Games of A Bygone Era
Kicking up a dust storm in the searing heat of summer afternoons, scores of children from every house in the lane gathered over a game of gilli-danda, pithu, stapu or pakdan-pakdaee. Memories of incessant squabbles, partnership conspiracies, falling down laughing and never wanting to go back inside the house define those games. Playstation, Wii, computer games and other games have taken their place, leaving kids pitted against machines, isolated in their homes.
When we think of gilli-danda, pithu, chuppa-chuppi, etc; glimpses of days gone by come rushing back to us. Their rustic charm is lost on kids brought up in nuclear families confined to the security of their homes. Attribute it to the changing culture or to changing modes of entertainment; the truth is that in our hustle-bustle of everyday life, these games got forgotten and tumbled down our list of leisure activities. But there is nothing more rejuvenating than a trip down memory lane.
With no satellite TV beaming hundreds of channels, group games used to be the sole source of entertainment. Though it is not possible to cover all of them here, here are a few of the most loved ones:
Gilli–Danda: This was definitely the most loved and one which every child played while growing up. Restricted to only villages and small towns now, the enthusiasm of its players once pealed through streets. All it requires is a long stick, a shorter stick (about 3”−6”) tapered at the edges and few or lots of spirited people of all ages. There are two teams, with one team taking turns to bat using the danda and the other trying to catch the gilli. The hitter hits the edges of the gilli with the danda and tries to fling it as far as possible. The score depends on the distance that the gilli covers, measured using the danda. The other team tries to catch the gilli as that means the hitter is out. Also, the hitter is declared out if he misses the gilli three times in a row. It provides hours of fun and also teaches working together as a team.
Image Source: indiansushant.blogspot.com
Pitthu Gram: A game that matches your aiming skills with your swiftness, it is an incredibly exciting game. It requires seven flat stones of different sizes, placed one on top of the other in order of decreasing size. There are two teams, one member from a team starts by hitting the tower or pitthu with a ball and tries to break it. Other players of that team spread over the area and take turns hitting the pitthu with a ball and scatter the pieces. After that the second part of the game comes into play. The team members who scattered the pieces try to put them back together while the other team stops them from assembling it by hitting them with a ball. Any member who gets hit by the ball while trying to put the pieces together is out. Winning depends on which team puts together the maximum piththus and goes on till all team members of both the teams get a chance to start breaking the piththu.
Stapu: More popular among the girls, this game has many variations enjoyed by children around the world. It is played by drawing out a grid on the ground using a chalk or by marking the ground with a stick. Mostly eight blocks are made in the grid; three horizontal ones, followed by two adjacent lateral ones and a horizontal block again followed by two adjacent lateral blocks. Children use a flat stone or coin to play.
Game starts with one person tossing the stone in the first block, taking care not to touch any lines. Then they navigate the blocks two through eight on one leg, jumping from block to block and straddling the lateral blocks with two legs and skipping the block with the stone. When they reach the last two lateral blocks, they turn around and return the same way to the second block from where they pick up the stone and return to their initial position, still jumping over the marked block. The play goes on till all the blocks have been played like this all and everyone has gotten a chance to play. The first one to play all the blocks is the winner. If they step on any of the lines, the stone lands on a line or they are unable to land the stone in the desired block, the person is declared out.
Image Source: liveitoutloud.com
Kanche (Marbles): Also called goti, this game spawned proud collections of numerous and differently coloured kanchas or marbles. The objective of the game is to hit a few marbles on the ground with your own marbles using a particular technique. Whoever is successful in hitting the targets takes the marbles of all other players and is the winner.
Image Source: wheneveridontgetbored.blogspot.com
Chuppa−Chuppi: Every kid had their favourite place for this game, a secret hiding place they would not divulge to anyone. One person is designated as the seeker. The seeker waits for everyone to hide (no peeping allowed) and then hunts down all of them. Each member who is discovered joins the search party till everyone else is found. The first person to be found out then becomes the seeker.
Image Source: prwatch.org
Chidiya Udd: This indoor game required nothing more than a handful of kids wanting to have a great time. One person would take the lead to start the game calling out names of different things, some of which can fly and others that cannot. With everyone placing one finger on a flat surface, they have to raise their finger when the thing called out can fly and if they raise it for a thing that cannot fly, they are out. After everyone is out, the first person out, restarts the game. Calling out names goes on like this — Chidiya udd, kauwa udd, bhains udd, sher udd… It ensures hours of laughter and fun.
Reminiscent of friends of friends and their relatives gathering in streets and starting off games from where they were stopped the previous day, these games formed an integral part of every kids’ growing up before the advent of Satellite TV and other electronic games.
Other games that were equally popular were kho−kho, kabaddi, kite flying, kokalachi paki (a form of ‘I wrote a letter to my mother’) and many more. They drove home the importance of teaming up and sharing, which is increasingly wanting in today’s kids.
Like an ‘Orange Bar’ ice-cream that takes you back to your childhood, revisit it by playing your favourite game.
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