Traditional games chaukA bArA (dAya kattAm), 180716

July 19, 2016

As I led the birding-nature walk for the 3rd Sunday outing, we walked through the village of Jaipurdoddi, adjacent to the Jaipurdoddi Reserve Forest. Walking through such settlements gives me glimpses into lives that are so different from mine…but now and then, there are elements that formed part of my own life, too.

On a concrete path, I saw this design painted.


I posted about it n

my FaceBook page

and I got a lot of information about

the game

from Anurag and Girish.Anurag, who identifies the many lovely wildflowers and plants I see, said, “This is choukA bArA (4-12, literally).” and gave me the Wiki link above. He told me how the game is played: “ Start from one of the outer box, the one you face closest to you, go around the outer border, go into the next box when you come back on the other side of where you started and whoever gets to the centre wins.”

Girish added a more complicated version of the game:"We use to call chukka, bhara (something might be derived from hindi six and twelve). "You can kill the coins. But there is an additional inside square where you can make a pair of your own coins. When you first pair them together, then they are called ToLLU. When you get "2", you can move both of them together and then they become gaTTi. "When it is toLLu, anybody kill one of the coins if they land on the same spot. And if they happen to get '1' in the extra turn, second coin also go home. "But, when it becomes gaTTi, the others can not cross or kill with single coin. They also need a pair of gaTTi to kill this pair. "If somebody wants to cross, they have to spend a night (one turn) in the spot along with the pair. During this if the pair makes one move, the single coin(s) of others will go home. "This used to be to block others from crossing and comes with pros and cons. The major con is, once it becomes gaTTi, it can not be broken into single again. Since its a pair, you always need even number to move. "This reminded me of my granny, my village, my family (when I was young), friends etc." This reminded me of the game we used to play when we were young. It was called 'dAya kattAm". "kattAm" means square in Tamil. dAyam was the "one" in the pair of brass "dAya kattai" or dice, which were four-sided; 1, 2, 3, and blank. Two blanks thrown together counted as 12. We too had this feature of making pairs...but frankly, even then, I found the process (and the resultant slowing down of the game) to be very time-consuming (if one throws a twelve, one can only move the "pair" 6 spaces!)

Anurag and Girish, enjoyed the game without even playing it! Aravind, I’m glad you enjoyed this game, too.