Teer, also known as archery gambling, is the most popular word in Shillong and also known as Shillong Teer. It has been there since over hundred years, and is the livelihood of a large number of families.
The sport is controlled by Khasi Hills Archery Sport Institute (KHASI) and 12 clubs are affiliated to them where they are allotted turns to shoot on the ground. The Khasi archers assemble around a cylindrical target made out of bamboo thatch and for the next three minutes they shoot at the target.
Once a round is completed, the number of arrows hitting the target is counted. For instance, if the number of arrows hitting the target is 1,214 then the winning digits of that round would be 14.
Gamblers place their best by predicting the winning digits for each round. Bets are registered on single or double-digit numbers. Re 1 placed on a winning single number yields Rs 80 in the first round and Rs 70 in the second round of the game.
The intriguing part associated with the game is the association of dreams with the game. This means if you are lucky to dream a good dream you have the opportunity to win big money.
The gamblers can be seen asking their friends the dreams they had and they would then interpret the same and convert it to numbers for playing Teer. Sometimes they even use fortune telling skills to decrypt the dreams.
If you dream a woman it would be 5 ending number and similarly a man would be 6 ending number. The number 4 signifies blood. If one dreams of teeth the number is 3, and water is represented by 8, the number for money is also 8. All the animals are numbered 7. According to Khasi myths, dreaming of death is decrypt as 69. If a man who met with an accident then the number is 64 or 46. The dreams can be vague or they can be very simple to decipher, but the association of dreams with the game is what makes it more appealing.
For the people who play Teer it is a good pastime which gives them some money if they were lucky.
Earlier, it was considered illegal, but later on the government legalised the gambling game of Teer and that was also when it became commercialised.
There are close to 1500 legal counters in Meghalaya and countless illegal counters throughout Northeast and North Bengal. The gambling industry based on Teer is so huge that Meghalaya Government is earning between Rs 100-200 lakh of revenue annually. Meghalaya government is also trying to cash this craze of teer globally by taking this game online.
Interestingly, it is common to see gamblers drinking heavily after winning. If they lose then also they drink hoping for a better dream next day.
The trend suggests that only a small percent of regular gamblers win.