Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Lawn Darts

This is lawn darts, Bhutanese style. The sport enjoys the status of a national sport, but was beaten out by archery for the official title. Pictured here is a tournament which took place last weekend inside the city's Olympic stadium.

The Olympics have never been held here but some supporters of sports development programs hope to become competitive in the future and this facility was built to help promote such efforts. Back to darts. It's not called that here but I don't remember the actual name.

The players were dressed in fine, silk gho's along the lines of what would be worn for very formal occasions. Only this time they were playing in the dirt. The game is played something like this. There are two opposing teams. They both stand together at one end of the "range." The range is a strip of turf about 10 or 12 feet wide and I estimate about 35-40 yards long. It is surrounded by spectators and some would say cheerleaders.

Each member of the team has I believe 3 darts to throw. The teams alternate throwing, one dart for each player and the sequence repeats until all darts are thrown. At that point, everyone goes to the other end and does it again, this time in the other direction. The target is a quite small, rectangular piece of hard foam stood upright in the dirt.

Here's the interesting part. Each time a player throws his dart, two of his teammates are standing adjacent to the target at which he aims. They are presenting the target to him, helping him aim accurately and possibly recruiting the assistance of greater beings or the wind to guide the dart to success.

Look at the pictures and note the size of the darts. They are steel tipped, weighted with wood and are hurled full speed at the target. I couldn't help but think that this must be good for generating some practice in penetrating trauma injuries for the emergency on call ophthalmologist.

Now, when one player actually hits the target, which does happen occasionally, two to four members of his team break out in song and dance to celebrate the successful throw. It's hard to tell but these guys are indeed singing and dancing. Unfortunately, I have no idea what they were singing about.

This was one spectator, too cute to pass up.

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