Dhopkhel is a famous traditional game of Assam
held during the spring festival called Bihu. This seasonal game is played by both men and women. Players of this game require speed, stamina and acrobatic skills. A rubber ball called dhop is used to play this game. There will be two teams having 11 players each and the game is played in an open field 125 m long and 80 m wide. Flags known as chukor nishan are planted on the playground.
The game starts when a player throws the dhop (ball) in the air. He has to throw it again if the ball does not fall in the other team’s court. The opponent team tries to catch the ball. The dhop has to be caught by the opposing team, and if they fail, then the other team takes the throw. If a player catches the ball, he has to throw it to the katoni, a player who stands at the opposite end of the court. The team loses the chance of a throw at the katoni if the thrower fails. Then the opposing team gets a chance to throw the dhop. When the katoni is hit below the waist, it is considered a
kota, and the katoni becomes a hoia or a bondha, and loses his status of a ghai - a name initially used for all the players. The bondha goes over to the opposing side and tries to prevent the players of the team from catching the dhop. If a bondha catches the dhop in the opponents' court and succeeds in crossing over to his original side without being touched by any of the opponents, he becomes a ghai. When a team loses ten ghais as hoia or bondha, then the last ghai will be named ghai katoni, and if a kota can be done to him, then it is known as piriutha, which signifies victory for the side. If at the end of the game, there are equal number of ghais, the game is pronounced a draw. The team which gains more ghais is declared as the winning team. Dhopkhel ends in a draw if both teams get equal number of ghais.