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Topic: Indian traditional games


by: Prathamesh Waliokar

Chapter5: Traditional Indian games

5.1 Introduction
A game is a situation that involves two or more players, and in which each player faces a
choice between, at least, two behavioral options and strives to achieve the greatest payoff
possible (Michener 2000). It is a natural consequence of what it means to be human. Through
games, we express ourselves (Hyland 1990; Mead 1962).
All games have certain criteria such as a goal, chance,
competition, common experiences, equality, freedom and
no impact on reality, and depending on the game, people
are engaged in some activities, such as thinking, planning,
decision-making, concentrating, timing their minds and

Fig.5.1: Kushti

gaining knowledge. In addition, in all the games, some or all of

the players have fully or partially opposing interests, which causes the behavior of players to
be proactive and strategic. Thus, all the games become sources of moderate exercise, either
physical or mental or even both, and the exercise is essential for all of us. In India whenever
one thinks of sports, cricket is the only game that instantly comes to mind. But the country
has a history of producing many other sports that are
played in different parts but not known to all, as it is
very much restricted to a particular state or region. Since
India is known for its rich cultural heritage, it has a
wonderful, exclusive tradition of games, which can be
played, not only by skilled sports persons, but also by
every member of the family during leisure. Ancient
India, even during the Vedic period, had a rich tradition of

Fig.5.2: Pachissi

games, though mainly played for maintaining physical


Hinduism religion has always given importance to physical perfection. And during the Vedic
period and also during the period of the great epics, the Ramayana and Mahabharata,
physical fitness was given prime importance, especially by the kings and the higher-class

Topic: Indian traditional games


by: Prathamesh Waliokar

warriors. Wrestling seems to have been a popular sport among warrior kings, as there are
numerous occasions in different forms of literature, which has an element involving
wrestling. Lord Hanuman is said to be a master wrestler with immense physical strength, that
he is considered even today, as a symbol of strength and courage. Jambavan, Jarasandha
were some of the other great champions in wrestling. Two very significant events in the
Mahabharata revolve around the sport of wrestling in India. The killing of Kansa by Lord
Krishna as well as the killing of Jarasandha by Bhima, both took place on wrestling arena.









The Mahabharata also mentions the Pandavas and Kauravas in their childhood, playing
different ball games. Several legends like Krishna who is
said to be an expert with his famous discus,
Sudarshanachakra, Arjuna were an expert in archery,
and wielded the famous bow Gandeeva. Even the
existence of the bow and arrow, the dagger, the axe and
the mace found during the excavations at Harappa and
Mohenjodaro confirm that during the Indus Valley
Civilization these weapons were involved in war and hunting exercises. These weapons of
war, for instance, the javelin (toran) and the discus (chakra), were frequently used in the
sports arena. Women, too, excelled in sport and the art of self defence. Even as Buddhism in
India preached and practiced non-violence, it never compromised on physical fitness. In
fact, Gautama Buddha himself is said to have been an ace at archery, chariot racing,




In ManasOlhas (1135 AD.), Someshwar has written

about Bharashram (weight - lifting), Bharamanshram
(walking), both of which are established Olympic
disciplines at present, and Mall - Stambha, a peculiar
form of wrestling, wherein both contestants sit on the
shoulders of their 'seconds', who stand in waist - deep








travellers Hieun

Tsang and Fahien wrote of a variety of sporting activities. Swimming, sword - fighting,
running, wrestling and ball games were immensely popular among the students
of Nalandaand


Topic: Indian traditional games


by: Prathamesh Waliokar

After the legends, even the Mughul history boasts about such sports, as the Mughal
Emperors were patrons of hunting and wrestling. The Agra Fort and the Red Fort were the
popular venues of many wrestling bouts in the times of Emperor Shah Jahan. During the rule
of Maratha Emperors, Chhatrapati Shivaji's guru, Samarth Ramdas, built several Hanuman
temples all over Maharashtra, for the promotion of physical culture among the youth.

A large number of regional games have been played right from many centuries in India. The
most popular traditional indigenous games that are played even today include the likes
of Thoda, KhongKangjei,

Dhopkhel, Silambam, Vallamkali,

Flying, AsolAap and Asol






Ga, HiyangTannaba, Inbuan, Insuknawr, Kirip, Saldu, Ke Nang Haun andKho-Kho. Games
like these have always been a part and parcel of India's great culture. The improvised modern
games actually trace their roots back in India. And surprisingly, these traditional games have
yet not lost their touch, but actually kept their distinct nature alive, even today. If taken a look
minutely, most of these games are played all over India, by different names and with a
slightly little difference in their way of playing it.

5.2Games of central India

Many different types of games are seen to be played in central
India, right from house hold games like Ghoda-ghoda to field
games like Kusthi and Attya-Pattya. These games are age
specific. The early play activities of 2-6 years could be marked a
number of games of the imitative or make-believe type,
Fig.5.5: Ghoda-ghoda

wherein various roles like that of a cart man, horse-driver, enginedriver, music-player, and palanquin-bearer are enacted with
fidelity to real life. Ghoda-ghoda (horse), gadi-gadi (Cart),
palakhi (palanquin) are games of the sort played with no set rules
but with a good team spirit, every player having a part to perform.
Other common games played under this age group are pulling a
toy cart (Gada), jumping, Garya-garya-bhingorya, rolling a
Fig.5.6: bhatukali

Topic: Indian traditional games


by: Prathamesh Waliokar

circular ring, Gulanti, Pangulgada, etc.Bhatukali is the

game of house-keeping often played enthusiastically by girls
with secondary roles given to boys. Dolls marriage may
form a part of bhatukali or be played as a game by itself
when planned on a grand scale. Garya-garya-bhingorya is a

Fig.5.7: Playing Kanchey

game of whirls which children in imitation of each other start playing by going round and
round oneself till the quaint sensation of giddiness sets is noted that during these age group games with no
bondage in terms of any rules and regulation are played as
we could that during this age group childs coordinative
skills are not fully developed.
From 6 -12years (considering child )of age more or less
organized types of games are played as childs coordinative

Fig.5.8: Playing Gulli Danda

skills are fully developed and the games played in this age group helps in enhancing all
physical skills developed in child, i.e. gross motor, fine motor and coordinative skill. Process
like the method of counting out and choosing players which is an interesting process is used
in almost each and every game to decide the It. One player in the group, generally the
leader, does the counting out. He repeats a rhyme or jingle,
touches one player on the chest or head for each accent of the
formula, always beginning from himself and then touching
the one on the left and so on all around the group in a regular
order. The player on who falls the last accent is out, that is,
he is eliminated from succeeding counts. The procedure is
repeated until one player is left out, who becomes the It. The

Fig.5.9: Playing Hu-Tu-Tu


toss-up or olisuki (wet and dry) is a very simple and well-known method of choosing players.
Another popular method of deciding the It is called cakana (dodging). Out of the group of
players three at a time simultaneously raise their hands and let fall their palms in a clap. The
one who joins his palms unlike the rest is replaced by another player. This is repeated till the
It is decided. Games played under this age group are Siva-sivi(ordinary tag), Lapandava
(hide and seek), VaghaBakari (the tiger and the goat), Suraparambi, Ghoda-pani (watering
the horse), Sidi or Tikkar Billa, Cenduphali, Phare-mare, Sgaragote or Gajage,Hu-tu-tu,
Kho-kho, Langadi, Atya-patya, Viti-Dandu, Lagori, kanchey (marbles), etc.