A martial arts festival that keep a tradition alive and profitable for practitioners: Tournaments conducted by the Khasi Hills Archery Sports Association – Meghalaya

In hilly Shillong, dream-interpreting locals and tribal archers combine to practise ‘Teer’ gambling | To view more photos and read the full story, click here >>

The capital of Meghalaya likes to bet big and it’s not on cricket, horse-racing or teen patti

The Khasi people of Meghalaya resisted British rule for a long time and although they did not bring a sword to a gun fight, what they did bring were all forms of bow and arrows. Several warrior tribes defended their homeland, especially the region based around the Surma river and its tributaries with their lives, raining down arrows on any who may have tried snatching them.

Before long however, the need for continuous employment for their warriors crept in and that got the local administrators thinking. This gave rise to festivals where archers would compete with each other in tournaments to keep themselves in shape for any exigency. […]

Shillong, as headquarters of the unified Assam region and later the capital of Meghalaya, had banned teer till 1981. Police crackdowns were frequent as was fixing – the local dons who ran the racket were known to fix results, swindling unsuspecting commoners of their hard-earned money.

Modern-day Shillong has a lot of small odd shops, which sell tickets or slips for the game. It is almost impossible for a visitor to miss these as they are scattered across the city and the state. The Khasi Hills Bookie Welfare Association estimates that there are up to 1500 counters in Shillong alone and almost 5000 across the state. […]

Phillip Khongsngi, president of the Khasi Hills Archery Sports Association which is primarily responsible for the fair conduct of the sport spoke about the practice’s modern origins,“In the 70’s, it was illegal and the local don from Mawlai would rig it. The police tried their best to stamp this out but soon, they and the government realised that there is more potential in regulating the sport.” […]

Every day, two clubs are chosen to contribute 10 archers each along with the association’s 30 archers. […]

One thing is for sure and is agreed upon by all stakeholders: This sport continues to provide employment to the dwindling archer community.

Source: “In hilly Shillong, dream-interpreting locals and tribal archers combine to practise ‘Teer’ gambling” by Arka Bhattacharya, scroll.in, 10 February 2017 
Address: https://thefield.scroll.in/829024/in-hilly-shillong-dream-interpreting-locals-and-tribal-archers-combine-to-practise-teer-gambling
Date Visited: 14 January 2022

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