Datlawakor: FEEL ITS WORTH

Written by Meghalaya Times. Posted in Writers Column

Fleming Laloo
Some years ago an article on the “Datlawakor” was published in a certain Khasi Daily. Therein certain datlawakoring terms were coined (read carved) out from it name — one can has as many as two to… or a few more terms to add, besides the game’s original and simple presentation — for their applicability and use in playing of this indigenous game traditionally and annually held on the conclusion day of the Jwais’ Beh Dienkhlam. Again, now as addendum to the earlier one this presents a view, albeit not religious on which the ‘Chnonk’ (i.e. the other name from the follower of Niamtre) of Seinraij Jowai, Seinraij Shillong and Sienraij Ummulong might also wont for this game been also a socio -cultural heritage rather of Raij Jowai, to showcase its potential to further tourism in Jowai region on one hand and, perhaps, to opportune it moves beyond of localizing. These aspect have till now had not came to the fore, let alone tapped. Indeed the game was started not for such purposes. Yet, it also seemed like kind of secular if not human expression of their contentment and happiness, following the end of their festival activities: a recreation charged with ones cheerful heart and mind and, with ones playful body and soul that has got hope of ‘mother nature’s blessing’ to have good harvest of foodgrains in the paddy fields during the year.

In playing the game appears to have a few unnoticeably rigid as well as flexible elements, which can also draw people’s curiosities and the desire to themselves experience the same. For example, the upper Myntdu valley (i.e. Pynthornein) on the north east was pierced through naturally by the river Myntdu and splitted it into two parts, running straight from its uppermost region on the north-east to downward on the south. Likewise, after following farther down in a circular pathway that encircled the inner jowai plateau, this river again pierced naturally through the lower Myntdu Valley ( i.e pynthorwah) on the north-west and was also splitted into two parts, running straight from it up course on the south to downward on the north-west and, further down it turned towards the east and back to the south of Jowai plateau. ( two small valleys called ‘pynthor chahtngit’ and ‘Pynthor Treyongriang’existed in between these two big valleys but are getting redundant, especially the former with recent development ‘marching’ faster and closer towards the river bank on east of the Chahtngit. That apprehensive faith was foreseen long back when in 1980, a student body called T.C.C.S.O within then Tympang Club Locality was formed. One of it goals was for drawing of other’s attention of the need for constructing of two big but higher level drains on both sides of the bank of river Myntdu).
Despite these natural divisions there had never existed and divisional name like, says, Pynthornein mihsngi (i.e. East Pynthornein) and Pynthornein Sepngi ( i.e. west Pynthornein), etc. or Pynthorwah Mihsngi (i.e. east Pynthorwah) and Pynthorwah Sepngi (i.e. west Pynthorwah), etc when they played the game  of Datlawakor on the conclusion  day of Jowai Behdiengkhlam. Faith, tradition and practiced till to date bonded them as one pynthornein and one pynthorwah ‘teams’ only admist the people of this place. That’s how the Datlawakor rigidly enriched such a status for these two valleys. Yet it is practicable to have distinct names and teams in playing of this game if that is phased not as part of the Behdiengkhlam Festival. Whereas the size of the play ‘site’ was never specifically fixed than it will alterably vary, depending on either team’s players being able to move and pass the wooden ball faster and farther distantly away from the other team’s players reach.
This fast winning coverage technically shortens the stretch of the play ‘site’ when the other teams players failed to pursue the winning team. Or the play ‘site’will practically cover long stretch if and when both the teams are neck to neck tackling themselves for seizing passing the ball on their direction, before either team is able to move and pass the ball faster and farther distantly away from the other team’s players. This equilibrium if maintained or otherwise between the two teams can stretch to either lengthen or shorten the coverage of their play and so the play ‘site’ before winning a lone goal. Yet, this does not mean that the size of the play ‘site’ and duration of the match cannot be decided and fixed if they wanted it so, except on their playing the game   on last day of Behdienkhlam festival.
