Kerala, a southern state of India, is not just known for its breathtaking landscapes and delectable cuisine but also for its rich cultural heritage. This heritage is beautifully reflected in the traditional indoor games that have been played in Kerala households for generations. While the rapid strides of modernity have introduced video games and online entertainment, these traditional indoor games continue to be cherished and are often played during family gatherings, festivals, and cultural events.
1. Paramapadham (Traditional Snakes and Ladders)
This ancient board game, which many might recognize as the predecessor to the modern ‘Snakes and Ladders’, has been popular in Kerala for ages. With its roots in morality tales, each ladder and snake in the game symbolizes virtues and vices, respectively. Played with dice and tokens, this game is not just entertaining but also imparts moral lessons.
2. Pallankuzhi (Pit and Seed Game)
Played on a wooden board with 14 pits and tamarind seeds or cowries, Pallankuzhi is a game of strategy and skill. The objective is to capture more seeds than one’s opponent, requiring careful planning and foresight. This game has variants across India but holds a special place in the hearts of Keralites.
3. Kuttiyum Kolum
A game that stimulates both the mind and the hand-eye coordination, Kuttiyum Kolum involves players trying to topple a wooden piece (Kutti) by striking it with another (Kolum). Once toppled, players must then try to intersect the Kolum mid-air with the Kutti. While it might sound simple, the game requires immense skill and precision.
4. Chathurangam (Traditional Chess)
Similar to the international game of Chess, Chathurangam has been a favorite indoor game in Kerala for centuries. The pieces, derived from Indian royalty and military, include Raja (King), Mantri (Minister), and various soldiers. The game is a testament to Kerala’s ancient ties with strategy and warfare studies.
5. Nalukettu (Four Houses)
Played on a 4×4 square board with tokens, Nalukettu is a strategy game where players aim to move their tokens to their designated home bases while trying to cut off their opponents. The game reflects the Nalukettu architectural style of Kerala homes, which have a central courtyard surrounded by four sections.
6. Ashtapada (Eight-Stepped)
Another ancient board game, Ashtapada is played on an 8×8 grid. The game can be considered a predecessor to Chathurangam and is believed to have influenced the creation of Chess. Players use tokens and dice to play, and the game’s intricacies lie in capturing opponent’s tokens and defending one’s own.
In conclusion, the indoor games of Kerala are not just pastimes; they are a reflection of the state’s rich history, cultural nuances, and the age-old traditions that have been passed down through generations. In a rapidly digitizing world, these games remind us of simpler times and bring families together, ensuring that the essence of Kerala’s culture continues to thrive. Whether it’s a rainy day or a festive gathering, the traditional indoor games of Kerala offer a blend of fun, strategy, and nostalgia.