India’s culture and traditions are one of the most diverse in the world. A very big part of this culture is the games that were played in the olden days. You might remember stories of the Pandavas who had lost Draupadi to the Kauravas over a game of dice, or seen statues and paintings of Mughals enjoying a game of chess. These are very good examples of the rich history of Indian games.

With time, our games changed into the ones we see around us today. With PlayStation, mobile phones, and PCs giving people so many games to play, we have almost replaced the traditional Indian games with these modern ones. In this article, we plan to introduce children to the most popular traditional games so that they can enjoy the games that you played in your childhood. Recall and replay these games with your children today:

1. Ashta Chamma:

Spend the summer in traditional fun!

This game can be played by either 2 players or 4 players. Depending on the number of players, the board size is decided. For 2 players the board is 5×5 with 5 colored squares and for 4 players the board is 7×7 with 8 colored squares. This game is based on three key concepts: observation, chance and strategy. Traditionally this game was played with cowry shells, but you can also use a pair of dice. This is one of the most memorable games throughout Indian history because of its references in epics such as Mahabharata.

On a 5×5 board, each player will have 4 pawns and 4 cowry shells. The game follows in this manner: a player rolls and throws the cowry shells, counting how many fell “inverted” and how many fell “as is”. If all the shells are “inverted”, it is called a “chamma”, and if all the shells fall “as is”, it is called “ashta”. Every “ashta” has 8 points. In other cases, when a shell lands inverted, it carries a value of 1, and when it lands as is, it carries a value of 0. So, the possible points you can get in one roll is 1,2,3,4,8.  When you get 4 or 8 you get another turn to roll the shells.

Depending on your points you can move your pawns that many places on the board. The board has a specific path (in an anti-clockwise manner) through the outer squares into the inner squares. The goal is to get all of a player’s pawns into the center of the board.

2. Vamana Guntalu: 

Spend the summer in traditional fun!

This game originally came into Andhra Pradesh from Tamil Nadu. It is a 2-player game and all you need is the board and some tamarind seeds (if you can’t get a hold of tamarind seeds, medium-sized stones will do). The board is wooden and has fourteen semi-circular holes (or pits). The board usually has 7 pits on each side, with 146 seeds or stones to be used as counters. The number of counters vary widely from one game to another.

The game starts with placing 12 counters into each pit, except the middle pit of each row, where 2 counters are placed. One player begins from one corner of his row, picking up all the counters in the first pit and distributing them one by one counter-clockwise into the remaining pits on his row. Once he finishes putting counters throughout his row, he proceeds on to his opponent’s row, where he keeps placing the counters in one by one. Once his last counter is dropped on the board, he picks up all the counters from the next pit and starts again.

When a player puts in his last counter in a pit that is before an empty pit, he captures all the counters that are present in the pit after the empty pit. The ultimate aim of the game is to capture as many counters as possible.

This game helps kids learn to count, improves hand-eye coordination and helps kids focus better.

3. Goleelu:

Spend the summer in traditional fun!

Goleelu is a traditional game of marbles. This game has five variations- The line game, the doubles game, the Bombay ring game, the Bombay giri game and the kanchata game. The most popular form among these five is the line game. Let us take  you through the game below-

In the line game version, a rectangle is drawn on the ground and a horizontal line is drawn through the middle of the rectangle. Marbles are placed along the line drawn. All players stand a little further away from the rectangle (around 2-4 meters) and try shooting at the marbles with a bigger marble. When the bigger marble strikes the smaller marbles, they are displaced away from the line. Some of them move out of the rectangle while some stay inside the rectangle. The marbles that move out of the rectangle are taken by the player who shot the bigger marble. The marbles that move away from the line but not out of the rectangle are put back on the line for the next player.

The aim of the game is to capture as many marbles as possible. The player with the maximum number of marbles wins.

These were only a few of our traditional games! For more such exciting games, keep watching our blog space.

Unlike today’s children who spend most of their time amidst video games and television, previous generations of Indian children had some very entertaining ways to keep themselves busy while having tons of fun! They had some very cool and engaging games, which have unfortunately died out in today’s craze for virtual games.

Here we continue from our previous post, bringing back popular games from way back and tell you how to play them. Let’s begin!

4. Bongaram Aata:

Spend the summer in traditional fun!

A spinning top, popularly known as ‘lattoo’ in Hindi was once a very popular toy. It is usually seen as made of wood and has an inverse raindrop shape. The lower part of the top has grooves built into it around which you can wrap a string. The goal is to pull on the string and uncoil the top, making it spin on its tip for as long as possible. Tops were earlier made of wood, but they are now available in plastic as well.

This game allows you to build your concentration while also improving your sense of balance. While pulling on the string to make the top spin, you will know exactly how much force you need to apply, the best way to pull on the string, and much more. These are all teaching your mind how to best deal with situations. Although usually this game is played alone, you can also team up with others in a fun group activity to see whose top stops spinning first.

5. Meka-Puli Aata:

Known as the game of goats and tigers, this game is a simple strategy game that is usually played between two people or two teams. The game is unusual because of its symmetry, or rather the lack of it. One player (or team) controls three tigers while the other controls 15 goats. In the game, the goats try to block the movement of the tigers while the tigers ‘hunt’ the goats. This game is one of the most ancient games ever played.

It is a board game, with the board shaped like a V with two side wings. The three tigers are placed at the apex of the board in a triangle. No goats are placed on the board at the beginning. The player controlling the goats moves first, putting a goat at the intersection of the lines on the board. Then, the player controlling the tigers puts one tiger in the adjacent position to the goat along the intersection lines.

The tigers capture the goats by jumping over it to a free position beside the goat. This is similar in principle to what happens in checkers. No goat can move from its position until all 15 of them have been placed on the board.

The rules for the tigers are-

  • They can start capturing goats from the second move.
  • Only one goat can be captured at a time.
  • Jumping over the goat is possible in all directions as long there is one free position next to the goat for the tiger to jump to.
  • A tiger is not allowed to jump over another tiger.

The rules for the goats are-

  • They are not allowed to jump.
  • Once they are captured, they must leave the board.
  • They can only move once all the goats are on the board.

If all the goats are captured, the tigers win. If all the tigers are blocked by goats and cannot move anywhere, the goats win.

 6. Vaikuntapali:

Spend the summer in traditional fun!

This ancient board game is now regarded as a worldwide classic. The board is very iconic, with squares that contain little numbers, snakes of varying lengths, and ladders. The snakes and the ladders are always connecting two squares on different rows, either taking you higher or lower. Each player is given a pawn that they have to move from the smallest number to the largest number on the board, which is done with the help of dice. The person reaching the end of the board first is the winner. It is a game of luck and your rolling skills, while you compete for a race to the finish.

The size of the board varies from manufacturer to manufacturer, along with the position of the snakes and the ladders. These factors also contribute to the complexity of the game.

Go reconnect with your old roots and enjoy these lesser known traditional games this summer vacation!