Lagori, Kutti-Donne... Ah, Those were the Days

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.

Anil D'Souza - Archives:


by Anil D'Souza, Halealve
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Comment on this article

  • lgrao, Bangalore

    Sun, Aug 28 2011

    Hey very nice article. I used ot play all these games and miss them very much now. Those days were awesome. I try to enliven them by playing with my family and kids at home. Insteading of waiting for someone to start it will be good for us to start at home and teach our next generations.

  • Damayanthi, Kasaragod

    Sat, Apr 30 2011


    I got chenna mane. I used to play when I was a kid. But now I forgot the game. If any one knows this game plz explain the game.

  • Sanika gupte, Mumbai

    Thu, Nov 18 2010

    Its a very nice a days children are very much hooked to their tv sets,internet or busy in their tution classes that they hardly get any time to enjoy their childhood...I was actually thinking of working on these traditional old games which even i have 'just heard of' from my mother...yet find it amazingly intresting..Hope after reading this article children will be inspired to get active and enjoy their childhood..Cheers!!!

  • geoffrey, hathill

    Tue, Sep 28 2010

    of all these childhood country games, my most fav was 'Mara Manga' or 'Mara Kothi', later in the urbanized version of the same we used a spiral ladder (which can still be found on the long corridor of St. Aloysius highschool that leads to the chapel) in lieu of tree.

  • Shilpa, Mangalore/Dubai

    Mon, Sep 27 2010

    Yeah!...those childhood days were so wonderful!....miss those days very badly...your article really made me nostalgic....todays kids are just couch potatoes playing either computer games or video games...its really sad !..but you cant blame them...we elders need to encourage our kids to play outdoor games!...NO TIME!...THATS THE EXCUSE WE GIVE THEM IN THIS BUSY HECTIC LIFE!

  • apr, MUdarangadi/Dubai

    Mon, Sep 27 2010

    Very nice article

  • zeena naveen,

    Sun, Sep 26 2010

    Most of the time when we have family gathering in Dubai,mostly we play Huli-dana,belchendu....people around us watch like a tournament........very funny days

  • Clara Lewis, Kemmannu/Dubai

    Sun, Sep 26 2010

    Nice article, along with all the above traditional games we use to play Kho Kho, ring, gellu aata,jokalleh(rope tied to branch of the tree) dolls wedding(made with peice of cloth),cooking game with coconut sells, leaves and sand. Making house(Igloo) with wet sand.

  • Rajesh Devadiga, Mangalore/Nigeria

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    Well done Mr.Anil,
    I really like you article, and surely you will get much more knowledge by the reader's(Local).I have also played kutti donne,Gholi,Kanna Muche,Mara Mange,Lagori,Kabbadi,chenna mane,Jibli,Illata,donka riding,pathunata,High throw-pie throw,Beeja raja etc.......

    That days are unforgettable in my Life time....
    I will teach that to new Generation...

  • Joseph Dias, Mabukala

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    Very Nice article. I recall another two games called "Benn Chendu" and "Hirup" played with Tennis ball or any rubber ball. Please along coastal side between Kundapur and Brahmavara must be knowing these games

  • Ahmed, MAngalore / Doha

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    there was one more game we used to play in mangalore called as ko-ko

  • Ashok Bhat, Mangalore

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    Very nice article which will take all of us to good olden happy days. Appriciate for those who are responsded to this article. I still would like to add some more traditional - Goli, Kambada Aata, Aajji Aajii yenu Hadukutti? Sujji, Mara - Dhada, Toppia Aata, Kannu Muchhale, Kaddi Aata etc,, All these sweet memories with all thise sweet friends....! Shall we go back to olden days and carry our happy life...

  • Richie, Doha

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    Does any one rember this..Kanna Mucche, kade Gude.., Abba Ibba Muaa Muduka..., Alpin dalpin..,I saw three..We used to do this before starting any games, just to find who is the first one to start

  • Dolphy Paul, Mangalore

    Sat, Sep 25 2010

    Dear Anil,
    Thanks for your NICE article in the subject. We all now in age group of 30 have been a part of one or the other village game. I'm very much honored to tell that we 4 brothers & sister along with our family members and kids in DUBAI play these games (Lagori, Touch the wall, Dog in the bone) every Friday evening in one or the other parks or clubs and enjoy and cherish the richness we have. More over during EID holidays when we play these games in public parks the international community will just gaze…. And enjoy the way we play.
    Keep growing our cultural richness.

