Gilli Danda And Other Traditional Games Of India

Ask a child of this generation what a Game is; they will shove a favorite game on their smartphone at your face. But kids of Nineties or earlier may tell you words like  Gill Danda, Pallanghuzhi, Pachhisi, Ludo, even cycle tire racing!   These are just a few names of some of the nearly extinct traditional games of India.

Will you believe that some of these traditional games date back to the Gupta period?  Yes, this is true. Here is a look into the games that our ancestors enjoyed and how we can play them even today.

Games and their rules

Games per se are played on mutually agreed or established rules and regulations.  Aadu Puli Aatam or Meka Puli Aata is a game that is to be completed within 1 hour. The coins used in play are called Lambs and Tigers. One player has 15 lambs and the second player has three tigers.  The Tigers try to get at the goats while the goats take positions to block the tiger’s movement.

Same game different names

At least some of these traditional games of India are played in all nooks and corner of the country. But their names differ.  For example, the game played with round marbles is called Golilu in Andhra region and Kacha in the northern belt of India.  The aim of this game is to strike marbles of other kids placed inside a circle with your own marble.  The marbles you hit become yours!

Some traditional sports are a Child’s play

Some of the traditional games of India were popular among the boys and girls of the previous generation. Gilli Danda is a favorite among boys.  This game involves the use of two stout sticks of which one is longer.  The big one, Danda is used to hit the small one across open fields and the one who hits it furthermost is the winner.

The Dog and Bone is a game played by 10 – 20 kids who are grouped into two different teams.  A circle is drawn and an object is placed inside. A player from each side comes and tries to grab the object first.  The one who collects continues and the other group player is ousted.  The final score is arrived by the number of collections made.

Tukudi Billa or Stpoo is a favorite game of girls under 12 years. It is an outdoor game similar to hopscotch.  Big Boxes are drawn on the floor and children have to hop or use two legs to move inside them and collect objects.

Top spinning is another popular game played by children during their time out on the playground.  It is called Lattu in some areas and Bambaram in others.

High energy traditional games of India

Don’t think that all the traditional games of India are only a Child’s play.  Some games like Kabaddi are a part of the Asian games.  High energy levels are required for playing this game played by two teams each consisting of 7 members. Pro kabbadi initiated recently is a great favorite among the younger generation now.

Mallakhamb is an Indian form of Gymnastics.  Here the gymnast performs yogic postures on a vertical wooden pole or hanging from a rope.  This sport is the state sport of Madhya Pradesh.

Jalli Kattu is popular in the state of Tamil Nadu.  The comparison can be made of this sport with Bullfighting of Spain.  Bulls were made to run through crowds and hold prize money in between their horns.  The person from the crowd who tames or manages to wrest away the prize is the winner.

Insuknawr or rod pushing is a Traditional game from the state of Mizoram.  Here, two players hold a rice pounding pestle called Suk on both sides.  Each player tries to shift the rod and shove it towards the other player. The successful player wins the round

Traditional Games played under a roof

Games played indoors are called indoor games. These are mostly board games that two to four people can play together.

Pallanguzhi is a traditional game played in Southern states of India like Tamil Nadu.  This board game has 14 cups and is played band is played by two players who control 7 cups on their side.  Six seeds or cowrie shells are placed in each cup.     Each player then starts picking up seeds and dropping one in each cup in the anticlockwise direction.  The game ends when a player has no seeds to fill cups with seeds.  It is a game of planning and discretion and is being promoted by lovers of this traditional game in schools.

Pachisi is a medieval Indian Board game that has a symmetrical cross board.  It is played by four players. The coins on the board are moved on the fall basis of 6 – 7 cowrie shells. Strategy tactics and probability play a major role in winning this wonderful game.   Chaupar is another game similar to Pachisi

While games like Pallanguzhi are known only locally, some traditional games of India are world famous.  Have you played Snakes and ladders (called Parama Padam in south India), Kite flying, Ludo, Chess (also called chaturanga), Kho kho, Wrestling (Gushti)?  Now, close that smartphone and try these out!

Featured Photo: Pallanguzhi – பல்லாங்குழி by VijayForVictory under CC BY-SA 2.0

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