Sep 23, 2010
Of all the things I miss in my life, I miss the old traditional games the most. I don’t know from where I got this weird idea of writing about the soon-to-be extinct games, but I am sure the idea is not that weird. Actually it stemmed from the Edinburgh Toy Museum. I just happened to hear about it from friends and like a flash of lightning a thought ran up my brain that even we in India could open a museum or some kind of a school which would teach about old traditional games. I sincerely hope some rich person starts this venture as I know how the government sector in India works.
To begin, when I was young (not that I am old now… I guess 'younger' is a better word ) my elder sister and I never ever played badminton, tennis, table tennis, thowball, volleyball or even cricket (I know you are making a face...Of course it’s a lie, but it looks good in an article). We along with our gang of fabulous cousins played some very interesting games. I cannot recollect all of them as some were customised by us to suit our needs.
Every state in India is unique and this uniqueness has made our country what it is today - a diverse land full of amazing cultures and traditions. It is this aspect that led to my topic of interest – games. When I googled for “Old Indian Traditional Outdoor Games,” I got a huge list of games I had never heard of. That's when I realized this article needs a lot of research and here I am writing this with a little bit of poking around - the rest is left to the readers, as my main aim is to prompt the readers to contribute to the list of such games (And no, it's not a cover-up for my bad research).
Some games I would like to mention are Goli, Chol-Chol, Kutti-Donne, Lagori, Kunte–Bille, Chenna Mane, Kabaddi and the one which I enjoyed the most - making idlis from wet mud. I will discuss briefly all these games and would love the readers to share their knowledge as well.
The most vivid memories of my childhood are of being a proud owner of golis (no dirty thoughts here please…), though I never played with them. Boys from my neighbourhood had matches every weekend and I used to watch them hit the goli, win and get the opponent’s goli. Amazing. It's a shame this game is not in Olympics.
Kutti–Donne needs no introduction, I guess. It was the most loved game then. Chenna Mane was a game similar to Ludo and more fun to play during rainy season. We still have a board at home and the Mane is still there. My granny from Kemmannu used to give us the seeds whenever we needed.
Many people may not know about Chol-Chol. Maybe it’s a game which was made up by my friends, but it was a cool game, and more the people the better. Two teams would be made and a gunny bag full of sand would be given to each team. The teams would be alloted separate areas and players in either team had to make dots of sand so that the opposite team would not find them. Whichever team had the most dots hidden form the opposite team won.
Lagori too was a fascinating game, but a bit painful. I remember hitting my cousin so hard with the ball that she began crying and we had to stop playing.
It’s a pity that we don't play these games today. Kids today have not even heard of these fantastic games - all they know is PS2, Xbox and stuff which is played in the living rooms. Cricket, tennis, soccer and other beautiful games have taken over the older generation of games. Something has to be done seriously either to restore the games or to construct a museum to preserve these endangered games. We all know how rich Indian federations are, but nothing is seriously done in the right direction.
Even with cricket, football, tennis, TT, badminton and hockey, India is not able to produce a world class team or an athlete. Yeah, cricket is an exception as money spins from everywhere for this game. Nothing against cricket - I am an avid fan and an above average player, if I may say so myself! There are plenty of reasons why India, with a population of one billion cannot find 11 players who can kick the ball, a few individuals who can run, who can play good tennis, badminton, archery, and so on.
First, the facilities - Indian facilities are awful. No proper playgrounds, no health facilities, equipment, and add to that, very bad management. People with no experience in sports get seats under sports quota. Parents don’t encourage their children to get into sports as making a living out of it is not our cup of tea. In western countries, there are excellent facilities and that’s the reason why these countries win so many medals and produce top class athletes. Every university has sports centres as big as the university itself and encouragement is given throughout.
Second, encouragement - right now, with India booming to become one of the fastest growing economies in the world, sports should not be neglected. A system which starts from school level and ends up in Olympics has to be chalked out. Strategists sitting in New Delhi, as we all know, are useless and the mess revolving around Delhi Commonwealth Games is a prime example of how bad sports administration in India is.
To sum up, we are neither able to preserve our old games, nor able to move on and excel in other games. I know some friends here who want to start a business venture in sports management, but will it be feasible? I have no idea. But I do know this much - without proper backing, it does not have much chance of succeeding. Something needs to be done right now or else we will never be able to put India on the map of world sports.
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