Sitoliya: A game that Lord Krishna played

Sitoliya: A game that Lord Krishna played

 Alternatively called as the Seven Stones, 'Sitoliya' is our next entry in the series of traditional rural games of Rajasthan 

 
Desi Games of Rajasthan Sitoliya

A game quite popular in rural India and called with different names in different states (like Pithoo, Lagori among others) is none other than Sitoliya as we know it in Rajasthan. However, the game so dear to the rural India is now losing its sheen.

Earlier, the kids in both rural areas and urban street corners of Rajasthan played this game with interest but now it is only restricted to Makar Sakranti/January 14th every year and our parents, grandparents, great grandparents or may be earlier generations can vouch for this. In fact, if not in whole of Rajasthan but at least in our Udaipur city, this game was very popular but now not anymore.

So, today, let’s rediscover Sitoliya and learn how to play it along with the rules.  

Sitoliya it is!

Do you know that Sitoliya is not only a traditional but one of the most ancient games of India which originated in our country and find its mention in the Bhagwata Purana, a Hindu religious text that is claimed to be written 5000 years ago? Sounds unbelievable? Well, it is a reality. This scripture mentions that Lord Krishna used to play this game with his friends. After that, generations after generations of mankind played this game. In fact, it was a popular rural outdoor game in India as well as Pakistan in the 1990s.

Sitoliya is somewhat similar to Dodgeball but has extra features and is more aggressive than that. Like all the other traditional games that we discussed so far, this too is an inexpensive game that needs only a tennis or rubber ball (not too hard) and seven small flat stones stacked one over the other in an ascending order with smallest on top, in the centre of a small circle.

The best part about this game is that it can be enjoyed by people of all age groups and particularly your child can benefit a lot from this game. It can improve their stamina, concentration and aiming skills. It can also instil team building spirit among the players.

Going step by step

  1. The players form two teams (of equal number) i.e., seekers and hitters. Each team should have minimum 2-3 players. More the number of players (maximum 9 players) in each team, the better it is in terms of fun.
  2. Seven flat stones are piled up at the centre of the ground in a circle and the two teams stand on either side of the circle.
  3. A coin is tossed to select which team takes the attacking role first and becomes the seekers team. Then the defending team or hitters team members take position. One member stands behind the stones on the other side and others stand randomly as fielders stand in cricket. The players of the attacking team take position behind a crease line in an appropriate distance from the pile of stones.
  4. Every seekers team member gets 3 chances to hit the pile of stones and if he/she fails, then the next player gets the chance. If all the seekers team members are unable to so, then the hitters and seekers team interchange positions and the game is continued.
  5. The fun begins when the ball hits the pile of stones. Then the hitters catch hold of the ball and try to hit any of the seekers while they try to collect the scattered stones and pile them up again and shout the game name ‘Sitoliya’ to declare their victory before being hit by the ball in their leg below the knees and declared ‘out’. If the seekers team succeed, then their team members get another chance to throw the ball again. Winner is the team that scores seven points first.

Points to be noted

  • If the hitters’ team player catches the ball in one tip and pile of stones is not disturbed, then the player is out and the next player comes in.
  • Any player of the hitters’ team can keep the ball in their hands for only about 50 seconds. Then, he/she has to pass the ball to other members of his team. However, players with the ball can dodge.
  • The best strategy is that you should attempt to hit the pile of stones lightly i.e., just the top 2-3 stones knocked relatively close by, so that you can pile them up again easily.

Trivia

You will be surprised to know that some organisations in India are trying their best to make the game popular again and organise Sitoliya tournaments. In this line, the Indian Lagori Premier League was organised in 2017 by the Amateur Lagori Federation of India and even plans are to organise Sitoliya World Cup as the game is played by at least 30 nations across the world.

To conclude

So, a game which the world with India being at the top is trying to revive, can’t ‘we’ Rajasthanis whose traditional game is Sitoliya stand to revive it and introduce it to our kids? Why stick to only Makar Sakranti, when we can play this game whole year? So are you ready to shout out ‘Sitoliya’ this weekend?

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