CHENNAI: M ost of us have fond memories of our elder relatives playing the traditional game of dhayakattam, with the sound of the metallic dice rolling on the bare floor. But how many of us actually took to playing them and still play them today? Similarly, Vinita Sidhartha, the founder of Kreeda Games, also cherishes the memory of playing Pallanguzhi with her 96-year-old grandmother. This led to her setting up Kreeda in 2002 as a way to bring traditional games back to the fore.
“The idea for Kreeda came to me a bit before 2002,” Vinita says. “I saw my children playing traditional games with my grandmother (an age difference of 80 years), and out of curiosity, I started finding out more about the games, talking to people who knew more about it,and built it from there.” Vinita has revived around 15 games and was soon able to sell them to interested buyers. “Well, I literally became an entrepreneur overnight,” she reminisces.
With over 19 different games including Gilli Danda, Chaupad, Adu Puliyattam, Pallanguzhi, Paramapadham, Bambaram, Panch Kone and Goli designed and available for sale, Vinita says that their vision of reviving traditional games has definitely been successful. “Close to a decade ago, when I asked anyone about traditional games, they were surprised. But now it’s different. There has been an increasing interest in learning and playing our traditional games. We have to keep these games alive,” she explains, adding that they include those depicted on murals and artworks on temple walls and floors, which are an indication of their heritage value.
In addition to traditional games, Kreeda also designs games based on Indian stories and traditions. A three-part series game based on the Ramayana —Vanavasa, Search for Seetha and The Battle of Lanka —walks the players through a narrative of the epic. “The battle of Lanka is very special. Sometimes while narrating stories to our children, we skip through the battle part. Even I used to do that! This battle game is a game of cards and even has the details and names of many not-so-famous characters from the story,” she says.
Kreeda also has been able to create awareness by documenting information on traditional games. “We can get a lead for a game from anywhere, even the most unlikely places. The history of some games are unknown and some have many versions, but we do everything to find and get to the bottom of it. I can give you the history, origin and rules of any game!” she beams.
Why play traditional games in the 21st Century? Vinita rues that in a changing social structure where everything involves electronic consoles, face-to-face communication is vanishing. “Games bond people together, it’s not too different from life. Some games develop our motor and cognitive skills, while others develop our life skills. It’s all interlinked and one shouldn’t shun them just because they’re traditional games. Our ancestors were very intelligent!”
A believer in sustainable living, Vinita shares that the games are designed keeping in mind that no harm is done to the ecosystem. Also, a few games like Gilli Danda and Bambaram are designed and painted by local artisans of Channapattna, a small town near Bangalore famous for it’s wooden toys. “It’s a small initiative to provide them with employment. Some of the game coins are also made by them,” she says, pointing to the vibrant game coins.
Kreeda will host a traditional game night in association with Ashvita Bistro at on August 18. For details, call 9941150885.