Thursday, June 21, 2018

Seeta Devi Ata - 1

There are hundreds of versions of Ramayana and in one of the oral tradition of Ramayana, Seeta is seen playing a solitary game on Mancala (Aligulimane or Pallanguli) board. Probably she dug out 14 pits on the ground in the garden where she was kept captive by the villainous Ravana.

Now we know that an empty mind is the factory of devil. Seeta did not want to sit idle, for it will bring negative thoughts in her mind and eventually they will make her life more miserable than the life in Ashokavana, the garden.

Hence she gouged the earth making one row of seven pits side-by-side and another similar row right across the first row. Collecting round dry seeds of red-coral tree she started playing a solitary game in that board. She played on and on and the game eventually is called by her name as 'Seeta Devi Ata'.

This game was taught to me by late Shyamala Garudachar who lived on the first floor of my house. She was an Iyengar lady and her grand children called her 'paati' and we too called her the same. Paati taught me Aligulimane and Pagaday.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Seeta Devi Ata - 2

Seeta Devi Ata is a solitary game in Aligulimane (Mancala, Pallanguli). In oral traditions of Ramayana in South India, it is said that when Seeta was in Ashoka Vana as a prisoner of Ravana, she  played this game.

Mr. Shantaram looks on while his wife Mrs. Asha is teaching us the game of Seeta Devi Ata - 2
If you are alone and want to play a game on your own, this is a great pastime. The original version of this game (let us call it Seeta Devi Ata -1) is slightly different from what is shown here. Another version of this game was taught to me today (17 June 2018) by Mrs. Asha Shantaram. She learnt this game from her late mother-in-law Radhalakshmamma Addepali.  I thank Mrs. Asha and also Radha ajji.

'What is the name of this game?' I asked Mrs. Asha, but she did not remember. Anyhow I am calling this game as 'Seeta Devi Ata - 2'. I will soon post a video of how to play the Seeta Devi Ata -1 which was taught to me by Shyamala Garudachar (we called her paati) who lived on the first floor of our house. 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Collectors' Delight

Ramsons Kala Pratishtana has not only designed and produced regular board games and pawns for day-to-day use but also have designed and produced museum-quality collector's edition board games and pawns. These are sure to be conversation pieces if displayed in the drawing rooms. Of course they can also be used to play, but sparingly!

1. Pagaday - Pacheesi. Kalamkari board, camel bone pawns (seated Mughal musicians) with gold leaf painting and wooden stick dice

2. Pagaday - Pacheesi. Kalamkari board, camel bone pawns (standing Mughal sepoys) with gold leaf painting and wooden stick dice

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Techies drawn to Aliguli Manay, Pagaday

The picture that most commonly depicts a ‘Techie’ or to use a more prosaic term, Software Engineer, is of a young man or woman dressed in uber cool outfits, glued to an iPad or one of those high end mobile phones or more often than not using these gadgets to play a variety of complex games. It seems that this is blatantly untrue!

At the ongoing  Kreedaa Kaushalya, the exhibition of traditional board games at the Ramsons in front of the Mysuru Zoo, it was a pleasant surprise to the organisers to see techies avidly buying the traditional board games like Aliguli Manay, Pagaday and Adu Huli Ata!

Why ?

The reply was astonishing and astounding. "We thought that we would spend the weekend playing Aliguli Manay. and Adu Huli Ata" was the answer.

One of them said, "I have seen this (Aliguli Manay) in my grandmother’s house and recall my mother and other family members playing this game on Sundays. The whole family would gather around the players. It was great fun."

Nostalgia? Memories of grandma’s tales from the past?

"No", replied another. "This is a part of our tradition. I think we should do all that we can, to foster it. And what better way than sitting around and spending an enjoyable weekend day playing it."

Said another, "this game, tigers and sheep or goats... or leopards and cows... who cares... the game is sheer fun. Its tactile.There is communication between the players and their supporters, support that is at once loud and noisy with a lot of back-slapping.”

Adds yet another techie, "Ultra modern computer games do not give us this high."

"The very act of placing the tiger or the sheep and not knowing one misstep could mean ‘a tiger’s meal’ or a tiger cornered... this is fun. Everybody screams as you head towards disaster...” he continues. There is delighted laughter.

Another visitor, a Mysorean by birth and who is currently one of the top honchos of a software company in the USA was in Mysore for a sabbatical with her sons. Hearing about  Kreedaa Kaushalya, she had dropped by with her son. The mother and son duo were drawn to the traditional game boards display at  Kreedaa Kaushalya.

Spotting the variety of Aliguli mane boards, the boy turned to his mother, “Oh, man, that’s mancala, isn’t it ?”

They tried their hand at ‘Choukabara’ and finally settled for “Adu Huli Ata.”

Likewise the husband, wife and little daughter from Silicon Valley in the USA were here in Mysore visiting the husband’s parents. Their evening visit to  Kreedaa Kaushalya led to an impromptu game of Aliguli Manay. The father’s attempt to teach his little daughter to pronounce, ‘Chouka bara’ resulted in the girl pronouncing, "Chouko - baaro”

Peals of laughter rang out as the father picked a choukabara set and exclaimed, "Chou-koo  baaro!"

