Buzkashi, which literally translated means "goat grabbing" is the national sport of Afghanistan. Many historians believe that Buzkashi began with the Turkic-Mongol people, and it is indigenous shared by the people of Northern Afghanistan. There are two main types of Buzkashi, Tudabarai and Qarajai. Tudabarai is relatively simple compared with Qarajai, even though they share similar objectives.
In Buzkashi, a headless carcass is placed in the center of a circle and surrounded by the players of two opposing teams. The object of the game, is to get control of the carcass and bring it to the scoring area. Although it seems like a simple task, it is not. Only the most masterful players, (called chapandaz) ever even get close to the carcass. The competition is fierce, and the winner of a match receives prizes that have been donated by a sponsor. These prizes range from money, to fine turbans and clothes. In order for someone to become a chapandaz, one must undergo a tremendous amount of difficult training. In fact, the best chapandaz, are usually over the age of forty. Buzkashi, is definitely not a game for the weak.
The players are not the only ones who undergo arduous training; the horses that participate in buzkashi must train for five years before ever making it to the playing field. Buzkashi, is indeed a dangerous sport, but intensive training and excellent communication between the horse and rider can help minimize the risk of injury.
The different types of Buzkashi: Tudabarai & Qarajai
In Tudabarai, in order to score, the rider must obtain possession of the carcass and then carry it away from the starting circle in any direction. The rider must stay free and clear of the other riders.
In Qarajai, the task is much more complex. The player must carry the calf around a marker, and then return the carcass to the team's designated scoring circle.
In each version of the game, points are awarded for successfully completing the task of getting control of the carcass, and getting it to the proper scoring area. The winner of each match receives prizes which have been put up by a sponsor. The top prizes are usually money, or fine clothes.
To many Afghans, Buzkashi is not just a game, it is a way of life; a way in which teamwork and communication are essential to being successful.
I got this word for word off the Afghanistan website. This was a very popular sport until the Taliban opposed it and they made it hard for them to 'play'. Now that the Taliban isn't in 'power' they are playing the 'sport' again.
(the rest of this is from an article by Tony Perry from the Los Angeles Times.
It was banned during the Taliban's reign and resuscitated after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan. The ancient and only lightly regulated sport is bigger than ever, according to officials who organize weekly games in several locations in the capital and 17 outlaying provinces. Friday is buzlcashi day in most of Afghanistan. So far, at least, the resurgent Taliban militants haven't been able to stop buzkashi.
Haji Abdul Rashid, head of the government-sponsored Buzkashi Federation, has dreams of leagues, corporate sponsorship, television and even acceptance for the Olympic Games.(yeah, like that's going to happen.)
"A buzlcashi rider must be a real man," he said. "Not just in his body but in his heart and his mind.
American anthropologist G. Whitney Azoy finds buzkashi a suitable metaphor for Afghan life:brutal, chaotic, a continual fight for control(in this case, of a dead goat.)
Afghanistan, Azoy notes in his book Buzkashi:Game and Power in Afghanistan, has been largely bereft of strong institutions that provide security and stability. Instead, leaders are men who can seize control by means foul and fair and then fight off their rivals. The buzkashi rider does the same.
Rashid, a former buzkahi champion, has a slightly different take. Buzkashi reminds Afghans of their warrior culture, he says, and the goat symbolizes their vanquished foe.
Ok...and this in a nutshell is why we will never win in Afghanistan. Unless President Obama takes off a year and learns how to ride a horse, snatch up a headless goat and ride hell bent for leather to toss the goat into a circle, we're fucked.
Another history lesson and my take on world events.