Gilli Danda is a game that has originated from the Indian subcontinent and is played using two sticks: a long and the other short. Apart from rural areas and small towns across South Asia, it also features in nations like Cambodia, South Africa, Turkey, Italy Poland, and in some Caribbean islands like Cuba. The large stick is called the danda, while the smaller oval-shaped stick is the gilli. The origins may go back as far as 2500 years ago. It also shows strong similarities with ball games like baseball and cricket. The purpose of the game is to hit the smaller stick using the larger one. The game of gilli danda has specific rules, which also includes the way the sticks are prepared. What makes the sport so interesting, is the number of participants in each game. It starts with four players, but the total can be up to a hundred, provided the number is always even. There are several variations of the game with up to 15 nations playing their own style of the amateur sport.
To start a game, the gilli is first balanced on a small stone placed within a circle so that one end is in the air and the other touches the ground. The striker also stands within the circle and using the danda, hits the raised end of the gilli flipping it into the air. The airborne gilli is then stuck again with the danda, and the purpose is to hit it as far as possible. The striker must then run to a pre-agreed point outside of the circle before an opponent retrieves the gilli. Should the fielder manage to catch the gilli, then the striker is out. In addition, the striker can also be out if the fielder, standing closest to where the gilli lands, throws and manages to hit the danda. The danda must be placed on top of the circle. This is very similar to a run-out in cricket. Should the attempted throw miss the target, the striker gets a point and another chance to strike the gilli again. Should the striker fail to hit the gilli, then he or she is out. This is very similar to a strikeout in baseball. The team or individual with the most points win the game.
The Gilli Danda International Federation is the highest recognised authority for the amateur sport. Despite the other variations going by different names based on the nation it is played in, the federation carries the vision to maintain the heritage of a traditional sport of India. Currently there are twelve members with representation in Asia, Europe, Africa and South America. The goal is to continue to create awareness worldwide and to grow the sport.