The Tribal Games of Nilgiris


Adivasis are Indigenous people belonging to mountains, forests, and other terrestrial areas. They mostly live as foragers and as tribalistic sedentary communities. They can also be called as ethnic minorities. This kind of tribal communities are found in various parts of India, especially Andhra Pradesh, Gujarat, Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Odisha, West Bengal, Northeastern parts of India, and Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Their origins could be traced back to Indus Valley Civilization. 

In Tamil Nadu, the scenario is far different. They are no more foragers. It is interesting that they have settled in their own native lands and are finding methods and modes to lead their life. The tribal communities that are still existing are found in parts of Ooty, and Nilgiris. According to the Tamil Nadu forest department, 7 tribal communities, Toda, Kota, Kurumbas, Irulur, Badagas, Paniyan, and Kattunayakan, have been identified as Primitive Tribal communities belonging to Nilgiris. 

As we can imagine, they had their own games and practices of worship. Several practices and games are now forgotten because of European colonization and its aftermath, development of technology, and many other reasons. It shows our cultural and ethnic degradation. It is high time for us to preserve them. The act of protection and security comes only from the feeling of oneness, that is what we call Vasudheiva Kutumbakam in Sanatana Dharma. 

Few Remnant Games:  

The Toda tribes celebrate a festival called Modhweth mostly at Muthanad mandh. It is a test of strength. Almost all 14 clans get together at the (17th century) Moonpo temple of their deity Thekish Amman. They pray for their wellbeing  health prosperity and rains at the temple. An 80 Kg greased stone should be carried over the shoulder and thrown behind. It is a challenging job. Youngsters test their skills here. Earlier, it was what made a youngster eligible for a marriage, but now it's only a game of skill. This practice earlier prevailed only in Greece and was called the Atlas stone. 

Games like the Knucklebones were played by the Badagas. Though we did play it on the meadows near the house in the evenings and holidays, Knucklebones is rarely now played. It can said that this game is lost forever. 

They also played a game similar to the Pallaanguzhi and also ludo (or Thaayam). Knucklebones or 5 stones was one of their favorite games.  Other games were tops, gili, marbles etc. 

Mostly girls played seven squares (hopscotch) too. 

Badagas also sometimes play the lifting stones and also the ‘oiled post’ or Vazhukku Maram and Uriyadi on a particular festival.  


Adios Sardar of Spin