Fun & Games for Kids in India

What do kids in India do for fun?

Kids all around the world like to play, and children in India are no different! Some of the games Indian children play will seem familiar to you – board games like Parcheesi, Snakes and ladders, and carom; sports like soccer and cricket; and card games. Let’s look at some of the ways Indian kids have fun.

Cricket, a national pastime

In the United States, many people might say football or baseball is the favorite sport. In India, the most popular sport is cricket. Cricket is similar to baseball in some ways. The ball-and-bat game is played between two teams of 11 players each and the goal is to get more runs than the opposing team.

Cricket was first played in Great Britain in the 1500s and was later introduced in India over 200 years later by the British empire. Today, cricket is the unofficial national sport and India’s team plays against countries including England, Australia, and Bangladesh.

In cities and rural areas alike, Indian children enjoy playing cricket with homemade bats and improvised rules. This kind of street pick-up game is often referred to as gully cricket (gully is the Hindi word for street).

Ancient games, modern fun

Many of the games we play today have been played in India for centuries.

The game of chess is believed to have originated in India in the sixth century (that’s over 1,500 years ago!). Snakes and Ladders has been played in India since as early as the 16th century (today it is played in America as Chutes and Ladders). Playing cards has also been a popular pastime in India for centuries.

The American game Parcheesi is adapted from an ancient Indian game known as Pachisi. Pachisi was invented in India around 500 BC. The name comes from the Hindi word pachis, which means twenty-five, or the highest score that can be thrown.


India is a tropical country, and most homes – especially those in the southern part of the country – are not carpeted. The cool flooring feels good, and it’s useful for playing many games.

One such game is Uffangali. To play, all you need is a smooth surface and a big pile of seeds, dried beans, or small candies. In India, the most commonly used seeds are tamarind seeds, but dried kidney beans, navy beans, or small candies like M&Ms will also work well.

You might wonder about the name of this game. In Kannada, one of the South Indian languages, gali means wind or breeze, and uff represents blowing. So the game probably got its name, Uffangali, because it is a game of blowing.

How to play Uffangali:

  • Heap a few handfuls of the seeds on a smooth surface. The players sit around the pile.
  • During his or her turn, each player blows hard, just once, on the pile of seeds. The goal is to scatter as many seeds as possible away from the pile.
  • The player picks up the seeds that have blown away and places them in a separate pile. Seeds must be picked up one at a time without disturbing neighboring seeds. If another seed is disturbed, the player’s turn ends.
  • The game continues until the entire heap has been distributed among the players. The player with the biggest collection wins.

No toys?!

Many poor children in India do not have toys to play with, so they use their imaginations to play with whatever they can find! Stones, sticks, and other things in nature are part of many favorite games.

Try having your kids spend a morning without using their toys. What kinds of things can they find to do for fun?


Source: Highlights for Children, May 2005