S. Harpal Singh
Traditional dice games still entice villagers in Adilabad district as much as they did mythological characters in ‘Mahabharata’
ADILABAD: When looking for ‘pastime’ people from villages in Adilabad district that border Maharashtra prefer a game of the ancient ‘chaupat’ that is also known as ‘chauras’ or the ‘pacchees’. The present day game of ‘Ludo’ is based on this dice game that was central to a crucial episode of the epic ‘Mahabharata’ in which ‘Pandavas’ lost their everything as Shakuni, maternal uncle of the Kouravas, successfully cast the dice or ‘pansa’.
In the caves of Ellora in Maharashtra there are paintings that show Lord Shiva and his consort Goddess Parvati playing the game of ‘chauras’. Besides, mention of this game of chance can be found in many old literary works.
In olden days, family members played the game on one appointed day every year. Members of individual families used to form into teams and indulge in it for the whole day, especially in summer months when there was hardly any work in agricultural fields, or during some celebration in the family.
A popular couplet attributed to an anonymous social reformer serves to warn those who nurture the intentions of becoming ‘chaupat’ gamblers. “Tash kare nash aur chaupat kare safaya, satyanash hai hota uska jisne ise apnaya,” it says. In any case, the literary meaning of ‘chaupat’ is ‘turmoil’.
The game is called ‘chaupat’ or ‘chauras’ because of the shape of the board with four parts joined at the centre in the shape of ‘+’ sign.