How board games and card games evolved in Indian Culture

How board games and card games evolved in Indian Culture

Indian is among the world’s oldest civilisations and that also means that Indians have been playing board games and other types of indoor games since much earlier than anyone else in the world. Indians’ love for such games is evident from the fact that a majority of Indians love playing these games even today in the age of internet and smartphones. In fact, most of the popular board and card games, such as carrom, chess, snakes & ladders and rummy have all evolved in direct or indirect ways from games historically played in India.

Board Games in India

India was the birthplace of a large number of original board games. The most popular ones among them are Chess, Ludo and Snakes & Ladders.

Chess evolved from Chaturanga, also called Shatranj. Chaturanga is an ancient Indian strategy game. First created during the Gupta Empire in the 6th century AD, the Persians adopted it in the 7th century.

Ludo evolved from Pachisi (also known as Chausar). Originating in medieval India, the game is played on a patterned area that’s shaped like a cross. 

Snakes & Ladders evolved from Moksha Patam. The historical version was based on the belief that virtues were like ladders that helped people climb up, whereas vices were like snakes made people slip down. 

Beginning of Card Games in India

The earliest known card game in India is a game called Ganjifa. Believed to have been brought to India from Persia in the 16th century, this game used to be played in the courts with special cards made of ivory or tortoise-shell. The Mughals were the first to play it in their courts. The cards used by the Mughals even had precious gemstones adorning them. These cards were made by local artisans and the designs often had elements from historical Indian epics such as Ramayana and Mahabharata.

Card Games among the masses

As the game became popular among the royal families, especially the women, common folk also wanted to experience the game. To help them enjoy the game, simpler cards were developed by local manufacturers. These cards were made of palm wood or leaves and began to be circulated among the masses. With time, card games became popular with rummy becoming one of the most commonly played games. 

Western Style Cards

In the 19th century, locally designed cards were completely overshadowed by western-style printed cards. Manufacturers in Europe took advantage of the improvements in printing techniques and exported their products to India. 

How Card Games became popular

Owing to the ease of learning the basics of the games and the fact that the cards were themselves inexpensive to buy, the masses took to these in a big way and very soon various card games spread across the country, At the time when these games were invented, sources of entertainment for the common man were not many and these simple card games help them enjoy some moments of fun with their friends and family.

How Online Rummy changed things

In the past few years, rummy has undergone a major change in the way it is played. Technology has made it possible to play the game online. There are websites and apps like RummyCulture that help rummy lovers play casual rummy for free, and more serious players can even play for cash. 

Online rummy has made sure that people are no longer restricted by the availability of their friends to play, as anyone can play with even strangers. Also, the games can be enjoyed 24×7, hence people need not restrict the games to a particular time of the day.