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Thursday, Dec 02, 2021
Outlook.com
revival: old board games

Pallanguzhi Days

Traditional board games make a comeback courtesy a few enthusiasts

Pallanguzhi Days
R.A. Chandroo
Pallanguzhi Days
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

Games People Played

  • Pachisi/Pagade/Chaupad: Dating back to 4th century AD, and akin to Ludo, it is said to be India’s national board game and one of Akbar’s favourites
  • Pallanguzhi/Ali Guli Mane: Played traditionally with tamarind seeds/cowrie shells on a wooden board. Develops logic, hand-eye coordination, concentration
  • Parampadam: This is the original snakes and ladders, steeped in morality, various gods taking you to salvation, and demons plunging you into hell
  • Chaturanga: This ancestor of chess is said to be the game Yudhishthir lost to Duryodhana in the Mahabharata
  • Vimanam: A race game for two played on a printed kalamkari canvas board with wooden counters/coins and cowrie shells
  • Adu Puli Atam/Adu Huli: This game of tigers and goats, with one hunting the other, can still be found etched on temple floors. Improves strategy and concentration.
  • Chaukabara/Ashta Chemma/ Kavidi Kali: This game of chance designed on a mat and zari board or printed kalamkari canvas even has an online version now

***

On a flight to Chennai, Balasubramaniam Iyer, a corporate executive from Mumbai, spotted a news item that immediately sent him on a trip down memory lane. It was about a fledgling project in Chennai focused on reviving ancient Indian board games—the very ones he remembered playing as a child in Palakkad, Kerala. “I learned so many mathematical concepts by playing games such as pallanguzhi with my grandmother. I was impressed, therefore, that someone was actually venturing into a world not considered sexy any more, at least not by most children growing up today,” says Iyer. Soon after he got off the plane, Iyer hunted down Vinita Siddharth of Kreeda Games, the subject of the news item, and went back home to Mumbai with several games stacked inside his suitcase.

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