Gillidanda, a.k.a. tip-cat, is an outdoors game played usually in two teams. You need two sticks. The large one called a danda (cat) and the
small one a gilli (tip).
An acient sport with origins over 2500 years back, gillidanda originated from the Indian subcontinent and has been played in several parts of the world including Southern Asia, Europe, and
Latin America. Gillidanda is considered possibly as being the ancestor of some modern sports such as baseball, cricket and golf. An India-based international federation of gillidanda has member states such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran, Brazil, South Africa and Italy. In accordance with
broad geographical extension, there are many variations in gameplay and rules. The main structure is maintained though: gilli is placed on the ground and danda is used to strike gilli as far as
possible. Below is a description of the game with reference to some common variations.
What you need for gillidanda is a wide field, a gilli and a danda, and at least two players. Although usually a team game, it can also be played individually. There is no maximum number of
players and no standard length of gilli and danda. Usually though, gilli is 10-20 cm and danda is four-five times longer (40-80 cm).
Two teams are formed. One strikes and the other catches. At one side of the field a base for hitting the gilli is marked and gilli is placed on the base. The gilli will thus be struck towards
the other side of the field. (There are various ways how the gilli is placed in its initial position and hit by the danda, which is described below in detail.) A player (striker, batter) from the
first team comes to the base with his dalda. Teammates get behind the striker. The other team (or all other players, if played individually) (fielders) moves to the opposite side of the field
where they can catch the struck gilli.
The striker, using the danda, lifts the gilli up and hits it at a distance while it is still in the air. Then puts the danda down on the base. If a fielder catches the gilli before it lands,
the teams change roles. If fielder cannot catch the gilli before it lands on the ground, the fielder closest to the gilli has one chance to take and throw gilli towards the base to hit the danda.
If successful, again teams change roles. If the fielder is not successful, ditance from the landing point to the base is measured, usually with the danda, and the striker team gets points
accordingly, and teams change roles. When roles changed, teams also change places on the field and the game continues with a new striker. The game comes to an end when one of the teams reaches a
pre-agreed score and declared as winner.
Placement and strike (variations)
There are several variations as to how gilli is placed on the base and struck by the danda.
If played on a soil ground, a small hole is dug and gilli is placed horizontally at the mouth of the hole such that it can be hit from below by the danda to lift it in air. Once gilli is
moved upwards, the striker hits it while it is in the air. In a simpler version, gilli on the hole can be directly hit away by danda, as if a golf ball.
Two big stones side by side, and gilli is placed on them to bridge the gap between. Again, gilli is hit with the danda away, either by first lifteing it up in the air or directly from its
This variation requires the gilli being tapered or sharpened on both ends. Placing the gilli directly on the ground, the striker hits the gilli at one of its end from above, thus flipping it
into air. Gilli in the air is then hit by danda as far as possible.
In still another manner, the striker stands on the base and balances the gilli perpendicular to danda at the point where the danda meets the grasping hand, or alternatively on a notch made
close to the tip of the danda. Striker then swings danda to lift the gilli up and then bam!
Scoring and elimination (variations)
It is definitely possible to play gillidanda without keeping score, just for fun. But when it comes to scoring and winning, rules also vary from region to region. In the most common version,
scoring is made according to distance measured in terms of danda. Striker team then gets that many points.
According to a more playful scoring method, measuring is made by hops, jumps, or strides. Before measuring the distance, the striker (team) offers their opponent a certain number of points
and challenges them to take the distance in that many strides. If a player from the opponent team can take the distance in offered number of strides, then they score the points. Otherwise,
striker team gets the points.
There are also varying rules regarding eliminations. What if, for example, a striker fails to lift or hit the gilli after a certain of attempts; or a fielder hits the danda on the base by
throwing the gilli back? Some variations are rather tough with these situations. In these cases, the turn ends for the striker team, and according to some versions, even the striker player is out
of game. When played with elimination, the surviving team or the last player to stand is the winner.
Calvino's Making Do
On a final note, we want to make you aware of a beautiful short story by Italo Calvino where gillidanda is central: Making Do. You can read the story at passages in our library.
...and a song
Named after the Turkish version of the game, this beautiful song by Gevende vividly portrays the spirit of the game.