BENGALURU: Ever wondered what was the favourite pastime of people in the days of yore when virtual world was a far-fetched dream? People in general and the royals in particular used to enjoy board games. These board games are now making a comeback and this time you can try your hands at the game played between Yudhishthira and Duryodhana in Mahabharata.
Chopat or Chaupat is a cross and circle game played with dice and is very similar to the game of Ludo. Though the game has several variations, the basic is with six/seven cowrie shells and a cross-shaped cloth-board.
“Just like all other forms of art, traditional board games are a reflection of life,” says Vinita Sidhartha, founder of Kreeda. Kreeda is a Chennai-based organisation that focuses on reviving traditional games. The organisation regularly conducts workshops but this is the first time the group is hosting a public event in Bengaluru. “More than discovering the games, it is their social relevance in the 21st Century that matters,” says Vinita. “All games are based on life experiences.”
Learning about Life
“Chopat, played with dice, depends on chance and stratergy,” she says. “There’s this message that you don’t have control over everything and there are some certain aspects that you can control and overcome by making the right decision. This mirrors life.”
Another example of board-game imitating life is the traditional game of tiger and goat. “This is the game where tigers try to kill and the goat is tied to a trap,” explains Vinita. “Looking at it there is little doubt that tiger will win the game because it is stronger than its opponent but when the goats come together it can easily tackle the tiger,” she laughs. “This game has a community-driven message.”
Vinita was a freelance journalist and as her work kept her busy, her children used to spend time with her grandmother. Her grandmother used to play traditional Indian board games with her children and when she discovered the potential, she started writing stories about them and that eventually lead to the creation of Kreeda.
Nazariya, a city and Delhi-based organisation that promotes folk art and artisans, collaborated with Kreeda to bring traditional games to the city. “It is interesting to note that the game that used to be seen as child’s play is now played by all age groups,” says Raghvi Khurana, founder of Nazariya. The event that was to be held on this weekend has now been postponed to end of April.