15 classic Indian childhood games you can play outdoors to tempt your kids away from the virtual world.
Lagori, Kancha, Gilli-danda, Kho Kho – recognise any of these names? If you’re in your 40s or 50s, the mere mention is bound to evoke nostalgia for summer days spent playing outdoors with friends. If you’re in your 20s or 30s, your parents and grandparents could tell you a tale or two about the magic of these childhood games.
But will the children of this generation have the same memories? Most likely not, because many of them spend their time playing video games in a virtual world. This addiction has brought the classic Indian games mentioned above, and many others, to the brink of extinction.
So here’s a list of 15 such forgotten games you may want to try playing with your friends or children:
1. Lagori or Pithu
A very popular game among kids in India at one time. It involves a ball and a pile of flat stones (which are stacked on top of each other). One member of a team throws the ball at the stack to knock the stones over. The team then tries to restore the pile of stones while the opposing team ( known as the hitters) throws the ball at them. If the ball touches a person, he is out and his team continues without him.
Played by: two teams, any number of members.
2. Kancha or Marbles
This is still a popular game among kids in rural areas. The game is played with round glass marbles and the motive is to collect as many marbles as possible by shooting and striking other marbles with the ones you have.
Played by: any number of people.
Chain is another classic children’s game, although it is losing popularity now. The game consists of a ‘denner’, whose aim is to catch the other players. Once the denner catches a player, the player becomes part of a chain(which is formed by holding hands) and then has to help the denner in catching the remaining players.
Played by: any number of people, usually not more than 10.
4. Gilli Danda
Gilli Danda is a game very similar to cricket and baseball; its popularity in India once rivalled that of cricket. The game is played with a small piece of wood reduced on both sides known as gilli and a large piece of wood that is used to hit the gilli known as danda. The aim of the game is to hit the gilli as far as possible.
Played by : two teams, any number of players
5. Kho Kho
The game consists of two teams, who are required to chase down and tag the players of the opposite team to win the game. The chasing team sends out nine players onto the field, who sit in a straight line with alternate players facing opposite sides. The chasers have to make sure they catch the runners (who enter the field one at a time) before time runs out.
Played by: two teams of nine players each
Lattoo is a game that involves spinning a wooden top (lattoo), which has grooves in it lower half and a nail at the bottom, on which it spins. A thick string is wrapped around the grooves on lower half and pulling the string makes the top spin.
Played by: one or more people
7. Hopscotch or Stapoo
Hopscotch is a popular playground game in which players throw a small object into numbered spaces of a pattern of rectangles marked on the ground and then hop or jump through the spaces on one or two legs to retrieve the object.
Played by: one or more people
8. Chhupam Chhupai or Hide-n-Seek
Hide and Seek is a popular children’s game in which players hide themselves in a marked area, to be found by one or more seekers/denners. The denner closes his eyes and counts till a certain number, after which he tries to find the hidden players.
Played by: any number of people
The game is the Indian equivalent of the western game “Tag.” There are two teams in the game – one team of thieves (chor) and the other team of sipahi (police). The sipahi try and catch the chor, after which the turn changes (that is, the chor become the sipahi and vice versa)
Played by: two teams, any number of people
10. Four Corners
Four corners is a game often played by primary school children. Four corners are designated, and a player is chosen as being “it”. The remaining players have to swap corners without being caught by “it”. If a player is caught by “it” or is without a free corner to stand in, he becomes “it”.
Played by: 5 people
Kabaddi is an Indian origin game that was on its way to extinction, but is now regaining its popularity. There are several forms of the game, but most involve two teams of seven players each, who have a designated area of their own. Players have to raid the other team’s area and try and touch one of their players, hence making the touched player “out.”
Played by: two teams of 7 members each
12. Dog and the Bone
The game consists of two teams, and an object such as a bottle or handkerchief, etc., which is designated as the “bone.” A player from each team comes forward and attempts to take the bone (placed at the centre of the playing area) back to his team. The player who fails to take the bone has to go out of the game.
Played by: two teams of usually 5-10 members each
13. Maram Pitthi
A game very similar to dodgeball. It consists of two teams, who scatter around in a large area. Players from a team try to hit players of the opposing team with a ball (usually made of sponge). Once a player is hit, he is out of the game. Passing between players of the same team is also allowed.
Played by: two teams, any number of members
14. Vish Amrit
It is the Indian version of the game “lock and key”. The aim of the denner is to touch the other players, giving them vish. As soon as vish is given the person stays there until teammates come to give him/her amrit. The game ends when all players have been caught and there is no one left to give amrit.
Played by: any number of players
Langdi is a popular childhood game, especially in the state of Maharashtra. The game consists of two teams, and the team that wins the toss defends first. The opposing team sends a player to tag as many defenders as he can, while hopping on one foot. The team that tags the most defenders wins.
Played by: two teams, 12 players each