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Traditional Board Games Make A Comeback

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Game On

While the world is going digital so are games but wait there is hope as there is a small bit sure movement that aims to revive traditional board games.

Vinita Sidhartha a journalist and media consultant kept busy with her professional commitments and it was her grandmother who babysat her children. In spite of the fact that there was close to an 80 year age gap between them, the children enjoyed their time with their great grandmother. “My children loved spending time with her as she played old traditional games with them. I then started researching and writing about the games which met with a phenomenal response. Out of curiosity I started finding out more about the different kinds of traditional games which my grandmother would also recognize. Soon I decided to manufacture some games and started with a trial of 50 games more with the intention of selling a few and gift the rest. It was a time when I wanted to rethink my career but I was fortunate that we sold out quickly and soon became an entrepreneur accidentally.” Incidentally this led to the foundation of Kreeda Games that is based in Chennai and is doing its bit to ensure that the interest in traditional board games does not wane.

Chowka Bhara
Chowka Bhara

Games People Play

Traditional board games have come to the forefront in a big way in recent times primarily because there is awareness created through workshops, seminars and talks. At a recent event at The Courtyard in Bengaluru, as part of Nazariya’s Forgotten Cultures Workshop Series, many of the traditional games were on display. Nazariya works with 21 artisans in 10 states pan India to revive folk arts and forms. “Traditional games are almost an extinct art and we do workshops to spread awareness and explain the tradition and history behind the games. All these games are over 1000 years old and there is no definitive date as such. We see a lot of these games carved in the corners of temple walls in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. These games teach you concentration, strategy, planning, team work and cohesiveness which is also what Indian culture represents. There are many versions and levels of playing these games which makes them interesting,” says Raghvi Khurana, Founder, Nazariya. Dipti Rao who manages The Courtyard adds, “India has many traditions but we more often than not do not engage with it, perhaps because of accessibility. I know Ludo but was not aware that the original game was actually from India. Also I feel these games are a wonderful way to engage with myself and also it teaches you things like dexterity which adults are losing touch with.”

Game to expect
Game to expect

Roll the Dice

Kavade based in Bengaluru is another endeavour to revive traditional games and the last three years has contributed to the revival of the same. Sreeranjini who runs Kavade attributes this revival to the trend towards going back to our roots. “Apart from an offline and online store, we have Kavade Attic which is a terrace setup with many old games where people not just get to play the games but also understand the context the game has.” Interestingly there are experience centers that can be set up in any location by organisations like Kavade to have more people join in to experience the game. “Research is a strong foundation of what we do as we need to understand the relevance of these games in the 21st century and why we need to reconnect with them. It also helps that social media has proven to be an effective and low cost media to market these games which has added to their popularity,” adds Vinita. The team at Kreeda does several events to build awareness and the recent month long roadshow in Chennai involved schools, colleges, orphanages, old age homes, offices and metro stations where 100-150 people at each location who tried the games. So the next time you are looking to engage your children, you do not need to look very far. Your very own backyard has many interesting secrets up its sleeve that are waiting to be discovered. So well, get set and roll the dice and take off on a mystical journey that will entertain you like no other.

Children playing traditional board games
Children playing traditional board games

Sacred Games

Pagade/Chopad: A race game where 2 or 4 players race their respective pawns to the innermost square. This was the national game of Bharatha, believed to be played by Pandavas & Kauravas with Daala (Stick Dice).

Tiger & Goat /Bagh chal: A beautiful strategy game that falls in the family of Hunt games. It is a two player chase game of skill, strategy and thinking like chess

Navakankari / Kattayam Villayatu: A game similar to knots and crosses, but far more dynamic and a usefully addictive brainteaser.

Chowkabara/Koladaan: Four players can participate in this game much akin to LUDO. The purpose is to race ones pawns from the starting point to the safety of home. The game is played with cowrie shells instead of dice.

Aligulimane/Mancala: This is a popular game loved by the young and the old alike. This game originated from the concept of sowing and reaping – an integral part of rural life all over India, with several regional, caste and religious variations.

Kalanay Balaney: An older version of chess from Karnataka

This story first appeared in Tribune Spectrum dated 11th Nov 2018 here:

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