In the age of video games and various games on the mobile phones, paandi, nondi and pachaikudirai too coexist. Children are children after all, and they continue to enjoy the simpler things in life. In rural schools across Puducherry, the students continue to play the same games as that of their parents and grandparents.
One of the most popular lunch-time games at many of these schools continues to be “Aabiyan,” or pachaikudirai, which is a game where one person bends down and the other kids take turns to jump over them. Anyone who touches the head of the bent over student or fails to jump over the student has to bend over and let the rest of the children jump over them.
“We learnt this game from the ‘akkas’ before us and they learnt it from their akkas and annas,” one of the students Joshimathi from the N. Jeevarathinam Government Middle School in Veerampattinam explains.
Most parents and even grandparents will remember playing this game. These games have managed to pass the test of time and remain completely unchanged. When I was younger, my mother remembers playing this game even though it was not common for girls to play strenuous games, 70-year-old Kokila from the same town says.
Another game that seems to have been passed down for generations include games played with broken bangles. Each child is given 10 broken bangles and has to exchange with his or her partner until someone has 10 bangles of the same colour.
Whether it is a skipping rope made from the roots of trees or paandi, these traditions have been passed down through generations.
Nowadays children are expected to excel in professional sports and there is a lot of pressure to perform academically. While most of them have a number of extra-curricular activities, they still find time to play these age-old games, especially during their lunch time, a rural schoolteacher said.
“We ourselves used to play the game in our village. Many of us didn’t go to school and so these games were a way to pass time when we were younger. With the television, many people don’t play these games anymore, so it is nice to see that the tradition continues among the younger generation,” Ms. Kokila said.