A group of men stood around an open ground at Gothuruth on a Thursday evening. Half of them tried to topple a pile of stones at the centre of the ground with a soft ball, while the other half ran around trying to protect the pile.
The men were playing a game called ‘attiyeru’. Watching them were hundreds of people gathered to take part in ‘Golympics’ – a tournament of traditional games of Kerala.
‘Attiyeru’ is one among the many games that Kerala’s children grew up playing years ago, until sports like football and cricket took over. ‘Golympics’ was an attempt by a group of management professionals called Synergians and The Gothuruth Sports and Arts Club to preserve the old games and teach them to the younger generation. The interest in the games was evident at the event as children as young as six years old were seen observing the adults at play and setting up their own little games by the side.
The tournament included games such as ‘pakida kali,’ ‘neelamvar,’ ‘podi kali,’ ‘500 eru,’ ‘choonda idal,’ and ‘naadan panthu.’ The contests were held in separate categories for children, women and men.
The most enthusiastic of the lot were the senior citizens. “Men above 80 years participated in the event with great enthusiasm. That was one of our reasons for coming to Gothuruth for the event. The island village has many old-timers who preserve the traditional knowledge and are enthusiastic about preserving the culture,” said Sijin B.T., president of Synergians.
Mr. Sijin said the group was also working to document the knowledge and rules of the traditional games.
“Many of these games are present all over the world. They have different names and slight variations in the rules. ‘Attiyeru’ is called ‘lagori’ in Hindi and ‘seven stones’ in English. It is played widely. But we found that the strategy and rules behind the games are well-developed in our country,” he said.
Next year, the groups are planning to organise a bigger tournament over two or three days.