Friday, March 6, 2020

Why Gurungs celebrate archery day?

Archery is the very oldest skills in which one shoots an arrow from a bow. In this article, I am going to share why Gurungs celebrate archery day? What is the science of it? Why it was important for all humans in the past? 

Hunting and Gathering society

To know about archery in a meaningful way, one should aware of hunting and gathering society. This society started from the paleolithic age about 2.6 million years ago. And continued to neolithic age about 10,000 years ago. It is the first phase of the human society in which there was no agricultural productions. In this modern age, we produce all that we need. We produce rice, wheat, etc to eat. We domesticate animals for meat. We build a house to live in. But in hunting and gathering society, humans lacked all these knowledge and skills. Human did not have any knowledge of how to produce food and crops. They did not have any knowledge how to domesticate animals. The question may arise, how they survived.

Archery competition
 How humans managed foods in hunting and gathering society?

Humans used to live in groups. They had no private property and shelter. They had a nomadic life moving from one place to another. For food, they used to hunt animals. They used to collect fruits from the tree. Since they did not know production, they had to depend on animals for food. So, hunting was very compulsory for them. But from the biological point of view, humans are weaker than animals. How big is the problem? Weaker has to kill stronger. Human had food sources from animals, but animals are stronger. What made humans successful to kill animals? To solve this problem, humans developed a culture of tool-making. It enabled them to kill animals. 

What kinds of primitive tools were there?

There was no invention of metals in the hunting and gathering society. So, humans had to depend on stone tools for hunting purposes. They made stone weapons by flaking. They fractured stone chips away from larger stone by striking it with a stone hammer. These tools made a little bit easy than using bare hands. But still, hunting was very difficult. Because humans had to go near animals, but still killing was not sure. On the contrary, the animal could kill them. There was still very risky. Humans had to find alternatives. They struggled. Later they invented Bhala(spear thrower). It is a long wooden pole attached with pointed stone at its tip. This spear made more easier for hunting. But it also had very limitations. No accuracy and precision. These tools also still made hunting difficult but hunting was a must for humans. 

Why humans invented archery?

Due to the limitations of earlier tools, humans faced so many problems in hunting. To overcome these problems, humans invented more sophisticated equipment which is an archery. It revolutionized the hunting-gathering society. It advanced the technological development. An arrow from the archery is far-reaching and moves with a large force. It made hunting very easy than before. It is very precise, so it replaced the spear thrower. Humans began to get foods more easily by the use of archery. They began to hunt birds at the tree. Even with small groups, archery made hunting possible. No large group is needed. As the archery can shoot long distances at high speed, it is not necessary to go near the animals when hunting. So, it reduced the high degree of risk; animals couldn't attack humans. It was a great achievement for all human beings. Since there was no metal, humans used pointed stone at the tip of the arrow. 

Why Gurungs celebrate archery day?

We came to know that archery revolutionized the primitive human society. Humans succeeded to hunt easily by archery. It changed the different aspects of the world around us. For Gurungs, the invention of archery not only revolutionized their physical world. But it also revolutionized the spiritual world. It was their great achievement throughout time and space, welcoming inspiration and happiness. It was a breakthrough in their creative art and skills enhancing technology. So, to remind those talent, art, and skill, they celebrate the archery day. According to Indra  Bahadur Gurung(ex-president of 'Tamu Pye Lhu Sangh'), "Gurung succeeded to acquire the skill of archery. It was on the day of the full moon. So we celebrate for its remembrance and happiness on Falgun Purnima." This moment of celebration motivates Gurung and makes them feel optimistic.

Gurungs organize archery competition on this day. Both male and female take part in this competition. Competitors are represented by different Gurung organization. Before the competition, they perform the specific ritual for archery and bow. The pachyu who is their spiritual healer execute ritual through religious text and activities. 
Ritual for archery
How Archery revolutionized the spiritual world of Gurung?

From their primitive age, Gurungs conceptualized the spiritual world. In this world, they believe nonobservable entities like spirit, soul, etc. exist. They believe the physical and spiritual world interact with each other. And, humans should balance both worlds. Gurungs used to hunt animals by archery in the physical world. But they also used archery to fight or kill the evil spirits. Gurungs believe that evil spirits are also very powerful. They can cause misfortune for us; even death. So, they used archery to get victory over the evil spirits. Even in this modern age, Gurungs use archery in different rituals. They use it for healing purposes. They use it to protect their village from evil spirits. In death rituals, to make a clear path for the departed soul, they used archery by attacking evil spirits.

The Science of archery

Why archery replaced the spear-thrower? What is the science behind the invention of archery? In both spear and archery before throwing, there produces potential energy. After throwing, it is in motion which creates kinetic energy. So, the potential energy converted into kinetic energy. The formula of kinetic energy(K.E.) is given by;

                      K.E.=(1/2)mv2  where m=mass, v=velocity

From the above formula, we know that mass is inversely proportional to the square of velocity. This simply means, when mass increases, velocity decreases. And when the mass decreases, velocity increases. We know that the mass(weight) of the archery arrow is many times less than the weight of spear. What is its result? Having many times lesser mass in arrow, the velocity of arrow is many times higher than in spear. So, the archery arrow can fly much faster than spear. 

According to hook's law, stress is proportional to the strain. Due to more strain, archery has more potential energy than spear. So, archery is more effective for hunting purposes. The arrow thrown by archery takes a parabolic motion. 


In the past, humans invented archery for hunting and warfares. At present, it is linked to sport and entertainment. Gurungs use archery in both the physical and spiritual worlds.


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