The mood, spirit and soul of Kerala definitely lie in its culture and traditions. Food, Dance, Music and much more contribute to the core traditions and beliefs of the ‘Gods Own Country’.
One such important cultural element of Kerala is the traditional games or the village games of Kerala.
Each of these games are not only action based or physical based, one has to also use their intellect or the logical reasoning power to reach the finishing point in these games.
Moreover these games showcase the true culture, beliefs and spirit of Kerala as it is reflected through the materials used for playing the game and also in the game rules and regulations.
So let’s explore some of the real traditional games of Kerala that are played even today:
One usually sees this game being played by the little girls in the Kerala villages. According to this game a huge rectangle is drawn on the verandah or the courtyard and the rectangle is divided into 8 squares using horizontal and vertical lines. So ideally the rectangle has 4 rows and 2 columns. Each player carries a flat pebble stone or flat piece broken earthen port which is called as the Kakka.
The player stands outside the first column and throws the stone into the first column. One has to ensure that the stone does not touch any boundary line of column. After the stone is thrown into the first column, the player hops on the stone with one leg held up. If the players leg touches down, she is declared out. Once she hops on the stone she is supposed to slide the stone to the next column without the stone touching the border line. This pattern continues till 4th column and back.
The games moves to higher levels of difficulty like the player will have to place the kakku on her head , on her eyes, between the toes and also on her forehead and continue with the game. At the final stages of the game the player has to throw the stone to a particular column and this column belongs to her. Then the other players will have to continue with the game without touching the players column, which is a difficult task.
Thallayum Pillayum or the Nootamkali
This game is also known as the ‘Eerkalkalli’ apart from the ‘Thallayum Pillayum’ or the Nootamkalli. This game is played using the midribs of the coconut leaf which is traditionally known as ‘Eerkili”. As per this game the midribs of different sizes are thrown to the ground. These midribs have to fall on each other overlapping each other. The player should pick each midrib without moving or disturbing the others and keep collecting the others in the similar fashion. If any one of the midrib moves then the player is declared out. The winner starts first in the next round.
The Thalapanthukali is a traditional outdoor game of Kerala usually played during the festival of Onam. The reason the game is called ‘Thalapanthukali’ as a small ball is passed between the players using their heads, which is referred to the ‘Thala’ in Malayalam. There is only one serving and one fielding and small balls made of mud are used in this game.
Kilithattu is one of the popular village games of Kerala wherein an egg is placed in the middle of a square and is to be protected from four men who are trying to steal the egg. The men attempting to steal the ‘egg’ are arranged in four squares drawn inside the larger one. The den, which is permitted to run along the inner lines of the small squares, attempts to touch the men with his hands and feet. If the den manages to touch one of them, that player is eliminated from the game. The game ends when either the ‘egg’ is stolen or the den makes physical contact with all four men.
This traditional game, also known as the Boy and the Cane, is popular in Kerala’s villages and other rural areas. It is strikingly similar to the cricket we know today.
To play this game, you’ll need a round stick and a peg with chiseled ends on both ends. This peg is known as the kutti or the boy. A circle-shaped hole is dug in the ground.
The game begins with a boy hitting the peg, which he raises from the ground above the hole and strikes from a distance. If one of the other players catches the peg, the boy who struck it with the stick is out. If the peg falls to the ground, the player next to it has a chance to hit it into the hole. If it falls into the hole, it is said to have “run out.” If not, the striker can try again with the stick and peg.
The game is thought to have originated over 2500 years ago. The game can be played in a variety of ways.
Though many villages have been converted to cities, children of Kerala still find fun in playing these native traditional games which not only calms down their mind, but also boosts their energy level.