NEW DELHI: Human pyramids breaking buttermilk-filled earthen pots (dahi-handi) may be a popular activity on Janmashtmi but for some, the celebration of Lord Krishna's birth is more about the thrill of 'teen-patti.'
People start playing 'teen-patti' or 'three-cards' a month before Janmashtami with clubs and farmhouses being especially booked for the occasion. Meena Sachdeva, a gaming enthusiast says the game of 'teen patti' has a mythological connect with Janmashtami, a festival signifying an end to social evils.
"Gujaratis replicate this age old story and play teen patti on a very large scale before Janmashtami and end it on the day of festival," says Sachdeva. With jobs separating people miles apart, booking hotels or clubs for the game has become difficult for the players who now resort to play the game online.
Shantanu Mathur, an online player says that when he was in US, he used to play teen-patti a lot on Janmashtami with his Gujarati friends.
"But with time, I moved to India and my friends got settled in different places. So playing it online is the best way to catch up with the fun of this game with friends," says Mathur who expects to play this year as well on Janmashtami.
Saurabh Aggarwal, CEO and founder of Octro Inc, which has digitised the centuries old game of teen-patti. Teen-patti, also known as flush or flash, is a card game. The game is about winning or losing one's money, which is considered illegal in many parts. However, says Aggarwal playing it online may not raise any frowns as the real money is replaced with virtual money.
"The excitement of the game remains the same as we give people eight different variations, we have communities as well and we have also tried to mimic the same feel for people who play it offline. We give them virtual currency to enjoy the game with family and friends," says Aggarwal.
Navneet Verma, who plays the game online says since virtual money is used the game cannot be really called as gambling. "Your points are calculated and that's what determines your triumph or victory in the game. It's not really about the money there but the thrill of it," says Verma who has special WhatsApp group to coordinate his schedule with his friends for the game.
It is not only Janmashtami, some people play teen-patti on other festivals as well. According to Aggarwal maximum number of players for teen-patti are usually from Maharashtra and Gujarat on Janmashtami but on Diwali there are more users from North India.
"If you look at south, there is more preference for rummy than teen-patti. And if we consider all time users of teen-patti irrespective of festivals, then it is Maharashtra and Gujarati. Infact, they even play a lot offline," says Aggarwal.
Another enthusiast Raashi Gupta says that she starts playing teen-patti a little before Janmashtami and continues to play till Diwali since she has friends from both states. "We have Facebook group for the game so whenever all my friends are online, we join there only and start playing the game. Online makes it even more interesting as there are many challenges. Infact, as far as I remember, last year in a game there was a challenge and the prize was a trip for the top two players," says Gupta.
Considering this trend for teen-patti, Aggarwal says that since he saw a ten per cent increase in the number of users on the day of Janmashtami last year, Octro Inc has especially introduced premium tables online with different colours and different feel on September 5 this year.
"Initially when people join, we give them virtual money for free and once they use it, they buy more. But for Janmasthmi people can put in nominal amount and win about a crore virtual chips," says Aggarwal.