Friday, April 8, 2016

G for Games

Welcome to the "Believe it or Not- That's Incredible India!" series. India is home to some of the most astonishing wonders in the world. The rich culture, heritage, food, scriptures, architectural marvels and scores of known and unknown facts come together to create this multicolored melange that is India. Throughout this month, read about the various believe it or not facts about India and know what goes into the making of this incredible country!


Did you know that many of games that we play today originated in India
? The most famous of them is the game of Chess. Chess was being played in India almost 3000 years ago and was called Chatur-anga – meaning four members of an army perhaps referring to the four armies used in the game – horse, camel, elephant and foot soldiers. Apparently, when a clan established new settlements, the game was used to allocate land between clan members!

And then there's the most loved game of Snakes and Ladders. Haven't we all enjoyed playing this as kids? Well, this game was invented in India too.  It was known as ‘Moksha Patam’, and was invented to teach the lesson of karma to children. It taught them how one is punished for wrong-doing and rewarded for goodness as well as the concept of fate. What an innovative to teach such complicated lessons to kids!

The game of cards also originated in India. It was called ‘Kridapatram’. It was a pack of 12 cards each containing a king and 11 subjects. A pack contained a king and his 11 subjects and a general and his 11 men. One set of cards was Ashavpati – lord of horses featuring a king on horseback and the Senapati (general) on horseback. Another set would be Gajapati –king on elephant and Senapati on elephant. Similar cards like Narapati – king of the infantry, Dhanpati – king of treasures, Dalapati – king of the squadron, Navpati- king of the navy, Surapati- king of the divine forces, Asrapati- king of the spirits, Vanapati- king of the forest, Ahipati- king of the snakes, so on and so forth were popular cards. All of them had respective set of 11 cards of Senapati or General.

The game of playing cards was probably invented by sages in ancient times who made a set of 12 cards - every king had 11 followers, thus a pack had 144 cards. The Mughals retained 12 sets having 96 cards. They called it Ganjifa and their sets represented different trades like Nakkash – the painter, Mujallid – the book binder, Rangrez -the dyer, etc. In addition there were also the Badshah-i-Qimash - king of the manufacturers and Badshah-izar-i-Safid - king of silver, etc.

Interesting isn’t it?

Believe it or not- That’s Incredible India!

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