Sinhala and Hindu New Year:Aluth Avurudu games
The dawn of the New Year is around the corner and most of you must be eagerly looking forward to it especially to have fun with your friends participating in the various games played during the season and also enjoy the tasty sweetmeats that are available in plenty. Like all the age-old rituals connected with the New Year there are also traditional games played at the Avurudu Ulela some of which are very different to the games we play at other times. Today we give you an insight into some of these games....
Pancha keliya, onchili pedeema, kalagedi sellama, olinda keliya and porapol geheema are some of the games played during the New Year. These games bring fun and joy to our lives and at the same time, teach us a valuable lesson about team spirit.
Oththe-iratte is believed to be one of the oldest games played during the New Year. Both men and women play games such as kawadi for stakes. The scoring by means of runners is done on a chart drawn up on a plank or on cardboard.
Pancha is another popular indoor game played during the New Year season. Pancha is played with five small seashells, a coconut shell, and a chart. Players are divided into two groups. At events organised during the New Year, traditional competitive games like climbing the greased pole, pillow fighting (Kotta Pora), raban contests, gudu and elle are also played by many people.
Porapol geheema is a game which involves two teams, each taking turns to throw a coconut until all the nuts on one side are broken. The winning nut will be kept in the temple. This game is very famous in the southern part of the country, especially in Matara and Devundara. During ancient times, only king coconuts were used, but nowadays with the demand and the price of the king coconuts, if needed coconuts are being used. The popular belief is that the origin of this game dates beyond the advent of Buddhism.
Ankeliya is another common game mostly preferred by teenage boys. It is a more elaborate exercise than porapol geheema and is essentially a community game where divisions called udupila and yatipila are made. Each contesting side has a forked sambur horn.
These horns are interlocked and attached to a strong tree, which is called the an-gaha (horn tree). A rope is then attached to the interlocked horns and both teams have to tug vigorously at the rope. The tugging has to continue until one of the horns is damaged.
Gudu Keliya is another game played mostly by the smaller children. A propelling stick about two and a half feet long and a smaller one about six inches in length called the kuttiya are used.
A small hole about three inches is dug on the ground. Across this hole, the kuttiya is placed. The player then inserts the longer stick beneath the kuttiya and pushes it forward as fast as he/she can.
The rival players are spread out in the field in order to catch the kuttiya while it is still in the air. If any of them succeed, the striker is out. Another famous fun activity played during the season is going on the swing or onchili pedeema. Adults prepare gaily-decorated swings on the branches of overhanging trees for the children. They sing onchili waram while they swing. Tug-o-war is another game played especially at Avurudu Ulelas.
This is played using a long and strong rope. Players divide into two groups to play this. The middle of the rope is marked and each team is asked to stand on either side of the rope and pull it until one team is dragged towards the opposite side. Olinda Keliya is another popular game played especially in villages during the season.
This game is played using Olinda seeds. Women mainly play this game. Players also sing Olinda kavi. It is believed that Olinda keliya originated in Bangladesh. The stool, which is used to play Olinda, has two columns with seven holes in a row. Seeds like madatiya, mee and kekuna are also used to play this game.
These traditional games are interesting to play. Most of them such as an keliya and porapol gaheema are connected to religion.
They enhance the team spirit of people and help make friends. Avurudu is the time to forgive and forget. It is the time to make friends. Make use of these traditional games to promote peace and harmony among everyone in your village and neighbourhood.