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Inauguration of Kreedaa Kaushalya 2017

The ninth edition of the traditional board games exhibition, Kreedaa Kaushalya , was inaugurated this morning with the traditional lighting of the lamp by Maharajakumari Indrakshi Devi and Sri R. Raja Chandra at 'Ramsons' the flagship store of Handicrafts Sales Emporium, in front of the Zoo in the city. 

The chief guest Dr. H.P. Devaki, Director, Oriental Research Institute (ORI) of the University of Mysore, released seven new board games that have been introduced this year.

More than 1000 games representing 37 odd games are on display. The exhibition is open from 10 am to 7 pm, daily and will conclude on 14 May 2017. 

L-R: Sri R. Raja Chandra, Prof. D. Srijay Devaraj Urs, Sri D. Ram Singh, Dr. H.P. Devaki and Sri R.G. Singh

L-R: Sri R.G. Singh Sri R. Raja Chandra, Maharajakumari Indrakshi Devi avaru, Smt. Prameela Victor and Sri D. Ram Singh

The layout of the exhibition
Lighting the lamp by Maharajakumari Indrakshi Devi avaru for an auspicious beginning of the exhibition

Sri R. Raja Chandra and Maharajakumari Indrakshi Devi avaru inaugurated the exhibition by rolling the dice for a game of Pagaday

Sri R. Raja Chandra and Maharajakumari Indrakshi Devi avaru inaugurated the exhibition by rolling the dice for a game of Pagaday
Dr. H.P. Devaki releasing the game board of '28 Sepoys' 

Game boards on trays and manays (low stools)

Four handed Chaduranga

A game of Anay Kattu

Collector's edition of Chess men made out of teak wood and painted with gold

A game board of Taabla
Pictures are by Sri Suraj M.N.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Kreedaa Kaushalya 2017 Brochure

It has been over a decade since Kreedaa Kaushalya, the exhibition of traditional board games of India, was first organised by Ramsons Kala Pratishtana (RKP). This passion project of RKP has been through an interesting journey so far.

The alluring world of our traditional games is vast. It was a pair of dice that led Arjuna to be blessed with the Bhagavadgeetha Upanyasa by none other than the Lord Sri Krishna himself. It was Arjuna's eldest brother Yudhishthira's defeat in a dice game match that set the stage for the timeless epic Mahabharata.

Many games over the centuries are forgotten due to sheer neglect. There are a handful of surviving texts that speak of quite a number of games of various complexities. A few games have been disco-vered but with no instru-ctions of play. We at RKP have successfully resea-rched and introduced about 30 games over the past 10 years through Kreedaa Kaushalya exhibitions. This year we have seven new additions to our ongoing project of ancient games of India. These are - Taabla (1), Twenty-eight Sepoys (2), Huli Kallu (3), Basavana Ata (4), Daya Kattam (5), Immadi Huli Kattu (6) and Twelve Men's Morris (7). We have introduced hand-made, recycled-paper boxes for the packaging of games - this is an important feature this year.

The International Society for Board Games Studies, conducts an annual colloquium by inviting scholars to present papers on board games from across the world. We took part in the 19th International Board Games Studies Colloquium last year at Nuremberg, Germany. A booklet containing instructions about how to play games was released in that meet; this is available at this year's exhibition.

In the early 1800s Mysuru saw a quiet cultural renaissance under the reign of Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar spanning over 7 decades. His late Highness, with his profound sense of aesthetics, promoted literature, art and crafts to unseen proportions. It is because of this seer-king that Mysore is recognized as the cultural capital of Karnataka. Many new games were designed and their rules framed by him. The painting which graces the cover of the english part of this flier depicts Mummadi directing a court artist to paint the game pattern of 'Shiva Sayujya Mukti Ata', while the painting on the cover of the kannada part shows Mummadi and his friend Subbarayadasa playing the game of 'Srikanta Sayujya Mutki Ata' which was invented by the former.

Mummadi has recorded popular board and card games of his time, along with his newly invented games, in 'Kautuka Nidhi', the last chapter of his magnum opus 'Sri Tattva Nidhi'. This stands as a proof of his work on these intriguing board games that were once famous among the populace in this land. In fact, Mysuru is the 'Board Games Capital of India', thanks to Mummadi and his passionate work on board games. Kreedaa Kaushalya is an attempt at reviving the tradition of board games which not only impart regulatory and strategic skills to any avid gamer but also great fun and deepens family bonds.

At this expo, Channemane, Chauka Bara, Pagaday, Panchi, Vimana and many more games have come alive on colorful boards made in different craft forms of India. Hundreds of artists from nine states have worked for nearly a year in making this expo a possibility.

Expo is at our 'Ramsons' store in front of Zoo.

Come with your family, friends; enjoy the games and have fun.