KOCHI: Traditional games of Kerala may ‘not-be-worth-it’ for the new gen. But for those who are presently in their 60s and above, it still sparks excitement. For them it was a get-together which brought children from different walks of life, whether rich or poor under one roof, for the sake of a game. Lack of money might prevent a child from owning a branded cricket bat, but in games like ‘Goli Kali’ the marbles used for playing barely cost a penny.
In the hope of enlivening the spirit of togetherness marked by these games, Balagokulam has initiated a project where child contributors compile a book containing details of traditional games. “Children who were willing to travel to different parts of Kerala to research on traditional games were selected for the project. They were also allotted the work to find out the rules which were prevalent in olden days,” says Balasankar Mannath, an adviser to the initiative.
The details collected will be handed over to the committee comprising Kavalam Narayana Panicker and other known scholars and office-bearers of Balagokulam. The final selection will be done by them. The book will be released in July as part of the 37th anniversary of Balagokulam. Most of the games were played differently in different places.
“Players used to change rules according to their whims and fancies, making it easier for them to win the game. If grown up children were playing with tiny tots, these flexible rules often used to benefit the former, who tactfully made the little ones believe them,” says Balasankar.
While playing ‘Chembazhukka’, a game played by elders and small ones, in some places they played with a 5:5 ratio of players while it was 5:2 at other places. ‘Konni Kali’ is played by drawing rows and columns on the ground into which one throws a stone and hops towards it. In some places, instead of following the stone, the player hops to catch hold of his rival player. “We had our own games. Influenced by the British culture, a whole lot of changes took place and traditional games fell prey to this transformation,” says Balasankar.
We had games like ‘Thalapandh’ that could match modern day sports like cricket and wrestling, he adds.“People are crazy about cricket. They watch it for hours together, munching junk food which is only an exercise for the mouth and not for their body. Once they get to know more about games like these, they would have more options for outdoor activities,” adds Balasankar.