Traditional Indian Toys and Games

What games do Indian children play these days?
A country like ours,has a very long history and has had a thriving civilization for hundreds of centuries.

So what did Indian children play before the advent of cricket and tennis?
Definitely,they were not lazing around.
Whatever happened to those traditional games and toys?

Here are some of the traditional games and toys used in India.I myself have played some of them in my childhood.

Pallankuzhi-This is one of my favourites.I remember having an old wooden board at home for playing this.
This game is played using the pallankuzhi board and cowrie shells(kavade).The game is called Pallankuzhi

in Tamil and alagulimane in Kannada.Sometimes instead of cowrie shells,gundumani seeds (crab’s eye) or puliankottai(tamarind seeds).The pallankuzhi board has 14 holes arranged in two parallel rows,each row containing 7 holes.One hole in each row is left empty.Game is played between two players.Players pickup cowries from one hole and drop the cowries one by one in each of the holes.When number of cowries in a hole becomes 6,the player who dropped the last cowrie picks it up.When all the holes become empty,the game is over.

Paandi-This is an outdoor game,mostly played by girls.This is an Indian version of the Hopscotch game.Square patterns are drawn on a flat surface and girls hop from one square to another on one leg.A small stone is used to choose the squares. Sometimes,a girl hops from one square to another with eyes closed and asking her friend “right or wrong” to determine if the square chosen is the right one.
Paandi can be played by four or more players.There are rules for which box to choose for jumping.Care should be taken not to touch the edges of the boxes while jumping.Game continues until all the squares are jumped on to.The player who completes all the squares first is the winner.
Aadu Puli Aattam(Goat-Tiger Game)-Called Puli-Meke Aatta in Kannada.Three pieces representing tigers and 15 pieces representing goats are used.Two players can play this game.There are rules about how the tiger pieces and goat pieces should move.One player owns the tigers and the other player owns the goats.
When all the goats are captured,the tiger owner wins.When the tigers are blocked from movement,the goat owner wins.
Paramapadha Sobhana Padam(Snakes and Ladders)-This game was mostly reserved for playing on Vaikunta Ekadashi day,when one had to be awake the whole night.It is an older version of the Snakes and Ladders game.A dice is used to determine the number of squares through which the pieces have to move.The game was played on a religious day like Vaikunta Ekadashi,to remind the players that good deeds (ladders) make them go up in life,whereas bad deeds(snakes) bring them down.
Thanjavur Thalaiyatti Bommai-This was most probably the first toy for a baby.The toy has a rounded base at the bottom and a human figure on the top.Meant mostly for babies who are learning to crawl.As the doll is pushed,the rounded base makes it to roll.The baby is attracted by the colurful toy and follows it,thus learning faster to crawl.
Chennapatna Toys-Chennapatna in Karnataka is famous for wooden toys.There are a variety of wooden toys like whistles,rattles,pull-along carts,flutes and a lot more.There is a revived interest in this industry these days.With changing times,the themes of the toys have also changed.Although the traditional flavour is still retained,modern concepts have been incorporated into it.


Sadly,these days children are not aware of all these games.As parents,it is our responsibility to make them aware of the existence of the beautiful Indian games.I found that in Bangalore,there is a place called Kavade which sells traditional Indian game boards and toys.Was excited on learning about this. in Hindi and Pagade in Kannada)-This is another board game played throught India.Board is either drawn on the ground or woven on a fabric.It is similar to Ludo of modern times.Two to Four players can play the game.Dayam(Dice) is rolled and pieces are moved based on the number indicated on the dice.One player’s piece can ‘cut’ another player’s piece placed on a non-cross square,if it reaches the same square.The ‘cut’ pieces are removed from the board.The player whose pieces reach the centre of the board first is declared the winner.
Thanks to Deepa for suggesting this edit.
Here,I have only mentioned some of our traditional games and toys.I am sure there are lots more.Blog Readers are welcome to share their favorite traditional games and toys,which they enjoyed playing as children.
Adding two more games:(Thanks to Subhashini and Rama):Kallanga-This is a game played by two players,using five stones.You have to throw one stone in the air and pick up one stone.Repeat the stone throwing process and pick up stones in increasing number,for each throw.Repeat the steps until you throw all five up in the air and pick one from down.
Refer for more information.

Goli Danda-The game is played between two teams.Two pieces of wood,one small and one big,are used similar to bat and ball.In fact,Goli(or Gill)  Danda is considered to be the pioneer of all the modern day bat and ball games.The Danda is used to hit the Goli.If a player from opposite team catches the gilli,then the player who threw the gilli is out.


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