Gilli danda, kacha-paani had their own charm

Games of yesteryears are not very popular amongst children of today's generation. Trupti Godbole recalls some of such games she grew up playing.

Playing games in playstations or computers or watching television is the common pass-time activity amongst most children of today’s generation. I wonder if they even know about many other interesting games that one can play in the absence of any equipment or electricity.

I chanced upon the website of Kavade – a toy hive, a store in Bangalore which is promoting Indian games such as kavade (cowrie shells), good old tic-tac-toe board game, marble mazes, and puzzles and so on.

Glancing at their product list transported my thoughts to the days of my childhood. Back then, fancy toys, action figures, expensive dolls, electronic games, playstations and so on were not so much in fashion. Marbles of all colours kept children busy for hours.

Gilli danda

It was fun to aim and hit as many marbles as one could and also win a few, exchange a few, in the process. A simple wooden stick called gilli and a smaller piece of wood called danda, was yet another source of entertainment. This group game saw children striking the gilli with the danda and the others catching it and scoring points. The game could go on for hours.

Such games do not require any equipment that depend on electricity and can be played anytime. Another very interesting game that was very popular during my childhood was ‘lagori‘. Also known as pitthu in Haryana or sitolia in Gujrat and Rajasthan, this game required only a set of seven flat stones and a ball. The game involved arranging the seven stones one on top of the other and one team trying to break the pile and rearrange it while the other team tried to get them out in the process. This simple game was a through entertainment for players of all ages.

Spinning a lattu

Children would show off their skills in spinning a lattu (bhowra or wood top). The recently evolved versions of the lattu, the bayblades, are nowhere near the wooden counterparts in terms of the skills required to spin it. Children of today will never understand the fun in winding the string around the top and spinning it and then letting it spin on the palm.

Hurling ‘sagar gote‘ in the air and by the time it comes down, lifting as many sagar gote from the floor and again catching the one hurled in the air was another game that could go on for hours together. It could be played individually as well as in a group where players could take turns. In case of sagar gote not being available, this game could be played using tamarind seeds too.


I also remember having played ‘kacha-paani‘ with broken pieces of glass bangles. Colourful bangles pieces were strewn on the floor and one had to pick them up one by one without disturbing the rest in the pile. Hopscotch also kept kids busy in the evenings. This again required no equipment and all one needed was a tiny piece of tile and a chalk to draw out the boxes in which the players jumped. Lock and key, tag, chain tag, pillar to post, hide and seek also were very popular among kids and I remember having played them almost all the evenings of my childhood.

Chausar or pat or chaupad, which resembles the game ludo was also popular even among adults in the family who enjoyed the game with guests during festivals. Playing cards, making castles of cards also was quite popular at that time.

Playing with cowrie shells and collecting marbles too was a favourite pass time.  ⊕

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