to our house, beating the **** out of me throughout the way back home, reprimending on playing with those other guys etc. When we reached home, he then hugged me and apologized and bought me lunch to eat and handed over a story book and said that I should be reading books in my spare time instead of playing dubiyaN with those 'awara' bachay and reading books makes decent humans and I was supposed to be decent and different than those other guys. That was the last time I ever played dubiyaN.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Rom Yaar, I hear what you are saying. All those good times were obtruded and butted in by our elders. I remember many such times when my butt would be dragged home. Weather trying to “MaNgha the dour for kite flying”, or playing Ben-teys, or Dunda Chuman, or even “Tilo Express”. But I still managed to sneak out and participate in all those forbidden activities. I was an average student, so my parents never really gotten mad with me for brining average grades home, they would be happy had I had just passed but not spent time (they called it “wasted”) with those “others”. But that is past now.

                  I had bundles and bundles of DubyaN in my collection. Bagla, HathoRa, K2, Woodbine, Wills, Cavanders, and even that big dark green one (can’t remember the name, my Taya used to smoke that). Yaar those were the days that helped me grow and I look back at that time as the best teacher of Civic matters. I learned more about social issues being part of the small gang than I could ever learn from any book ever written.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Oyeeeeeeeeeeeeee Ben-Tay,
                    yes, i did play ben-tay. I regret that i can not remember much deatils like you guys, left Pakistan 8 years old. You guys probably played it till you were 14. In your ranking i must have reached the beginners level.
                    But it sure brings back memories.
                    I wanna thank you for that!

                    Comment

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