By V.N. Balakrishna, IANS
Ahmedabad | For many Gujaratis, men as well as women, the festival of Janmashtami is more than just Lord Sri Krishna’s birthday. It is a time when they can gamble without being frowned upon by society!
Over the ages, the occasion – celebrated on Saturday as well as Sunday in different parts of India – has come to be associated here with the card game of Teen Patti. Age and gender are no bar and there are thousands of rupees to be won or lost.
Heer Patel, a student here, says: “My idea is a get-together at home with friends and the idea is to have fun. There is enough to eat and play. We see the game through with the winner pocketing the moolah and no one thinks of quitting until it is over.”
At many clubs and hotels there are special tables for women. But most prefer gambling at kitty parties.
While most of northern India is observing Janmashtami Sunday, many Hindus in the south, west and east celebrated it Saturday.
So what is it that awakens the gambler’s instinct in ordinary folk on Janmashtami? There is a belief that the gods also gamble and that’s why devotees do too.
Says Mayur Bhatt, a Teen Patti watcher: “If you play cards as a matter of routine it is frowned upon by family members. But during this festival, everyone shows unabashed support for gambling.”
Gambling, being a criminal offence, could invite police trouble if people are caught with cards and money. People often prefer to play in hotels, resorts and clubs. Some rent flats for as long as 10 to 15 days, forking out handsome amounts.
Gamblers are sometimes ready to offer Rs.10,000 as two-day rent for a quiet flat. This year the demand is said to be unusually high, especially in areas like Vatva, Narol, Naroda and Santej which form part of Ahmedabad’s industrial belt.
Teen Patti is played with a 52-card pack. The ace ranks high and ‘two’ low. Any reasonable number of players can take part; anything from four to 15 is the average to keep the game moving.
Before commencement, the value of the minimum stake is agreed upon and everyone drops his stake in a vessel or pot, the collection eventually going to the winner of the round. Teen Patti is a simplified version of poker where three cards are dealt.