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Koshur Music

An Introduction to Spoken Kashmiri



Haaran Gindun: To play with Haars

Tips of the game, Rules, Social reverence, New influences, Daughter’s gift
by Dalip Langoo

Literally Haar small molluskan seashell found in the sea means in Kashmiri the money or a playing object and a particular game in Kashmir. An old game that Kashmiri Pandits used to play on the eve of Maha Shivratri was full of calculations and entertainment till my childhood days. Haar (Kaudi in Hindustani) is used in this play as the main component and the participants can be from two up to any tolerable limit. There are rules and regulations, which are to be followed by the players very strictly, especially on the day of Salaam the next day after Shivratri pooja the players gather at one place as this was one of the finest indoor games known in Kashmir amongst Kashmiri Pandits. This is almost not in practice now, but still I remember how we used to play the game when we were in Srinagar. Full of fun and enthusiasm, elders, friends and all use to gather and play this game and the curiosity of wining the game was a thing of extreme compassion, love and entertainment. 

Description of the Game

  • Haar (The Playing object),
  • Chaakh is the measuring unit consists of four Haar’s,
  • Minimum of two Haars to start a game,
  • Kunyi (Combination of single Haar resulting the win),
  • Pushraan Dabu (To add a Haar on a particular number as decided), 
  • Juph Taaq (Even and Odd combinations: In this odd numbers were to be won and even means  to pass on the game to next the player adding a Haar to the rest of Haars on surface), 
  • Chaakan (Combination of Four results the win), 
  • Duchi (Combination of Two results the win),
  • Shartal means the betting,
  • Tichan means to strike with one Haar another one, usually children play in this way. These are the various ways of playing. 
    • Players sit in a circle or opposite to each other depending on the number of players.
    • Botul (Yellowish Haar with difference) or a Krend Haar (Broken Haar), Nich Haar (The Small Haar), Vyeth Haar (The Big Haar) are some other different shapes of Haar. Different Haars were used for toss purpose and these were collected and thrown on the floor. This was the way to select the player who plays it first.

Rules of the Game

  • All participants who know how to play should maintain the decorum of the game and have patience while playing it.
  • When agreed to play any particular type of the game, one should strictly follow the norms, didn’t mix the tactics of another form of the play (No cheating please). One can be disqualified on creating unnecessary discussions.
  • Whosoever should be capable of playing and posses the Haar in plenty so that one can play. To own the Haar is important because Haar is to be lost or won by a player. In our times we had created a new system of counting points and at the end all the players were given their Haars back by repurchase formula.
  • The duration of the game as in other games is never set but it can continue till agreed duration by the participants.
  • Each player should possess a Botul a Haar with a different look so that one can find it easily to which player it belongs, which will be used to decide the first member to start the game.
  • The Botul was also used as Joker in the cards. 
  • Plane surface to be used to make a throw of Haars on the floor.
  • A clean sheet of single color also was used to make counting of Haar’s visible.
  • If there are more than two people participating then a circle was to be formed and so on.
  • In case of two members they use to sit opposite to each other.
  • In case of many participants a bowl was used to collect the Haars.
  • The most competent person only used to count the Haars thrown on the floor.
  • Everything was decided in the beginning of the game as how and what to do by whom.
  • The job was divided amongst few experts who were assisted by the player and a person sitting by his or her side.
  • This game was strictly played on the eve of  Shivratri locally known as Herath and not on any other occasion.
Different Ways to play the Game
  • Kunyi: The game was played with the help of a Haar, which is the only source of the game. There should be four Haars compulsory to play it. In this game the Haars are taken in the hand and thrown on the surface. Kunyi means a single odd number, which confirms the win. If one doesn’t get this formation of numbers no one is declared the winner. Only if the single Haar is fallen on the surface upward down or vice versa the player is declared the winner. All the four or more Haars, which one throws on the surface, belong to that particular player. The game continues likewise till one accepts the defeat or one is short of Haars.
  • Pushraan Dabu: Pushrawun means to add. Even and odd number of the Haars is important in determining the play towards winning. In this type each member contributes one or more as decided to start the game. With all these the Haar’s thrown on the surface are calculated and if the even number of Haars are upwards down then one has to add to it one or as decided Haar and thus the game continues. If one gets three upwards down it is called to be Chhout meaning ‘no results’ so it was passed on to another player. Also if all the Haars fall in their normal or upward down position in both the cases it is Chhout meaning no results. In this too the game is passed on to the another player. In case of Chhout by Three Haars one doesn’t have to add anything but pass on to another player. In case of Chhout by another means one has to add a Haar or Haar’s as decided and pass on the game to next player sitting in a circle in clockwise direction. In case one gets odd one’s on the surface these are to be considered won by the particular player except three Haars. The game is carried on or if a single Haar is in opposite position upward down or vice-versa the whole lot of Haars are won.
  • Juph Taaq: (Even and Odd): This is similar to that of the above mentioned style but with little difference that is in this odd numbers were to be won and even means to pass on the game to next the player adding a Haar to the Haars on surface. In this there is no three Haars- no result concept, those combinations are to be won too. In this only if all the Haars fell in similar way then only Chout, no result is considered. 
  • Chaakan: (Combination of Four results the win) In this it is decided in the beginning of the game that only if combination of four fells on the surface all the Haars are considered to be won. In this the contribution of each individual is to be four Haars. 
  • Duchi: (The Combination of two decides the win) Similar as above but instead of four two determines the game. There can be any number as decided for the game.
  • Shartal: (Means the betting) In this two or more players bet and hide Haars in the hands the opponent has to tell if there is even or odd number of Haars which decides the game. 
  • Tichan: means to strike one Haar with another, usually children play in this way. Two Haars are taken for play each in each player’s hand. The Haars are kept on the plane surface and both strike the Haars one by one and if the Haars are touched the win is declared. At the end whosoever won the maximum number is the winner.
  • Hu Kus Bu Kus: In this Children first play a game with the rhyme which is sung and then hands put on the floor in a similar fashion are turned at the end of last word one by one at each time the rhyme is repeated. It is already decided in the beginning that whosoever will be the first to achieve it, will be given Haaru Chaakh, four Haars by each participant. In this main thrust is being given on the spiritual aspect and entertainment too as well.
The Haars were given to daughters on the eve of Herath/ Shivratri when they returned from their Maalyun father’s house. This game was well enjoyed and had a wide acceptance amongst Kashmiri Pundits. Like other aspects of life and philosophy this aspect of playing too was given due place in the society. The other games like Carom, Chess, Cards, and Ludo etc. challenged its existence and it gradually began to loose its players and today it is no more played anywhere in Kashmir or elsewhere. After exodus once I played it with my Bua ji (Poph) at New Delhi, who started to reveal her childhood days and tears appeared in her eyes that we have lost everything in Kashmir and similarly this Gindun the playing of the game of Haars too! We might have lost everything but not Buttill (Being a staunch Batta as locally a Pundit is called in Kashmir). If the game of Haaru gindun is lost today it can be revived too in its old and innovative way so that it is reborn again. 

I personally appeal to all concerned to support the cause of Kashmiriyat that is being crushed at each and every point. Whether it be politically, socially, economically or any other reason but this is the proper time for Kashmiris to collect all treasures and share them at the best of everybody’s interests. 


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