Ancient games let city's kids connect with their roots and elders

Ancient games let city's kids connect with their roots and elders

While children his age spend their free time browsing social media sites and playing games on their phones, 13-year-old Norris Mathew is busy competing with his grandmother in a game of Pallanguzhi.

Pallanguzhi (Alagulimane in Kannada) is an ancient traditional strategy board game that originated in Tamil Nadu that helps improve math skills and hand-eye coordination. Mathew is one of the many children enjoying traditional games thanks to the efforts of Immaculate Anthony, who has been teaching traditional games to children for the past two years.

Immaculate has taught children over 60 traditional games including Satoliya, Gilli Danda, Pachisi and Tower of Hanoi also called Tower of Brahma, dating back to 400 BC. She teaches these games as part of a two-week-long summer camp. On weekends at the Metro Rangoli Art Centre on MG Road, she also teaches traditional games to anyone who is interested.

“I was an IT professional a few years ago. It was then that my dad fell sick and I quit my job to look after him. My dad passed away due to a prolonged illness. I felt helpless and lost a sense of direction in life. I found a board game of Pallanguzhi that my father had left for me which I never got to play. This led me to realise that relationships are our greatest gift which, if we lose, we can never get back,” said Immaculate.

It was during a train journey from Coimbatore to Bengaluru that Immaculate found some children so engrossed playing with mobile phones that they couldn't even hear their mothers calling them. She called one child and asked him to spot a particular word or an object on the train. Soon, the whole bogie was playing the game. At one instance, when an aged woman responded to her in English, a boy retorted, “Oh! I did not know you could speak English, grandma.”

“It was then that I decided to use games to bring children closer to their parents and their grandparents. I researched for a year on traditional and ancient games, ordered them from traditional artists from across the country and then started teaching them to children,” Immaculate says.

“I love playing the Tower of Brahma, a game that dates back to 400 BC, Country Chess (played by Mysore Maharaja), Sling Shot among others said Satvik Tejasvi, an eight-year-old who is part of the summer camp.

“Let them sweat a bit. This camp reminds me of my childhood where we could play all day during vacations,” said Sheeba Kumar, a parent  who took leave from work so that her son could come for the camp.

“It makes a difference when children come outside and play. If I don’t bring them here, all they do is play video games on the TV and phone,” said Kavitha Kiran, a parent.

“We also have sessions where children and their grandparents come together to play these games,” said Immaculate.
DH News Service

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