Gone are the days when we used to create unforgettable memories both indoors and outdoors with our fellow neighbour kids. India is without a doubt a country with rich culture and traditions, and games have been one of the most popular cultural activities that we have experienced a lot growing up. It holds a special position in our hearts as well as our culture. It was always a part of our routine to play these games every day, whether it was during the school break or in the evening when everybody was home after a tiresome day. The excitement of going home after school just to play these games was unmatched.
Regrettably, the fun and excitement of these traditional games have subdued today’s generation, and it now remains our core childhood memories. Because of the generation gap, the children of today barely take their fun activities outdoors like we used to, and their kinds of games have entirely switched as well. Nevertheless, we can always track back and revisit our childhood memories virtually as we will be listing down some of the most memorable traditional games in Odisha.
There is a myriad of good-old traditional games in Odisha such as Thia Puchi, Bagha-Chheli, Kith Kith, Guti, Danga Pani, Bohu Chori, Raja Doli, Guchi Tandu, Gill-Danda, Rumal Chori, and many more. All these traditional childhood games are looming into vanishing from this digital generation. Let us muse over our forgotten childhood memories through this article.
Puchi was an old traditional form of entertainment, mainly for the village girls, before the digital world overtook it. At present, we see almost to nowhere kids of today’s generation playing this game. This game was especially popular during Odisha festivals like Kumara Purnima and Raja, where the communities came together and competed with each other for fun and entertainment. Puchi is divided into two types- Basa Puchi and Thia Puchi.
Thia Puchi challenges an individual to play the game by squatting, where their weight shifts and balances from one leg to another methodically as quickly as possible. On the other hand, Basa Puchi challenges the girls to dance while remaining seated in a circular shape. At the same time, they need to thrust one hand and one leg ahead one after another. This activity generates a certain tempo throughout the body. Puchi can not only be considered an outdoor activity, but it was also a type of physical exercise focusing on core strength and legs.
Doli Khela / Raja Doli
This traditional game is organized and played by the community kids, especially girls, during the ongoing Raja Festival, hence its name. This game is celebrated to mark womanhood in a girl’s life. During the festival, special swings are crafted using ropes and bamboo for the 3-day get-together event. Then the swings are accessorized using beautiful fresh flowers, sparkling clothes, green leaves, and more shiny accessories.
The swings are also created using sticks and bamboo, where more than one girl can sit and ride it at the same time, one by sitting on it as usual and the other by standing. This traditional game was extremely popular back in the day, so much so that the little girls who loved this activity were also referred to as Dolire Jhuliba, which corresponds to being spoiled or pampered.
Bagha-Chheli is a traditional board game that requires two teams with 2 players per team or two people. To play this game, one needs high concentration, prediction, analysis, and planning skills. In other words, it is a traditional game to examine the mental capabilities of an individual. The game is played on a 4-by-4 grid board diagram, which is permanently drawn on the concrete floor of the verandah. Here, a person is required to gather four stones in large size, which will be tagged as Tigers. Meanwhile, the other person requires to collect twenty stones in small sizes, and he/she will be tagged as the goat.
The team tagged as Tigers are the ones to initiate the game. During this game, the challenger’s capabilities are scrutinized by utilising both offensive and defensive tactics. As per the game rules, tigers need to focus on killing the opponent while the goats surround the contender. Every time the tiger jumps over the goat, a stone piece is withdrawn from the grid. The game ends when the tiger manages to kill 5 goats, or the goats obstruct the tigers from moving. This game was so prevalent in Odisha that even the teachers used the game tactics to teach maths to the students. Those who were familiar with the game found it easier to grasp the complexity of mathematics like integers, probability, fractions, arithmetic, etc.
Gilli Danda / Gulli-Danda
Gilli Danda resembles cricket sport, except that this traditional game is recreated using two wooden twigs of different sizes and shapes. The shorter twig is called ‘Gilli’, which is about 3 inches long, while the longer stick is called ‘Danda’, which is about 2 feet long. Hence, the name of the game ‘Gilli Danda’. The Gilli is shaped as a cone with narrow ends on both sides, which is useful when striking it with Danda.
In this game, the biggest challenge and creativity asserts in how far you strike the circulating Gilli skillfully into the air. The Gilli is placed on a tiny oval-framed hole at the heart of a sphere on the floor, around 4 feet in diameter. The player needs to smack the Gilli that is on the ground using the danda, and at the right moment, throw it into the air by striking as hard as possible. In that instant, the player has to run and tap a certain point beyond the circle before the contender retrieves the Gilli.
Kith-Kith is another traditional game that was very prevalent in the olden days not only in Odisha but all across the nation. In English, we popularly call it Hopscotch and depending on the region and area the game has different names. This community pastime requires physical flexibility and is usually played outdoors by the neighbouring streets on a huge grid. The eight blocks are drawn on the floor using chalk or red bricks.
Here, the participants must hop on one foot from the starting block while tossing the tag to the first level. Then, they must jump to the first then to the second and the third until it reaches the last level. Once they reach the final block, they must turn around and hop on to the 2nd block, collect the tag, go back to the 1st block and continue the same process as the initial until the participant lands on the eighth block successfully. The process of the game is done with one leg up mostly, except where there are 2 blocks parallel to each other. Then they can land their feet on both the blocks.
Kaudi Khela is one of the most auspicious games played even in the present generation, especially in rural villages. The history of the game has some influence from the ancient Indian epics like Mahabharata and pre-independence India where cow shells were used as a medium of exchange and served as currency. This game does not have any gambling elements like teen patti and can be casually played with your friends and families.