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....
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.
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.
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.