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.