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By Andre Kongri
It is not every day that we get sound sleep. Sometimes, dreams reflect that when our brains become overly creative in processing the most non-sensical information, only to wake us up confused next morning.
Now imagine you are dreaming about bathing in the open for absolutely no reason whatsoever. While it may sound silly to think about it, some people indeed make a fortune based on such dreams through the Khasi traditional sport of Thoh Tim or archery betting.
What is Thoh Tim?
Thoh Tim or Teer is a sport in Meghalaya which is an amalgamation of archery and betting. It is a legalised form of betting, governed by the Meghalaya Amusement and Betting Tax (Amendment) Act, 1982.
Historically, the game involved archers from different traditional clubs who would gather at a shooting range to test their skills to see who would shoot the maximum number of arrows on target. But gradually, the popularity of the game was seen as a good source of revenue by the state government.
Often while walking across the city of Shillong, one can notice many counters set up where small boards are put up with numbers on them.
These are the counters where people place their bets. There are over 5,000 such licensed counters across Meghalaya districts, which employs more than 11,000 people.
How Does the Game Function?
The game is organised by the Khasi Hills Archery Sports Association and archers from 12 different designated clubs gather at a shooting range, located in Shillong’s Polo Grounds.
Two rounds of archery take place, once at 3:30 pm and once at 4:30 pm.
Fifty archers shoot 30 arrows each in the first round, and each archer shoots 20 arrows in the second round.
The betting result depends on the number of arrows that hit the target. The person who predicts the last two digits of the total number of arrows that hit the target, wins the pot.
For example, if 873 arrows hit the target, then 73 is the winning number.
One can bet on numbers from 0 to 99 to take part in the game. The counters sell betting tickets from 10:00 am to 3:30 pm every day.
Bets as low as Re. 1, could be placed and for the first round the winner can earn Rs. 80. For the second round, the winner can earn up to Rs. 60. However, if one can predict numbers correctly for both rounds, for every Re. 1 of investment, Rs. 4,000 could be won.
Two results are announced every day for the two rounds, which are displayed on the betting counters and are also uploaded online at Shillong Teer.
Apart from Shillong Teer, there is also Khanapara Teer and Juwai Teer, where this betting extravaganza takes place daily.
The Significance of Dreams
Dreams play an important part in people’s predictions of the results. In fact a majority of people place bets solely based on dreams. People come up with different ways of interpreting dreams into numbers, which are officially used for betting.
For example, an erotic dream symbolises the number 17, money symbolises 14, a lake symbolises the number 6 and so forth.
Find the numbers corresponding to dreams here. You'll be surprised at the variety of possibilities.
Who Makes the Money?
To find out more about this unique game TNT-The Northeast Today spoke to a few employees working at different Teer Counters across the city.
“I have been working at this Teer Counter for 15 years. It is not as profitable to us as it is for the owner, and I get around Rs. 320 per day. But as far as I know, the owner makes a huge amount of money. I can figure that out from the kind of bets we get every day,” said Laksmi Chettri.
Another Teer counter worker, Aisha Chettri said, “We are just workers who get paid daily wages, so the owners enjoy most of the profits. Even if we sell, don’t sell, or sell fewer tickets than usual, we get paid all the same except for Sundays.”
“If someone gets a forecast for a huge amount, they tip us like Rs. 500 or Rs. 1,000. Whatever we get as tips or good luck from the customers who got a forecast right is the only profit we get. If we lease the book to someone else, we might take a 15 per cent commission but as we are working under an owner, we cannot do that,” she said.
There is no age limit for placing a bet. Often, employees at the archery counter themselves prohibit minors from taking part due to the addictive nature of betting.
“We allow anyone above the age of 15 or above to bet. Mostly the people above the age of 40 come and bet. We normally get about 40 to 50 customers every day. Sometimes on a good day, over 70 people come in,” Aisha added.
While TNT-The Northeast Today did not get access to the archery grounds, but according to sources, archers make about Rs. 300 a day.
The Darker Side
Teer has a darker side to it as well. Like any form of gambling, it becomes badly addictive when one starts to lose more than they earn.
Psychiatrists cite that the effects gambling has on a person is similar to the effect of alcohol.
Many gamblers, due to the low investment required, come from weak economic backgrounds. Often, they end up investing a relevantly significant sum in the hopes of quick profits. Due to the nature of the sport, such profits are never guaranteed.
In the past, issues such as domestic violence, debt burdens and even petty crime, have cropped up due to people becoming significantly addicted to the game.
(Edited by Anirban Paul)