Monday, December 2, 2013


When was the last time you played Goli on the streets of India ?
When was the last time you got tired hopping in a game of hopscotch ?
When was the last time you played a game of strategy and plotted your victory ?

Experience these games in many ways through 
a performance duet inspired by traditional Indian games
at Atta Galatta bookstore, Koramangala Bengaluru
at Alliance Francaise, Banjara Hills,hyderabad

Through performance and storytelling Re:play is a game that is played with the audience between the audience and within oneself.

The performance is an immersive experience of the sounds rhythms patterns structures colours and narratives that traditional Indian games lend themselves to. 
This 80-minute journey evokes themes of mythology contemporary events memory Indian history as well as Indian folklore and asks the audience to be present in unique ways. 
The audience becomes part of the performance and through their participation the performance gains a new meaning.

Dates and Time: 

29th Nov (7.00 pm), 30th Nov (2.30 pm & 7 pm) and 1st December (2.30 pm & 7 pm)

6th Dec (7.30 pm), 7th Dec (2.30 pm & 7.30 pm), 8th Dec(2.30 pm & 7.30 pm)

To know more about Re:play and the team, visit: Visual Respiration

To book tickets to this show, visit: Bookmyshow

Sunday, September 15, 2013

An Ode to Kreedaa Kaushalya

Games that were played from sun up to sun down
Those on which, parents never did frown.
They were played with passion and brought true joy
These were not just any old toy.

These were games which challenged the mind
And played where ever a little corner you could find.
They enchanted, entranced and excited the soul
Even if it was just dropping tamarind seeds into a bowl.

The 'gilli' that often made many a child smile,
While mothers spinned yarns, mile after mile.
Board games were not played because people were bored.
But played because they just could not be ignored.

Games give joy, take away pain.
Oh it's great to be a child, or, a child again.
May the creed of Kreedaa Kaushalya grow
And spread far and wide, high and low.

- Kalpana Singh

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Kreedaa Kaushalya - battle royale

The inaugural day, May 10 of Kreedaa Kaushalya, the celebratory Mela of traditional board games organized by Ramsons Kala Pratishtana (RKP)every year since 2005 was the scene of a battle royale with a six year old doing his best to beat his mother at Pagade by attempting to bend the rules a little.
The venue was the RKP’s Pratima  Gallery located above Aamarapali showroom on the Nazarbad main Road.
The six year old decided once well into the game  that he could make up a few rules as he went along  and caught red-handed by his sister, was about to be beaned with an umbrella by  his mother, sending onlookers into peals of laughter.
Then the beastly kid tried another tack. Play two games at the same time.
 The tigers and goats with his older sister and Pagade with his mother at the same time. Rules were flouted with impunity as the kid steam-rollered his way to victory that was suitably crowned by tap on his head by the umbrella wielded by his mother.
The sight of this family having a whale of a time was enough to encourage  another family to sit down and play a game of tigers and goats.
More chaos with  good natured squabbling lent an atmosphere of joy which soon infected other visitors.
The display of varieties of board games , from cloth based ones coffee tables that doubled as pagade and chess board, this was a feast for the ultimate  gamesman or games-woman.
Ranged alongside boards were Kalamkari game board sets of Aadu-Huli, Dash Guti, Chauka Bara, Snakes and Ladders , Solapur handwoven games board sets of Huli-Kuri, Aadu Huli and Chauka Bara, Batik Chauka Bara sets  as well as silk embroidery Chauka Bara sets, Solapur Hand woven Nine Mens’ Morris sets, Kalamkari Panchi sets, Solapur Hand woven Sepoy Mutiny sets and of course a variety of Aluguli sets in rosewood, inlaid onto to  miniature coffee tables and four-handed chess sets.
 This four handed chess set is attributed to Mummadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar III, the Master of the Board.
There was also  a huge at least six feet by six feet chess set that could be folded into squares. The King, Knight and elephant were more than 10 inches tall while the pawns were about six inches tall. All the chessmen were intricately carved  figurines.
There were several other chess boards that were carved with inlay work onto smaller chess boards.
The exhibition and sale of these artistic traditional game boards will conclude on May 26.
Ramsons Kala Pratishtana hopes that the  the next year’s edition of
Kreedaa Kaushalya will include a board games tournament first at the Mysore District level, followed by State level and National level.
The Kreedaa Kaushalya al fresco tournament described at the beginning of this blog was not officially authorised by Ramsons Kala Pratishtana but such was the infectious gaiety that the mini arena does not exclude anyone from taking part.
The only credo is the love for board games  and the only language is the language of the games.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Why Play Games?