  • Joyson, Mangalore

    Fri, Sep 24 2010

    Nice article. I also enjoyed shooting with 'Petla' during the rainy season. We would ride the cows to hills and gather 'mundida kayi' which is used like a bullet in Petla.

  • Irene D'Souza, kirem/usa

    Fri, Sep 24 2010

    We used to play 'POKKU"-need 5 small stones, and how about our "KERE-DADA"(RIVER-SHORE),"HIDE & SEEK" , 'LADDU LADDU THIMMAYA YAARIGE KODAYA" ,"HULI DANA"( ILLI ONDU DANA BUNDIDEYA( all seated in a circle with a cow inside the circle and the HULI chasing the cow outside of it trying to get the cow) of all those childhood favourites? It was so much fun.
    Irene D'Souza.

  • Clifford D'Mello, Kundapura, Bahrain

    Fri, Sep 24 2010

    Hi, Anil, Nice article. You forgot about Gudna Aata ( game of 5 pebbles)

  • Janette D'souza, Mangalore/Abu Dhabi

    Fri, Sep 24 2010

    Very well narrated Anil. You sure have a funny bone inside you. Particularly liked the idea of making 'idlis out of wet soil' exactly like we sold coffee powder out of black soil and tea powder out of red soil. Then there was another game, all the children from the neighbourhood, jump on the branch of a tree and one person would act as a driver shaking it continuosly indicating that the bus was on the move all the time shouting "10 paise, 10 paise, to Bomboy (Bombay)" Those were the days!! Oh how I miss them! If only somebody could bring them back!! Then there was another game, I don't know, if anybody knows about it. It was called "ladoo ladoo timaya".

    It is the same game as the old Arab game " tag tag tagiye" where children sit in a circle and one with a piece of cloth runs/walks around them and puts that piece of cloth behind one of the players sitting in a circle. The ones who are sitting are not supposed to look back but are somehow expected to know whether the cloth is behind them and then it is their turn to run around the sitting players all the time shouting 'ladoo ladoo timaya' and the players who aresitting replying 'yaarige kodaya?" (who are you giving to?)
    By the way, Lagori was my favourite game of childhood.

    Keep writing Anil. I simply love your articles and your style of writing. All the best.

  • Philiph D'Souza, Yelluru/Doha Offshore

    Fri, Sep 24 2010

    A very nice article. I would like to include Petla eventhough it is not a game as there is no competition involved. It is popular during Deepawali season which gives the sound of crackers but with natural things involved.

  • rony, mangalore

    Fri, Sep 24 2010

    Nice article, Lagori is one of my favorite game, we must teach this game to new generation.

  • Salim, Dubai / Udupi

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    very nice article by Mr.Anil its reminded my child hood days, you can add some more games like MARA KOTHI,TONKA,BERI CHEND etc.

  • Vivek Dsouza, Neelavar

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Nice write up ... Anil you are missing one more country game...MARA KOTHI...Missing that glorious past. Nice to have a flash back some times....

  • Steven Castelino, Mangalore/Sharjah

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Hi Anil,Nice article.You reminded me of an old song by Mary Hopkins.
    "Those were the days my friend
    We thought they'd never end
    We'd sing and dance forever and a day
    We'd live the life we choose
    We'd fight and never lose
    For we were young and sure to have our way.
    La la la la...
    Those were the days, oh yes those were the days"

  • sushma, USA

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Very Beautiful article ,i always talk to my kids about these games we really miss now i too love lagori thanxs for Mr Anil for all the refreshment May God Bless you .

  • Anitha, Brampton/canada

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Hey Anil Nice article..cherished childhood memories...I think to add up the above games are Ghar aata(usually girls play),zibli,Tonka.Where all neighbourhood children get together and plan their their plays..I reall miss those Days...

  • Cyril Monis, Pangla/IC Colony

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Very nice to read such article, of course all the games which you have mentioned have been played by people of our age and those games did not require any expenses to buy the things. And while going back to our good old memories, there were enough children in all the neighbourhood whereas nowadays very difficult to find one.We used to call Puro-Puro the one you call Chol-Chol. I hope to see those good games&days to come back, but I think it will be only a dream which shall never be true.

  • Austin Santhosh, Haleangadi/Bahrain

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Good Article Anil, Thank you very much. Lagori was my most favourite game during my childhood! I still consider lagori as one of the best games.

  • John D'Souza, Moodbidri / Kampala

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    You took me on a nostalgic journey, Anil. Reading the article made me nostalgic. I miss "Billis" too whch we played with whole cashew nutsduring the season!

