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Old Folk Games of Tamilnadu

Old Folk Games of Tamilnadu

Life of village folks is being transformed due to various reasons. To safeguard the multiple aspects of the cultural life of people, the study of folklife is becoming more critical.

Generally, folkgames can be divided into indoor games and outdoor games. Games played by women and infants come under the first class and games played by men and children come under the second class.

Based on sex and age, games can be divided as follows:

  1. Games played by men. (above sixteen years)
  2. Games played by women. (above sixteen years)
  3. Games played by children. (eight to fifteen years)
  4. Games played by infants. (till seven years)

The above classification is a general one. They can be further classified as follows:

  1. Sets of physical skills.
  2. Games of mental skills.
  3. Games of chance.
  4. Games of amusement.
  1. Games played by men


  1. Games of physical skills

Games of physical abilities are mainly outdoor games. It can be divided into three types.

    • Heroic games.
    • Games centred around physical skill
    • Sports-related to physical ability
    • Heroic games

Since these games are played at the stake of one’s life, they are termed as heroic games.

The competition that arises from the heroic games can be divided into two categories. The match between man and animal (e.g., Jallikattu) and the competition between men. (e.g., silambam).

Just like modern-day cricket, these games are played by few and seen and enjoyed by many.

    • Games centred around physical skills.
      • Sadugudu/Kabaddi
      • Ilavatta Kal/similar to modern-day strongmen where the participant lifts huge stone sphere.
    • Games related to physical skills.
      • Bullock-cart driving – here, the person driving the cart does not exhibit any physical skills. Based on the ability of the bull, the victory is decided.


  1. Games of mental skill

Chiefly games of mental abilities are indoor. Following are some of the games played using mental skills.

    • Kattam Vilaiyattu – here the person who brings his coin (kaay) in a straight line is considered a winner.
    •  Aadu Puli– In this game, one’s mental skill is exhibited by blocking opponents coin and cutting them.
  1. Games of chance


  1. Games played by women

The games played by women do not involve physical skills. Psychologically the development of physic is not considered to be feminine. Women’s play games of mental abilities related to chance.

  • Taayam/Ludo – According to the number that occurs one move the coin. Taayam is a game chance. But moving a particular coin according to the number exhibits one’s mental skill, since one thinks which ‘coin’ to proceed to cut the opponent’s coin.
  • Pallankuli – One does not know which pit contains more seeds so that this game can be considered as a game of chance. A person proficient in this game can, to some extent, guess which pit contains more seed.
  • Tattankal – In this game, throwing a stone and catching it and removing rock from a group without the others may be considered a game of chance, but they also need practice.
  • Sprinkling turmeric water is a game of amusement, played during festival days.


  1. Games played by children.


In country-side, children rarely play adult instructed games. They play games which are mostly transmitted child games. Among the games played by children, there are several party games these games are also child conveyed. Manufactured games are not common among country children.


Classification of games played by children


  1. Chasing games
  • Tottu Vilaiyaatu In this game, a person will chase while others run without being caught by him. A person who is touched by the chaser should next chase the others.
  • Immunity from chaser (Marum Kotti(woodpecker), Kalla Manna ( stone or sand). – The main motive of this game is to escape from the touch of a chaser. One may touch a tree or stand on a rock as an act of immunity from the chaser.
    1. Catching games
      • Catching game is an extension of chasing game. In this game, one may try to reach a specific limit without being caught by the opponent.
    2. Seeking games
      • Treasure hunt
      • Hide and Seek
    3. Imitative games
      • Imitative games played by boys are based on various professions. E.g. (King, Minister, Robber and Police).
      • Imitative games are more common among girls than boys. Girls play the following games.
        1. Maccile Yaaru (Who is in the attic). – Conversation among women.
        2. Kilavi Vilaiyattu – How old lady moves and talks among young girls.
        3. Moru Villaiyattu –Imitation of women selling curd.
        4. Soru paanai – Dealing with cooking.


  1. Games played by infants

Till the children attain the age of playing independently, they depend upon their father, mother, grandparents or some other old lady (taaycci).

When the ‘taaycci’ conducts games, she introduces certain traditions. In these games recipes, distribution of food, entertaining guests and other customs take place. (e.g. Paruppukataintu).

The infants who learn to converse takes part in games like question and answer.

Among infant games, songs and rhymes play an essential part, since they improve the knowledge and memory of the child.


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