The chungi can perhaps be regarded as Darjeeling town’s foremost time pass. It does not have a definite history and its origins are not known, but it closely resembles the Thai and Burmese foot-kick, wicker-ball games.

In its earlier avatar, the chungi was made up of a ring of feathers with the bottom weighed down with a metal piece or coin and resembled a badminton shuttle cock. Over time, the feathers were replaced by rubber bands and its shape evolved into a round form.

Immensely popular and immersing as a sport, the chungi is very inexpensive to put together and rather humble in appearance: a bunch of rubber bands tied together to form a loose, spherical framework. This simplicity in assembly and the minimal costs are perhaps the secrets behind its success.

DIY chungi video

How to play

Playing chungi is as easy when it comes to rules. You just bounce the chungi with your foot, right, left or both, as many times as possible without letting it touch the ground. Once you are comfortable doing this, you can experiment with the game play.

When in a group, you can form a circle, each person bounces the chungi a few times and passes it on to another, who will do the same. The object of the game is to let the chungi be in play as long as possible while being passed on from one person to another. A variation of this could be with a straight line drawn on the ground with two teams on either side, passing the chungi across. The opposing team gains a point if the chungi drops to the ground on your side.

Another variation would be to have someone play goalkeeper while the rest bounce the chungi a few times and then shoot the chungi across the goalkeeper to score goals.