  • irfan, kundapura

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Nice article

  • adshenoy, mangloor

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Mr. Bulsam,

    You said it all. I couldn't have said it better. It is the life indeed.

  • Peter Dsouza,Gurunja, Shirva,Gurunja

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Hi, havent you played BOGGORI(BUGGORI)!Its a wonderful timepass!

  • Reyan, Kuwait

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    You forgot about JIBLI i guess, Considered as Girls' game but I liked to play. Nice article.

  • Shalini Pinto, Mangalore / Nottingham, U.K

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Good article Anil, I used to play Lagori when I was younger, also Jibli- an outdoor game played barefoot (easier to kick the tile)- drawing four square blocks and starting from out of one block kicking flat tile around within the three blocks & when the tile reach the fourth block kick it out of the boundary & then the 1st round is completed. If the tile goes out out of any boundary of the block the person is out & the opponent takes the turn to play.

    Good game to play not worrying about the ball being hit on neighbour's window or hurting opponents.

    Still given a chance would want to play it. I dont know if anyone still plays it, if someone does please publish it. Thanks Anil for reliving my younger days.

  • Vincent Menezes, Halealve- Piusnagar - Kuwait

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Very nice article Mr.Anil, i also played Chol-Chol,& Mar Kothi, Goli, Kabbadi,Kho-Kho miss my child days the most, holidays were so awesome.very thing changed now.I see children these days dont play outdoor games, sticked with TV. Cheers all the best..looking forward for more article from

  • Dr Ayesha Nishma, Mangalore/USA

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Dear Anil, you refreshed me by this article. Last week I was in my native place for a week holiday to celebrate eid together with my rest of family. We played lagori, Jubily, many many our child hood games and it was so amazing to refresh to your body, mind and of course our soul as well. I donot have any word left to explain how me and my kids enjoyed...and my kids were (who bought up in USA) asking if we have so rich traditions like this, why we staying in concrete jungle?!. But they don't know some black stains in our soceity (like communal tense)which created by some evils. Anyway our native place is always remember in our life's so called "busy" hours. God bless all of us.

  • indian school wadi kabir, muscat, muscat mangalore

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    We play lagori in our school.very good game! we enjoyed!

  • Bulsam, Mangalore

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    I had experienced both African Masai tribal type of living with bullock-cart for transport to Yo! Manhattan type of ultra-modern super-fast life style. In the end I found the former one was more healthy, exciting and closer to the nature. It had tanks & brooks with tadpoles & fish as splash-pool, grasses/shrubs & flowers with butterflies, dragon flies & insects as club-lawn, trees & palms with birds of paradise & eagle as bird-sanctuary, hills & jungles with meadows & animals as jungle-resort, rivers & seas with opportunity to swim & surf on banana-trunks as Florida-beach.

    All those creations by nature never make you bored nor they get out-dated. People of different belief like with sharing & caring and not as a cunning cut-throats. There is no question of Global Warming or Groundwater Depletion, Polution or Inorganic Food Products. It was simple way of living healthy life style loaded with love & affection.

  • Hani, Mangalore/Addoor/Saudi Arabia

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Nice article Mr. Anil Keep it up !!

  • Ibrahim Muloor, Muloor/Dammam

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    nice article, you can add few more
    games like chiple,palli,beeja

  • Vijay, Bangalore

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Thank you for this nice article. God bless.

  • Nancy, Belman

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    While reading the headline only a big smile flashed on my face. Oh! those childhood days... Jibli, Tonka, Pokku etc etc who can forget.?! Logori is still played in many areas and in Mumbai though place is not enough children manage to play somehow. Looking at them, I refresh my momories.

    In our busy schedule we need such type of articles.....Thanks

  • Bhat, Mangalore

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    Playing kutti donne is not safe! There were many incidents of losing eyes etc in the past.Playing lagori with tennis ball is safe.

  • Lijuvegus, Mangalore

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    It mad me Nostalgic for a moment. Nice article.You did it.

  • jacintha Dcosta, Mangalore/Ireland

    Thu, Sep 23 2010

    thanks for the beutiful have cherished sweet memories of my child hood. Good thought process. keep it up.

  • Antony , Udupi

    Wed, Sep 22 2010

    Very nice article Mr.Anil, i also played Chol-Chol,i miss my child days the most, holidays were so awesome.very thing changed now.I see children these days dont play outdoor games, sticked with TV and P2P.Hope your article will inspire people to send their children to more and more out door games.Cheers all the best..looking forward for more article from you.

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