What was your favourite game as a child? Hide and seek? Lagori? Or Gilli Danda?
Asking the same question to children today evokes very different answers.
“Call of Duty.”
Of the twenty odd children this question was asked to, about seventeen of them listed a video game as their favorite. While twenty children are hardly a sample size to conclude, do we really need proof that children today are addicted to virtual games? Probably to an extent where they’re unsure of what real play is all about.
Summer holidays, and the wonderful sense of euphoria that came along with it seems to be a thing of the past. Keeping children engaged wasn’t much of an issue. They took care of it themselves. Mornings would roll into evenings, and happy, dusty, sweaty and exhausted children would fall asleep before they knew it, tired from all the play, and the heat. Mangoes, swims, hide and seek, gully cricket, marbles, board games, and a host of made up indoor and outdoor games would keep them safe in the short-lived bubble called ‘childhood’. The games changed with the seasons. If summer was all about slurping on juicy mangoes and going for swims, monsoons was about jumping in puddles and making paper boats. Away from classrooms, it was on these make belief playgrounds and through these childhood games that some of life’s most important lessons were learnt, and lifetime friendships forged.
It is that glorious time of the year again. Probably the best time of the year to be a child. When you wake up and are not in a whirlwind rush to get packed off to school with heavy bags and aching shoulders. Instead, you wake up and you are at liberty to be a child. To play.
With hopes of reclaiming those good old days of play, we share some heartwarming photographs of children at play, an increasingly rare sight. How many of these games will you try playing with your children this summer?
1. Kancha or Marbles
From days when how rich you were depended on how many beautifully patterned and colored marbles you owned, this game is all about collecting as many marbles as you can from your opponent. A circle is drawn with a chalk on the ground, and you have to aim and strike at the marbles of your opponent. Every shot wins you another coveted marble.
Played by children all over India, this game is all about aim, balance and fun. Once you’ve drawn a flowchart of numbered boxes on the ground, you have to find a flat stone to aim and throw into those boxes and hop your way through them. The tricky bit is switching quickly between hopping on one foot and both feet, while maintaining your balance.
3. Gilli Danda
Played with a small piece of wood (the gilli) almost resembling a pencil sharpened on both ends, and a longer piece of wood (danda), this game is one of the most played, and adored games in the country. Such is its popularity, even today, that it can even be argued that this game is more favored than even cricket by some. To win the game, you have be the one who hits the gilli to the farthest distance.
4. Chor Police
Another game where emotions tended to run high, given the excitement (and noise) it is capable of generating, Chor-Police is an eventful Indian game. The players are divided into two teams – of chor (thieves), and police. The police have to hunt for all the thieves after which they switch roles and continue the game. For extra excitement, the crime for which the gang is being arrested is pre-decided, and the police come down upon them in the quintessential dramatic Bollywood manner.
5. Hide and Seek/ Chuppan Chupai
Under the bed, in the wardrobe, on top of the tree, or even behind your mother’s pallu – this game helps children imagine the most innovative hide outs. And sometimes, the most predictable ones. But, the thrill of seeking out those hidden and crying “got you!” is unparalleled.
Also called pittu, this game is played by two teams. A pile of flat stones have to be balanced on top of each other to form a tower, at the center of the play space. Then, team one – the attackers, throw a ball at the pile of stones to knock it down. The fun starts once the tower has been knocked, and the defending team has to catch the ball and hit the attacking team with the ball. The attacking team then need to rebuild the tower as fast as they can, without getting hit by the defending team.
7. Lattu/ Spinning the top
The sheer joy of getting that spin right, and watching in amazement as the top transforms itself into a magical whir, is a thrilling childhood memory. From beautiful handmade and brightly painted traditional wooden tops, to the ones with blinking lights – these toys made for a treasure trove for children. And perhaps still do!