Good Old Games In April

The Sinhala and Tamil New Year is a national festival that has been celebrated for years from ancient times. It is here that the people get together, celebrate, play and have fun. In this new era with technology at its peak, people have almost forgotten the beauty of these festivals. Let us pause for a moment from this digitized environment and experience the real happiness with the entire village, united as one family.

The games (Jana Kreeda) are one of the most pronounced areas of this New Year festivities. Most of these are getting extinct since these do not get any priority in the society. Sports which are introduced from other countries are highly spoken of, but the beautiful games with really interesting rules that were introduced by our ancestors are slowly being sunk deep into history.

The New Year games can be categorized into two types, as indoor and outdoor games. Almost all the indoor games are played on the floor. Among the indoor games, some of them are Olinda keliya, Pancha keliya, Cadju dameema etc.

Pancha Keliya

This is one of the most famous indoor games. It has elements of Ludo-type games, in as much that you both start with three men and you win by getting all three 'home'. The board is unusual, in that it is not a 'circle', rather it is a track of 31 spaces, with some spaces marked as castles and you are safe from being sent home on them. To start the game one has to put a 6, 5, or 1, and also if these special numbers come there will be another chance to throw the dice

However the famous and more entertaining games are Pillow fight (Kottapora),Tug-o-War (Kamba adeema), Raban gaseema, Pora pol gaseema, Kanaata kiri kaveema, Kana mutti bideema, Climbing the greasy pole (lissana gahe nageema), Placing the eye on the elephant (aliyata aha thabeema), Eating buns (Banis keama), Going on the swing (Onchilla padeema) etc. These are the pre-eminent outdoor games.

Tug-o-war (Kamba adeema)

Tug-o-war is very popular among the youth in any awurudu event. It’s a perfect opportunity to demonstrate physical strength to the onlookers, as the players divide into two parties and attempt to draw a rope held by the two ends by each group onto one side completely. Some sort of cloth indicating the center of the rope is usually marked at the center to find the winners. The surrounding erupts with much laughter as the groups end up ploughing in the mud more than often. At certain times there’s the occasional individual who is pulled completely over to the other side, while clinging on for his dear life. There is no age or gender barrier, as anyone can lively engage in this game, as long as they are physically fit for it.

Breaking the pots (Kana mutti bideema)

Breaking the pots while blind-folded or simply known as “Kana mutti bideema” is one of the main highlights of an awurudu event. Here the player is blind folded and turned around several times before he is allowed to move forward to the rope, where pots are hanging from it. One pot is filled with some sort of treasure, mostly sweets and the others with water. The player will be given a wooden beam to his hand, the goal is to break the pot with treasure, the ultimate jackpot. This event is filled with much fun and laughter as usually a majority of the players miss and the onlookers enjoy vastly by shouting out fake directions to him, while escaping his strokes. Though no one usually gets hurt, it is wise to play this with caution especially when involving youngsters. There is a tendency to get hurt either by stumbling or getting hit when the beam is swung.

Climbing the greasy pole

This is a game which is very much interesting to the observers but the players have a hard time with grease all over their bodies. The pole generally is a puwak tree which is polished and then grease applied. A flag is fixed at the top of the pole and the mission is to climb the pole and get the flag. The players with full of energy race up the pole but in no time slide down unable to grip firmly. Normally towards the latter end competitors find it easy with all the grease being wiped by the initial players.

Raban gaseema

The beats of the Rabana go hand-in-hand with the commencement of any “Awurudu Ulela” and plays an important role among all the other games. From our younger days we have heard many traditional beats played by the Rabana, “udin udin wara peththappu, dontha babakkata denna deyak natha…” and so on. While the beats of the Rabana livens up the event, there is also a special competition where the Rabana is played by teams, challenging others with various new beats and synchronizations. This game is mostly popular among the elderly crowd. It’s not an uncommon sight to see groups of grandmothers and grandfathers get together around the Rabana, and play to their hearts content. As the beating of the Rabana is considered to herald positive energies, it’s not only used in Awurudu events but also a much valued event in traditional weddings etc.

The unity of the people is greatly preserved and uplifted by these games, also the small misunderstandings of the past are eliminated, and everyone regardless of age can take part in these games. So let us all step forward and learn these games and play them, and give a hand in uplifting them in Sri Lanka so that this will be passed down to our next generations also.

We, MoraSpirit believe “Unity is the Strength”. So we all are ready to get examples from our traditional games and be united as one. Hope this New Year will uplift the unity, peace and happiness all over the world. There is a bunch of wishes from MoraSpirit to all of you for a VERY HAPPY & PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR!


Article by: Dilshan Fernando

Edited by: Janani Kulasekara

Sponsored by: Millennium IT

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