A study of contrasting faces, but both having the same thought “will my number win?”
This is one of the scenes that is witnessed at the Archery arena of Shillong, where you can bet on any number between 0 to 99 and if your number wins you get eighty times your investment. A rustic way of betting and probably the only one in the world where the archery skills are put to test with a twist. The winning number is picked up from the last two digits of the number of arrows that hits the target. When we were there the count of arrows were 684, so the winning number was 84.
If you are early you get to see the preparations before shooting. Some final betting is done at the last minute at the counters which is in proximity with the shooting arena.
Snacks and cigarettes are available for the tense betters.
Some tourist like to pose with the archers for a picture to be sent back home, while others take pictures.
Before the event the archers count their arrows and make sure all are in shape.
The stringing of the bow is done with a gentle push at the middle part with the knee.
Fifty archers sit in a semi circle (approximately 60 deg) and shoot at the target sitting down. Come to think of it, I did not see anyone standing and shooting, there should be some reason for it.
The target is cylindrical in shape (made of bamboo reeds) and is placed at its designated place
As the shooting progresses you can see the number of arrows increasing on the target.
The archers are from different clubs and the arrows are colour coded accordingly. There is no incentive for the individual archer, but the club that scores the maximum stands a better chance of being called the next time. The individual archers have a fixed salary.
Before counting begins, the arrows on the ground are cleared away. Arrows resting on other arrows are counted. They are counted and counter checked by a panel of five people
The counted arrows are stacked in a counting grid with slots of 10 so that its open for anyone to check.
As the counting is in process, you can see the locals and the tourists anxiously waiting for the result.
The result is immediately put up for all to see and perhaps to be relayed to other parts of the city where spot bookings are taken before the start of the event.
I have made a short video on what I saw and it will give you a fairly good idea of the complete event.
I found this little boy helping around in the arena and at the end of the day he was more than willing to pose for me as he collected all the arrows for the next round.
There is one school of thought saying that this is gambling and should be stopped, but so is investing in stock market.