Revisit The History & Origins Of Traditional Indian Games
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Revisit The History & Origins Of Traditional Indian Games

A yearning follows when we look back at the times we spent during the breaks we used to get at school - running out to spend those precious minutes, gathering our friends, and rushing to the field. This nostalgia of the old days is a reminder of the excitement we used to feel when the bell rang, soaring through our bodies.

Not to say, however, that this childlike essence of those days cannot be returned. All we need to do is remember and safely nestle in the feeling of physical agility, excitement, speed, and pure bliss that is carried within it.

Today, living in the era of the digital age, there is a slight dread of the many games we played in our childhood leaving our minds - abandoned and disregarded, with none of it being passed down to the children of today. To prevent such an affair in the smallest capacity, we are going down a lane that will rekindle the deepest parts of our childhood. Especially intriguing are the traditional games that have etched themselves into our lives - carrying with them a rich heritage and a sense of cultural identity. 

Pithu, 7 Stones, or Languri: Childhood Outdoor Game

Pittu, a personal favourite that has defined a significant part of my childhood. Typically played outside the school premises, it entailed collecting flat stones and using tennis balls to hit each other. Due to its spirited nature, playing Pittu within the school playground was deemed a bit aggressive.

Also known as the game of Seven Stones, it is an ancient sport that traces its history back to the Bhagwata Purana, a Hindu religious text written 5000 years ago. Lord Krishna is mentioned to have played this traditional game with his friends. Originating in the southern parts of the Indian subcontinent, it was a popular outdoor sport in India and Pakistan during the 1990s but has now become less known among urban crowds.

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Dog and the Bone: A Classic

Rumal Jhapatta, also known as the Dog and the Bone game, is a beloved outdoor team game that originated from the rural parts of Rajasthan.

For years, Rumal Jhapatta has been a common game played in schools all over India. This simple game requires nothing more than a handkerchief or Rumal. Although, this item can be replaced by anything that is small in size and quick to pick and run.

Kho Kho: Mythological Origins

Kho-Kho is believed to have been inspired by the Hindu sacred text of Mahabharata. The legend goes that the tactic used by Abhimanyu to fight the defensive circle in the war of Mahabharata is frequently put to use in the game of Kho-Kho. It was also played using chariots during ancient periods and was popularly known as Rathera.

The modern form of Kho Kho was invented in 1914 by Pune's Deccan Gymkhana club, which provided formalized rules and structure for the game. It was demonstrated at the 1936 Berlin Olympics alongside other traditional Indian games. Today, Kho Kho is a medal sport in the South Asian Games, having been played in the 2016 edition.

Hopscotch: A Centuries-Old Game with Global Variations

Stapoo is a popular game in the Indian Sub-Continent, primarily enjoyed by small and teenage girls. It is a centuries-old game with its origins dating back to ancient Rome. It is believed to have been invented to train Roman soldiers. The courts used for Hopscotch were extensive, sometimes spanning over 100 feet, and helped Roman Foot-Soldiers improvise their footwork while running in full armor. Roman children drew inspiration from it and played a smaller version with a scoring system.

In India, Hopscotch goes by different names in different regions. In Hindi-speaking regions, it is known as KithKith, Stapoo, and Langdi. In Bengal, it is called Ekhaat-Duhaat or Ekka-Dukka, while in Maharashtra, kids enjoy it as Langdi-Paani. In South India, it is known as Kunte-Bille in Karnataka, Paandi in Tamil Nadu, and Tokuddu in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.


Gilli Danda: The Indian Cricket

Gilli-Danda is an amateur sport widely played in rural areas and small towns in Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and even in some parts of Cambodia and Italy. The game involves two sticks: a large one called a danda used to hit a smaller one, known as the gilli.

This ancient Indian sport possibly dates back over 2500 years and is believed to have influenced Western games like cricket, baseball, and softball. As an amateur youth sport, gilli-danda boasts many regional variations. In certain versions, the striker's score depends on how far the gilli falls from the striking point, measured in terms of the danda or gilli length.

Kabaddi: A Sport with Ancient Tamil Nadu Roots

Kabaddi, a sport with its roots centred on Jallikattu, was once common among the Ayar tribal people living in the Mullai region of ancient Tamil Nadu. In this game, a player going against the opposition is treated like a bull, reminiscent of taming a bull without physical contact.

With a rich history, kabaddi traces its origins back over 4,000 years in Tamil Nadu. India played a pivotal role in popularizing kabaddi as a competitive sport, witnessing organized competitions in the 1920s and its inclusion in the Indian Olympic Games in 1938.

In every nook and corner of India, a plethora of traditional games exists, each with its own unique name and variations. Notably, we have Marbles, also known as Maram Pitti, where players try to eliminate each other by skillfully throwing a ball. Indian games involving marbles are known as Kancha/Kanche or Golli Gundu, with players flicking marbles to capture as many as possible and emerge victorious. Additionally, we have the game of Lock and Key, also called Vish-Amrit, akin to the Western freeze tag, where players freeze opponents by tagging them, and their teammates can unfreeze them by tagging them back.

Revisit The History & Origins Of Traditional Indian Games
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The charm of these games lies in their simplicity and the joy they bring, making them an integral part of our diverse cultural heritage. As we rediscover these traditional Indian games, we are not only preserving our past but also ensuring that future generations can embrace the same sense of excitement and camaraderie that once filled our own childhoods.

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