What it seen there reminds the writer of an occasion when, in mid-1990s he conducted a game for the pupils/students of certain school at Tuberkmaichnong village. It was initially intended trial game but, later, with a desired to also find place for our indigenous game ‘terms’ got  it admixed. In the first instant the male students were invited to play the game but, with a …they outrightly turn it down. Perhaps they saw it appears unappealing or odd, despite it has got blended with some features from our traditional ones. While the boys were neither forced nor requested to play this game, subsequently the female student were asked if they are interested to play it, and prompt reply was their respond. The boys then immediately came forward and expressed their eagerness to play this game. If such an ordinary game could evinced some interest then, how much that would be for a distinct and unique game of the Datlawakor can has but a wide appeal, acceptance and a promising future.
It is expedient for the founder Sienraj, a socio-culture and welfare organization of the Niamtre as the main in charge that have taken care of the Datlawakor, to devise an open it to innovate and achieve such secured features for this game. Ample scopes are not far and away if ones is accommodating and creative, too. Say for an instant, an arcade or podium is raised—one each at Pynthornein and Pynthorwah whose respective and compact entity had not only closely interwove with the socio-cultural and religious and economic life of Jwai people since long gone eras to the present day but, happened also to be the core and inalienable constituents as based teams in the very existence and survival of the Datlawakor— and laid on the site invisible to vehicular travelers across the river Myntdu along with two supporting  posts for each perch on the both sides (i.e. symbolizing the oneness of each team respectively called the Pynthornein and the Pynthorwah), of the river and, thereon each stylobate   display such components of the game.
Features like (a) the play ‘site’ in a stretch of the road with it inward bends on the north side and a bit stretchy on the south side (b) the wooden ball pitched in an hole at the play site (c) two sapjat i.e. the puttee as worn on the legs, but design after the Jaintia women traditional dress cloths like the Ryndiastem, Thohkhyrwang, Thohsaru,etc (d) two metaphoprical semblances that personified the Pynthornein and the Pynthorwah as these were represented in the match in the office of, say, U Songot and U Lyngdoh (i.e. the Lyngdoh of Raij Jowai belonged to an exceptional category of the Lyngdoh/Lyngdoh Clan found in the entire Jaintia Hills and Khasi Hills for it owed its Clan’s name, not due to their office but, directly from it ancestress named  Ka Doh, the youngest of the four legendary sisters—Ka Bon of the Pasubon Clan, Ka Tein of the Pakyntein Clan, Ka Wet of the Paswet Clan and Ka Doh of the Langdoh Jwai Clan—in the history of Jowai) of Elaka Jowai as the two inalienable teams and (e) not the least to add the game’s terms, if any form its earlier form as well as create new Datlawkoring terms if necessary may also serves.
The Seinraijs or any tourism-inclined NGOs like the JTES, Jowai or professionally inclined individuals may, perhaps find printing of such designing works in post card form for sale in markets, shops,etc can go towards publishing of the same. All these can hopefully contributes and enthuse one and all; the visitors especially the tourist to be aware of the game of Datlawakor and has their fast-hand information and knowledge of it. The scene project host offers and the guest carries that back home, so that the Datlawakor lives and grow. Needless to say, the above instant is mere ordinary example. Many others especially from amongst the Niamtre must be having more advance and better ideas.
Having presented that and it future moulds, however the original feature of the plain and simple Datlawakor will remain intact. This of course on the conclusion day of the Jowai Behdienkhlam on every year. Without undermining this root and foundation of the game together with it compositions, the other phase spawn from it entity and with its thriving tradition would have a prong that is able to accept and acquire and adjust, and enrich itself. This blends the old with the new, and gets mobile from its localizing to reach the next higher soar or even beyond. Shan’t these come to pass (?) a quest in the realm of ones thought. Thus a point to ponder, a step to climb, a road to reach and win. A goal only. Yes, a wonderful lone goal astuanate (i.e. fitly equivalent to), the one I saw it is not impossible to play Datlawakor and carry the “Lawakor” logical for a minute or two only or and our or even more to end a match.


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