Not many know about the world of ancient Indian board games. Pachisi aims to give children a peek into this slice of history.
As a child, Neha Murthy used to play many board games, and Ludo was one of her favourites. But little did she know then that she was actually playing a simplified version of an Indian game – Pachisi. Years later, she decided to take her love for board games further and presented five different board games on fabric as her final year project in college.
“The thought was to revive ancient Indian games. But to do so, I had to create something visually exciting so that it catches people’s attention and they give it a second glance. The idea was to present ancient Indian games in a unique and quirky way so that it created curiosity among people to know what these games were and create interest to play them as well,” says Neha, who specialised in Textiles in her post-graduation.
So she worked on various themes around the games and then got each of them embroidered or/and appliqued with various India-inspired themes. The project, which she christened Pachisi, was a hit!
However, during her project research she found out that not many people were aware of old Indian games. Most knew how to play some of the more popular games such as chess, and snakes and ladders, but very few knew how to play games such as Pachisi and Goats and Tigers.
Which is why, she decided to make people, especially children, aware of ancient games and took up her college project as a full-time job. She started making more ancient Indian games on fabric.
“Digital games have displaced board games and it is about time we reach out to children and help them explore the world of board games. The aim is still the same, to revive old games and encourage people to play them. Initially, I was focusing on ancient Indian games, but now I have been exploring other ancient games as well,” says Neha, adding that Pachisi is all about creating games and presenting it in the most unconventional way.
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Her venture, she says, is a tribute to one of the oldest games of India, which has been part of the country’s mythology and history. “The game of dice in Mahabharata, that sends the Pandavas to exile, is known to be Pachisi. Even the kings and queens of India have played Pachisi. During the Mughal rule, Akbar played Pachisi with his slaves acting as pawns,” she shares.
Started in 2014, the Chennai-based venture has games such as Pachisi/Dayakattam, Chauka Bara, Goats and Tigers, Snakes and Ladders, Chess, and Rota, which is an ancient Roman game.
They also have have Ludo, Tic-Tac- Toe, and Memory Match. The price of the products range from Rs. 400-Rs 1,600.
“Post my graduation; I could have done my board games on any medium. But I decided to stick on to fabric (I use khadi as my base fabric) because not only do they last long but they are eco-friendly too. I love the concept of embroidered games, and it helps my products to stand out in the market. From a customer’s point of view, these are very light to carry and consume very little space for storage,” the self-taught illustrator says.
These games are available in a few stores in Chennai, Bangalore and Goa. To know more about Pachisi, you can check out the website here.