If you want your child to learn and also have fun at the same time, that too at a fraction of the cost, play a board game, say experts.

A 2007 study by Carnegie Mellon University showed in a group kindergarten children playing a board game with numbers, such as Snakes and Ladders, helped them improve their performance on mathematical skills.

A board game is a game in which counters or pieces are placed, removed, or moved on a pre-marked surface or 'board' according to a set of rules. Games may be based on pure strategy, chance or a mixture of the two and usually have a goal which a player aims to achieve. Early board games represented a battle between two armies and most current board games are still based on beating opposing players in terms of counters, winning position or accrual of counters.

For majority of board games, any plain flat surface can become a makeshift board game when a game pattern is drawn on it with a piece of chalk or charcoal or a sharp object. Any small enough objects like pebbles or twigs or seeds or bangle slivers can be improvised as game counters while cowries or split tamarind seeds serve as dice. At the end of the gaming session, the board and other gaming paraphernalia are abandoned. Another time and another place, a new gaming session starts with the drawing of a new game pattern. But for games like Chess, Pachisi and Snakes and Ladders, it is quite difficult to prepare game boards by oneself and have to rely on readymade boards and pawns.

Kreedaa Kaushalya 2013 - Brochure

Ramsons Kala Pratishtana

invites you to

Kreedaa Kaushalya
a summer biennale of traditional board games of India

10 to 26 May 2013

10 am to 7 pm

Pratima Gallery
91, 1 Floor, Above Aamrapali Sarees
In front of Reliance Fresh
Nazarbad Main Road, Mysore 570010

T: 0821-2445220. M: 9880111625

A lonesome Sita sitting beneath the Ashoka tree, wakes up from a reverie in which her beloved Rama has come to her rescue. Indeed since Hanuman's visit and his word that he would return with Rama, Sita had been transformed. Gone was the despairing sadness, now replaced with the excitement and anticipation of seeing Rama… seemingly endless wait, an impatient Sita digs up two rows of pits, seven in each. She yanks off her pearl necklace, the pearls drop into the pits and starts playing the solitary game of Sitadevi Ata!

Was the first ever board game an invention of a bored mind? We wonder! What may have begun as a simple race of counters, soon evolved into board games that encompassed the intricacies of hunting, of warfare, of coups and counter-coups and strategies unlimited... all on a board. Migrations of people, conquering armies, traveling guilds all contributed to the evolution of board games even as they incorporated regional elements. Men and women, young and old, even the gods and goddesses, kings and queens, heroes and damsels, witches and villains were not spared from the lure of board. Interestingly, an unwritten rule was that the Kings were never to turn down an invitation to either a battle or a game of dice! There are instances where kings have lost kingdoms, their beloved all in the throw of a dice. 

For instance, the legendary Nishadha of yore was ruled by the handsome king Nala and his wife Damayanti. The kingdom was prosperous and peaceful. Nala's scheming cousin Pushkara with an eye on usurping the throne challenges Nala to a game of dice. Nala loses the game and his kingdom. Banished to the forest, Nala undergoes many hardships and ends up in Ayodhya as Bahuka. As a servitor of king Rituparna, Nala gains his friendship. Rituparna a master of ‘Aksha Hridaya’, the art of rolling dice, teaches Nala (the painting on the cover of this brochure depicts this episode). Thus armed, Nala challenges Pushkara to another game of dice; wins back his kingdom. Happiness thus restored.

