Roll the dice to discover ancient India through a games conference
Experts will discuss the sociological and historical relevance of games like Pallanguzhi, Chaupar and Ganjifa at the National Conference on Ancient and Medieval Indian Board Games, in Mumbai.Updated: May 20, 2019 17:23 IST
- When: June 1 to 2, 8 am onwards
- Where: Prabodhankar Thackeray Krida Sankul, Vile Parle (East)
- To register, go to instucen.org
It’s surprising what you can learn from the games of the world. Mancala, for instance, is one of the oldest games we know of, and is still played in Africa. Pallanguzhi is played in southern India. Somehow, they share the same rules, which involve moving seeds or pebbles around a game board, inspired by the act of ‘sowing seeds’, according to archaeologists.
If you’d like to know more, researchers and board game creators from across the country are coming together at a conference next week, to bond over just such details on the history and relevance of ancient board games.
Playing with the Past: The National Conference on Ancient and Medieval Indian Board Games is being organised on June 1 and June 2 by the India Study Centre (INSTUCEN) Trust, to discuss the historical, cultural and sociological importance of games that are slowly dying out.
“Games in India have always had a deep cultural and religious context,” says Raamesh Gowri Raghavan, director of the conference. “Snakes and Ladders in its traditional from is called Paramapadam or ‘Steps to Heaven’ and symbolises reaching God through virtuous acts or going down to hell because of vices like greed.”
A two-hour session called the Games Parlour, will also let you try your hand at ancient games like a 361-square traditional version of snakes and ladders, Chaupar and Pachisi, the dice game that features prominently in the Mahabharata, and Ganjifa, the ancient card game of Orissa.
“Games have been found etched on walls and floors of temples and caves in areas like Hampi, Ajanta and Ellora,” says Dnyaneshwari Kamath, an associate at INSTUCEN, a non-profit that studies Indian archaeology and anthropology, and co-director of the meet. “While the rich played on wooden or metal boards, the poor just etched patterns on the floor and used seeds and broken sticks.”
The two-day event will see the participation of Indian board-game companies like Ramsons from Mysuru and Kreeda from Chennai, who will discuss the revival of ancient games and their relevance today.
“A lot of these games are excellent for developing mathematical and management skills. They require you to strategise, calculate and work on your motor skills as well,” explains Vinita Sidhartha, founder of Kreeda. She goes on to add that the beads used in these ancient games were also great stress-relievers. “In the world of fidget-spinners and stress balls, ancient games like these still stand a chance of making a big comeback,” she says.
First Published: May 20, 2019 17:23 IST