Archery or Ambeyyal as it is popularly called in Kerala, is one of the many games played on the occasion of Onam. The game tests the skill and patience of a player and is played by men.
Rules of the Game
Two teams are formed to play Ambeyyal and each player is given a bow. These teams shoot arrow on each other. Though the game is played with blunted arrows, players from both teams get wounded and a lot of blood sheds as the game proceeds. This happens because the arrows are strong and are discharged with force.
The bow is 18-inch long and is prepared from bamboo. Arrow is a piece of the mid rib of the coconut palm leaf, roughly broken off, leaving a little bit of the leaf at one end which appears as a feather.
A semi-circular two-feet long Stop-Butt is placed in the highest parts, center and the slopes of the ground where the game takes place. Players take their position 25-30 yards before the concave side of the butt. In the centre of the stop-butt, a target is placed on the ground. Target is a piece of part of the plantain tree and is about 3 inches in diameter. It is pointed at the top, on which is stuck a small stick convenient for lifting the 'cheppu' or the mark which is the aim of the players.
Shooting the Arrows
Players shoot indiscriminately at the mark or cheppu. One who manages to hit it carries all the arrows lying on the ground for his team. Players of each team make efforts to secure all the arrows and deprive the other team of its stock.
Tension and excitement is palpable on the ground as players keep shouting and gesticulating during the game. There are some funny moments too that provokes laughter amongst players and onlookers.