What all sports originated in ancient India?
Sports originated in ancient India are:
- Chess: Chess was devised in India, and was known as Ashtapada (which means 64 squares). Unlike how the game is played today, it used to be played with a dice on a checkerboard, but without black and white squares. A few years later, the game was called Chaturanga (quadripartite). It was divided into four parts called angas, which were symbolic of the four branches of an army. Just like the real ancient Indian army, it had pieces called elephants, chariots, horses and soldiers, and was played to devise war strategies. In 600 CE, Persians learned this game and named it Shatranj. ‘Checkmate’ comes from the Persian term in the game, ‘Shah-Mat’, meaning ‘the king is dead’.
- Carrom: Indian Maharajas invented the game centuries ago. You can find an ancient glass carrom board in Patiala, Punjab. Carrom gained popularity after World War I, and is now played at family or social gatherings for fun.
- Ludo: Earlier in India it was called Pachisi and the board was made out of cloth or jute. A depiction of Pachisi is found in the caves of Ajanta in Maharashtra. The Mughal Emperors of India, such as Akbar, also liked playing Pachisi. In the late 19th century, different variations of the same game were played in England in 1896, a similar game appeared that was called Ludo, and thus the name was patented.
- Snakes & Ladders: Earlier Snakes & Ladders was called Moksha Patam, Mokshapat and Parama Padam. Created by Sant (saint) Gyandev in the 13th century, this game of vice and virtues was used in Hindu Dharma to teach good values to children. The snakes represented vice and the ladders virtues. The squares where the ladders were found depicted virtues; for example, square 12 was faith, 51 was reliability, 76 was knowledge, and so on. Similarly, the squares where the snakes were found were known as vices, square 41 was disobedience, 49 was vulgarity, 84 was anger, etcetera. The hundredth square represented Moksha or Nirvana. With time, the game underwent a number of changes, but the meaning remained the same: if you do good deeds, you go to heaven, and if you do bad deeds, you will be reborn.
- Cards: Earlier it was called Krida-Patram. They were made of cloth pieces and showcased ancient designs from the Ramayana and Mahabharata. In medieval India, they were called Ganifa cards and were played in the royal courts. These cards were all handmade and traditionally painted. To provide the cards with sufficient thickness, several cloth pieces were glued together. Later, cards were played by all levels of society, made from tortoise shell or ivory and decorated with pearls and precious metals. 19th century cardboard playing cards from in Rajasthan.
- Polo: Though ancient polo finds its origin in Central Asia, it was Manipur in India that set the foundation for modern polo. When Babur founded the Mughal empire in the 15th century, he made the sport quite famous. Later when the British came to India, they adopted the sport and it gradually spread across the world. Mostly the game is played on horseback, but the British invented another variation–on elephant back.
- Kho-Kho: Kho-kho or the ‘game of chase’ was earlier played in Maharashtra. It is one of the most popular traditional Indian sports. During ancient times, it was played on raths (chariots), and was called Rathera. When Akhil Maharashtra Shareerika Shikshan Mandal published the rules of the game officially in 1935, kho-kho became popular.
- Bull fighting: The bull taming sport of Tamil Nadu is known by various names in India, such as Jallikattu, Manju Virattu and Eruthazhuvathal. It is mostly played during Pongal celebrations.
- Kabaddi: It is a contact sport that is around 4,000 years old. It is another sport that started in Tamil Nadu and developed from ancient village defense tactics and group hunting.