This legend from the multi-layered epic,  Mahabharata,  clearly shows that games of chance  are not merely for entertainment  but help forge the mental sinews to face the ‘slings and arrows’  of life!  Games either for two players or more hone the intellect as well as analytical skills, importance of team work, develop  leadership qualities, ’master’ opponents with foresight and forethought  and  strategy. Hence savants, the sages and the seers made ‘game’ playing  an integral part of teaching . Game patterns on the stone courtyards of temples, palaces and forts and even pilgrim shelters of yore are proof that games enjoyed wide popularity.

Game! What wrong did thou commit?
Devious men used thee to gamble.
Be it a race, wrestling bout or cricket,
‘Hit or miss’ itself is a gamble.

‘Kreedaa Kaushalya’ exhibition then is a festival celebrating the tradition of games. It is a mela of colour, incredible forms encompassing most variations of games dreamed up by man for his entertainment, for his enlightenment. ‘Kreedaa Kaushalya’ in its fifth edition is an exotic spread of board games that is a feast for your eyes and will entice the ‘gamer’ in you. Come, be a catalyst in this rejuvenation of our tradition.

Monday, February 11, 2013

International Recognition

A well known newspaper of UAE, The National, on 10 February 2013 carried an article titled Foundation meets demand for traditional Indian board games. We have been featured in it along with Kreeda Games of Chennai and Kavade of Bangalore. Following is an excerpt from the article.

When Raghu Dharmendra visits temples in remote corners of India, he peers at the floor. If necessary, he takes photographs.

Inevitably, somebody will ask him what he is doing. If he has found what he is looking for, Mr Dharmendra points to lines etched into the floor that make up the template for an old Indian board game.

In the olden days before cardboard and plastic, he explains, the floor would have formed the game board.

"And then people will get excited, and they'll talk about playing the game and tell us how it's played," said Mr Dharmendra, who designs board sets for traditional games for Ramsons Kala Prathishtana, a Mysore-based crafts foundation.

Mr Dharmendra's search in India's small towns and villages has yielded him the details of roughly 40 games, 21 of which his foundation has produced for sale. Every two years, he organises Kreeda Kaushalya, a tournament of traditional board games.

Across the country, a handful of individuals such as Mr Dharmendra are trying to revive interest in traditional Indian board games. Many of them are so ancient that they have travelled overseas and, in turn, inspired some of the West's most venerable games.

Pachisi, dating back to roughly the 6th century, gave rise to Ludo. Another game - called Gyan Chaupar in north India and Paramapadam Sopanam in the south - inspired Snakes & Ladders and may have even contributed key elements of The Game of Life, Milton Bradley's 1860 board game.

But board games in the India of today, competing as they do with computer games, television and the internet, are rapidly fading away.

Indeed, some are on the verge of extinction. Mr Dharmendra cites the example of Tablan, of which he has only ever seen two specimens.

"We don't even properly know the rules of this game yet," he said. "There's a rumour of one family living in north Karnataka that knows the rules well. But we haven't yet been able to go there to find them."

The Ramsons handicrafts showroom in Mysore is about 40 years old, but the foundation's efforts to support craft communities was started only in 1995. Its interest in board games began in 2000, spurred, according to Mr Dharmendra, by one question: "Why aren't we able to find the board games we played as children?"

To read the entire article, click here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Traditional Games Jugalbandi

A group based in Mysore, Manvanthara Samooha Balaga along with Kanaka Sahitya Parishat organised a competition of traditional board games - Pagade, Chaukabara and Chaduranga at Vidyashankara Kalyana Mantapa near Gun House Circle in Mysore on the morning of Sunday, 20 January 2013. The event was aimed at popularising the traditional games like Chaduranga, Chowkabara, Pagade and Alagulimane that not only entertain but also are beneficial for mental agility. Many Mysoreans including men, women and children of all ages participated in this annual event.