By Amjid Ali
With the advent of the internet, increasing smart devices and surge in audio-visual games, traditional Balochi games are nearing extinction with every passing day. The traditional games, like Choki, Gabdi, Nogadagi, and Cheerbohi have been replaced with electronic games on smart devices.
These games used to be a leisure activity and were a way of socialization in Balochi society. Children, youths, middle aged men and seniors had their own games to sit together and wear off the day’s tiredness by healthy socialization in Makran and Turbat regions.
Nogadagi was the game of middle-aged men and senior citizens. It is a test of intelligence and strategic planning. It requires 9 stones to play and resembles Shatranj or the game of Chess.
Choki used to be another famous game in Turban and Makran and was loved by teenagers and youth. It resembles Ludo and played with four Choks, made of bisected pieces of wood. Once a popular pastime, now it is only played in the far-flung areas where there is no electricity, internet or television network.
Gabdi, a very energetic Balochi local game, played with one foot, is also at the risk of extinction. It used to be played by both boys and girls. A very healthy and enjoyable game, Gabdi is fast heading towards an end and today youth knows little about it.
Cherbohi, a form of hide and seek, used to be the most popular game among young children. This game is still played in some parts of Makran and distant villages of Turbat but locals fear that it won’t survive another twenty years.
Talking to Pak Voices Sheran Roshan, a retired Army officer from Oman and a resident of Turbat district said, “Until these traditional Balochi games existed, we had a liberal and healthy society in entire Makran region, where every individual of the society was loved and respected. As soon as these games declined, our society became intolerant and people got confined to their homes.”
The youth is getting addicted to games in smart devices like smartphones and tablet computers. Which are not only isolating individuals from society but also cause many psychological abnormalities due to lack of healthy socialization.
The traditional games have never been promoted by local, provincial or central governments. It would have been different if these games were recognized and promoted as our traditional heritage games.
Yousuf Haibathan, a farmer aged 60, talking to Pak Voices, said, “When I was small I would play Gabdi with other children of my village. When I grew up I used to play Choki. When I turned 40 plus I started playing Nogadagi along with my other friends and relatives. By playing such kind of games, we not only shared a friendly bond but also had a healthy society.”
He added, “Whereas children of today are not healthy because they tend to sit most of their precious time in front of the TV and smartphones. They have simply stopped playing healthy games.”
Many local people have demanded that these games be promoted and encouraged at schools and colleges. Competitions and contests at the Tehsil and district levels can bring these games back into society and engage the youth in healthy activities