Popular Indian Children's Games


With changes in technology and exposure to new cultures, the games and sports that children play have changed over the years. On the occasion of Children's Day, we look back at games that were once popular with children across India.

There are different variations to this game. In one of them, players dig a small, shallow hole in the ground and draw two lines - one 1/2ft and the other 3ft away from the hole. They position themselves behind the second line and throw a marble into the hole one at a time. The one whose marble lands closest to the hole begins the play. The player collects two marbles from the other players and holds them in one hand. He/ she then throws these marbles together at the hole. The other players select any one marble from those that haven't fallen into the hole and use their own marble to hit the selected marble. If the player manages to strike the selected marble, he/she wins all the marbles in the hole and if the player is unsuccessful, he/she only keeps the one marble used to strike with. Playing marbles is believed to improve strategy building skills and hand-eye coordination.

Lagori is played by two teams in an open area. A member of one team throws a soft ball at a pile of stones to knock them over. This team is known as the 'seekers'. The seekers now disperse in various directions. They now need to try to restore the pile of stones while the other team, known as the ‘hitters’, tries to hit them with the ball. If the ball touches a seeker, he/she is out and the team continues without him/ her. A team member can always safeguard him/herself by touching the opposite team member before being hit by the ball. The game is over when the pile is built again and the team screams 'lagori'. The game teaches players that one must not
deviate from one’s aim in life despite the obstacles in one’s path.

In the game of gilli danda, two sticks are used—a short stick with tapered ends (gilli) and a long stick (danda). The gilli is placed across a small, oval-shaped hole in the centre of a small circle drawn on the ground. The danda is used to flick the gilli in the air and then hit it so that it travels the maximum distance. The opposition’s aim is to catch the gilli. If they do so, the hitter is out. Further, if the hitter misses the gilli thrice, he/ she
loses. The hitter’s score is measured by the distance from the place where the gilli is hit and the place where it lands. The distance is measured by the danda.

In this game, one team kneels on the ground in a straight line with every alternate person facing in the opposite direction. The opposition sends in one or more players, who need to avoid being touched by the chaser from the seated team. The opposition’s players can dodge the chaser by running through the line of people kneeling down. The chaser, however, can only run in one direction and cannot pass between the squatters. The chaser can touch the players who are seated to pass on the turn to the teammates kneeling and closest to the player and say ‘kho’ when he/she does so. The game requires quick reflexes and good fitness levels.

The game of kabaddi features two teams occupying separate halves of the ground. The game begins with one side sending one player into the other half to try and "tag" any member of that team. The other team is required to try and surround that player and then pounce on him/her to prevent the player from returning to his/her half of the ground. This goes on until each team member is either caught or escapes back into his/ her half. The team member sent to the opposite half has to keep saying the word ‘kabaddi’ until he/ she returns to
his/ her own half. The game demands strength and agility.

Chess is played between two opponents on opposite sides of a board containing 64 squares of alternating
colours. Each player has 16 pieces - one each of a king and queen, two each of rooks, bishops and knights
and eight pawns. The goal of chess is to checkmate the other king by moving the pieces in ways specified
by the rules of the game. A checkmate happens when the king is in a position to be captured (in check) and there is no way he can escape. Chess is one of the best games to play in order to enhance mental development.

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