Where gambling is the stuff of dreams!

February 15th, 2011 - 1:28 pm ICT by IANS  

By R.R. Kharmujai
Shillong, Feb 15 (IANS) Come over to Bara Bazaar on any lazy afternoon and you’ll stumble upon many people dozing off at some quiet uninviting corner. The idea is not to take rest, but to dream and then interpret those dreams to place bets!Welcome to the game of ‘Teer’, where people bet on archery, guided by some divine interpretation of dreams. So these people, like thousands of others in Meghalaya, force dreams on themselves by going into deep slumber, interpret them in a numerical form and place bets on archery competitions.

“There is this porter, Baban Adhikari, who walks daily to Mahadev Khola early in the morning from Bara Bazaar (a distance of five km) and sits there near the stream till 10 a.m. to interpret his dream and bet on Teer,” Purna Bahadur Chetri, a potter, told IANS.

You can sure call them day-dreamers.

On any given day, money worth tens of millions is gambled on Teer. “On an average, a person bets anything between Rs.100 and Rs.500 on a daily basis. A few even gamble in hundreds of thousands,” said Deepak Joshi, a Teer bookie.

Archery takes place in the polo grounds here and the betting goes on in various parts of the city. The winners reap handsome profits. A rupee bet can fetch a good Rs.80.

This pursuit of money is no idle activity as the Meghalaya government has been collecting Rs.10 million as tax on betting for the last three years.

Moreover, the government on an average makes Rs.2.6 million per year for issuing Teer licences. There are over 1,500 Teer licensees in Meghalaya.

The manner in which dreams are interpreted is unique here in the hills. They are linked to the local dialect and the shape of objects seen in the dreams!

For example, a dream about a ‘kulai’ - which means horse in khasi dialect - is translated into number three. The reason being that ‘lai’, which rhymes with ‘kulai’, is number three in khasi numerology.

If a person is seen in dreams, the magic number is six. The interpretation here is a bit complicated. ‘Briew’ means people and it rhymes with ‘hynriew’, which is six in khasi numerology; hence the interpretation.

They also interpret shapes, like eggs are zero, for obvious reasons, umbrella is seven due to the shape of its handle, pistol is six due to the shape of the trigger, a fat lady is 88 - now let’s leave this one for the people’s imagination. A dead man is nine.

Do people dream in colour or black and white?

” ‘Red’ means saw in khasi dialect. It also means four in khasi numerology and once you dream the colour, you know what number to bet on,” winks S. Nonkynrih, a gambler.

Tikaram Chetri, another potter, who gave up his gambling habit, says there are many addicted to this form of gambling. He knows of some colleagues who passionately sleep during the afternoon to dream up the magic numbers.

(R.R. Kharmujai can be contacted at rrkharmujai@gmail.com)

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