Name in Original Language
Area Where Played
There is no historically authentic evidence for the origins of the game. According to most reviewers and analytical critics, the game originated from social conflicts related to marriage ceremonies in the past, which is based on the abduction of the bride by the groom’s relatives. Relatives from the groom’s side would try to abduct the bride forcefully, and people on the bride’s side would try to protect her. It is said that sometimes, this kind of violence would spread among two to three villages. People used various medium of folklore – Bouchhi, to reflect this social conflict, and the popular game in Bangladesh has evolved through this process.
The Game Bouchhi is very popular in Bangladesh. To some other local communities, Bouchhi may go by the name, Buri Chi and Chi-buri. Bouchhi is a name that consists of the terms, Bou and Chhi. Here, Bou Budi Ghughu means beautiful young bride and Chhi is simply a vocal sound with one long breath. Bouchhi is a rural courtyard game that is dominated by young girls. This game is mainly played by youths, usually seven to fourteen years old girls, but in some parts of the country, both boys and girls play the game. Bouchhi is a seasonal game played during the dry monsoon season, especially during Spring, Autumn and Winter. Only a plain grassy land is needed to play Bouchhi.
In Bouchhi, the key focus of the game is to vocalize the vocal sound Chhi, while holding a long breath, drawing attention to the game’s competitive nature. Basically, Bouchhi is a game that requires the individual skills of physical rhythm, breath holding, operational speed, techniques, and spontaneity. Team accord is also important in order to triumph in the game.
Selecting a group or team:
To play 'Bouchhi', participants assemble and apply tricky local humor, using leaves or fingers, to divide themselves into two teams. Then a toss decides which group is the bride’s team and which group is the groom’s team.
Deciding the game plan:
One long breath with the vocal sound 'Chhi…' is referred to as ‘one unit of breath’; and a total number of 10 to 12 breath unit is considered as ‘one breath circle’ for one team. Both teams decide how many breath circles, usually at least 5 to 7, to play in order to win the game. The groom’s team is allowed to snatch the bride back to groom’s court, as many times as they can within one breath circle. Both teams change their sides after one breath circle, and therefore, the groom’s team becomes the bride’s team in the next breath circle. Following this rotational process, only the groom’s team can lead the game to earn points by snatching the bride. Finally, the team who can snatch the bride more times within the decided number of breath circles wins the game.
The groom’s team takes position inside the big circle while the bride’s team takes position around the small court. A player from the groom’s team is selected to take position inside the small court to symbolize the bride in her father’s house.
A member of the groom’s team is selected as the snatcher, to move out of the court and snatch the bride back to their own court. The snatcher starts moving towards the bride’s house, while vocalizing the sound 'Chhi…' in a long breath, in order to snatch the bride while ensuring that the bride is not tagged by the member of bride’s team.
Valid movements for a chaser/snatcher and the protectors:
- While attempting to snatch the bride, the snatcher is allowed to stay outside of the groom’s court as long as he/she keeps holding his/her breath while vocalizing the sound 'Chhi…'
- To create a clear and safe runway for bringing the bride back to the groom’s court, the snatcher is allowed to move around the channel line (see court image), but cannot cross over the line.
- To clear a secured runway while snatching the bride, the snatcher can chase the protectors and make them ‘dead’ (removed from the game) by tagging as many of them as he/she can.
- When the snatcher loses his/her breathe while vocalizing the sound 'Chhi…,’ he/she is allowed to either run back directly to the groom’s court while avoiding being tagged by members of the bride’s team, or take a very short break inside the bride’s court to regain his/her breath, then go back to their own court. During this time, snatcher is not allowed to chase their opponent.
- The key task of the protectors is to protect the bride and keep a strong barrier against the snatcher, who wants to take the bride back to the groom’s court.
- During the defense, protectors must maintain a safe and strategic distance away from the chaser to avoid being tagged.
- On the way back to the groom’s house, if the snatcher loses his/her breath, the protectors are allowed to tag him/her and remove them from the game, until the next breath circle begins.
- During the move to snatch the bride, if any protectors/members of the bride’s team are tagged by the chaser/snatcher, he/she is considered a ‘dead’ or inactive player. He/she remains inactive until the next breath circle begins.
- During the move to chase or snatch, if snatcher loses his/her breathe while vocalizing the sound 'Chhi...'and is tagged by the protectors/members on the bride’s team, the snatcher is considered a ‘dead’ or inactive player until the next breath circle begins.
- During the move to snatch, if a snatcher makes the mistake of crossing over the channel line, the snatcher is referred to as a ‘dead’ or inactive player until the next breath circle begins.