Reminiscing about the games of yesteryear

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We take a walk down memory lane and revisit a few long lost childhood games

Text Credit: Rochelle D’Souza    Photos:   

Every evening after school my mother and her siblings would run home, strip off their uniforms and rush to play. A different game was designated for very month and season. In the windy months they’d make kites; sticking china paper onto broomsticks with mashed rice that they’d steal from the kitchen. In the summer they’d collect their ‘annas’ (old unit of currency) to buy beautiful glass marbles, burrow shallow holes in the ground and played ‘kach’ in a shady patch behind the house. Some days they’d play ‘kuttiyumkolum’ on the beach, whacking sticks up into the air and whacking each other and in the damp months of monsoon, as the rains poured down outside and flooded the front yard, they would sit indoors with all the manjadikurus and cowrie shells they’d picked up on the beach and play ‘chogi’ and ‘pallankuzhi’.

During the summer vacations, while I would be lazing around all day watching TV and skulking around the house, my mother would tell me of all these stories from her childhood and of all the times she and her 12 siblings spent outdoors, soaking up the sun and playing all sorts of games. Celebrating all things nostalgic this month, FWD Life decided to revisit the games our parents indulged in during their childhood, games that today’s millennial probably hasn’t even heard of, one’s that they ought to put down their cellphones and ipads and go out and play.


Kuttiyumkolum (2)

A circle is drawn in the grown and a small stick – the kutti – is placed within. The idea of the game is that a denner (first player) uses a koll – stick – to lift the kutti off the ground and strike it out of the circle into the distance surrounding it. If any of the children (players) manage to tap or hit the kutti, the player who took the first strike from the circle will be out. If the peg hits the ground, then the players next to it has the chance of hitting it towards the circle. If it falls into the circle, then the denner is out. If not, the denner has another chance with the stick and the kutti within the circle. It is believed that this game originated over 2500 years ago.



Though it initially originated in Tamil Nadu, the Pallanguzhi game was widely popular in Kerala as well. It was designed centuries ago to help improve hand-eye coordination and to learn to count. Pallanguzhi requires a wooden board with 14 holes, two rows with 7 holes each. This makes 14 cups in the board. The game needs two players and cowrie shells, pebbles or manjadikuru seeds – used as tokens. The rules pertain a certain number of shells, and each player distributes the shells in each hole/cup. The rules of the game are mainly based on the capture of tokens by the winning player. The player, while putting in his/her tokens shouldn’t have an empty hole after the tokens are over. If he/she gets an empty hole, then the rival player captures the tokens.

Seven Tiles

Seven Tiles (1)

Seven Stones is a game infused with the true culture and charm of Kerala. Seven stones or broken pieces of tile are one over the other and the idea behind the game is to knock down the entire stack. Each player has three chances to hit the stack, and if unsuccessful, has to hand over the ball to the next player.

Kach (Goli)

Goli (2)

Kach is a game played with marbles. Shallow holes are created in the ground and players use their marbles and they have to hit a selected target using the marbles. The winner of the game gets all the marbles for himself.


Gotte (2)

This traditional game is played by both children and adults. This simple game requires 5 pieces of small stones/cowrie shells. Players throw one of the stones/shells in the air and pick other stones/shalles from the ground before catching the one they threw in mid-air. The idea is not do it without dropping the one in the air.

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