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‘Dive & Duck’ – not Cricket, but Duck Catching Competition, a heritage sport of Bengal

14 August, 2020 01:09:50
 ‘Dive & Duck’ – not Cricket, but Duck Catching Competition, a heritage sport of Bengal

A simple, rather innocuous announcement published in the social media recently caught the attention of netizens. There was a visual of a duck with the announcement written on top -- ‘Duck Catching Competition.’ People were curious to know about the unique sport event while many others dismissed this message as some kind of hoax and others found it rather amusing. This was something new indeed for city-bred people.

But if you get aboard a time capsule and go back in time to a couple of decades when smart phones or internet were just figments of imagination, different forms of outdoor sports were the only means of entertainment. In large cities and towns where playing area was confined, children devised games like badminton, cricket, football etc which could be played in the safe pockets of lanes and by-lanes where intervention by passing vehicular traffic was minimum. In the rural areas, where there was no dearth of space, unique outdoor sports used to be devised for fun and  catching hen or duck was a very common game played by youngsters. But now, thanks to advent in technology, a large number of outdoor sports events are on the verge of extinction.

Catching a duck is a very entertaining sporting event and used to be very popular game in rural Bengal.  A duck is released in a pond. A referee is in charge of the game who blows his whistle to signal the participants to dive and race to capture the duck. Apparently, this sounds very easy but those who have participated in the sport know how difficult it is to grab the elusive duck. Moreover, if the duck leaves the pond and lands on the bank, participants are barred from catching it. Despite all odds, the participant who manages to catch the booty, gets it as his prize. Nowadays, money is given as prize.

In the past, such events used to be held regularly in different parts of Bengal but now the number has dwindled to a few and far between. These days, most ponds are used for fish farming and owners disapprove of the muddy ripples created during the competition that can be detrimental to pisciculture. So, such indigenous games are being replaced by limited over cricket matches or football. Besides, most kids these days are hooked to their smart phones and are not interested in outdoor team games. Gradually, most of our heritage games are losing ground in the fray of modern-day sports.

Story Tag:
  • Rural Bengal, Sports

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