Text by Aarya Menon
This lockdown may have been a tough phase for everyone, but it is also a phase that many of us have utilised spending time with our families or worked on building our skills. Spending quality time with our families could include watching movies, enjoying tea breaks or playing board games. One of the all-time favourite games that almost every one of us enjoy is Tash or playing cards. In fact, playing cards are very popular in India.
Did you know that playing cards were first brought to India by the Persians? It was also known as ‘Ganjifa’. Ganjifa cards have 8 eight suits. Ganjifa cards are circular or rectangular, and traditionally hand-painted by artisans. The game became popular at the Mughal court, and lavish sets were made, from materials such as precious stone-inlaid ivory or tortoiseshell. Card games were played with specifically designed heavy papers with motifs. These motifs were either hand-painted or block-printed.
In modern-day cards, there are a total of 52 cards divided into 4 suits, each containing 13 cards. The four suits are hearts, diamonds, spades and clubs. Each suite has cards numbered from one to ten and the other three are the King, Queen and Jack.
Popular household card games
There are large numbers of card games in India. Some of these card games in India have standard rules but again it varies by region, culture and person. For example, in the game ‘Bluff’, some people believe that the sequence of playing should start from Ace and end with the King and some other people say that the game can be played in any sequence. There are multiple card games that are played with cards. Some of them include ‘Teen Patti’, ‘Rummy’, ‘Panji’, ‘Bluff’ and ‘Badam Satti’.
- Teen Patti is similar to the British game, ‘Three-card brag’ and is normally associated with gambling.
- Rummy is a game played between any number of players with the main objective to make sequences with the 13 cards in your hand.
- Panji is played with five cards in each players hand and the main motive of the game is to finish off one’s cards by making groups of two or more cards of the same number.
- Badam satti is played between any number of players and the main aim is to make the sequence of a suit. The first card that has to be played is the seven of hearts, hence the name.
- Bluff is a game that involves players to finish off the cards in their hands by bluffing their moves plays. This game requires good lying skills too. My personal favourite is Panji because it is one of the easiest card games to play and it gets over really fast. At my house, we play this game almost every night before bedtime.
Playing cards with the family
During this lockdown, in my family, we have has made it a tradition to play cards every night. Come to think of it, this has helped us bond as a family and bring us closer. We laugh, make jokes and tease each other. This light-hearted competition helps us in life as it makes us good sports and teaches us to not sulk over defeat. It is a great way to end the day on a fun and a happy note; more importantly, it makes happy memories, isn’t it?
While playing cards in India is a very old tradition, it is not seen considered appropriate owing to its association with gambling. In spite of this, if we wisely choose age-appropriate and non-gambling card games, playing cards can actually be a very social indoor sport, that can be played with family members. Cards teach us strategy, patience and if the game is properly taught and played, it can be an enjoyable experience over a cup of tea.
If you haven’t tried it yet, try a game of Rummy or any age-appropriate card games with your children and family and watch the time fly by with laughter and jokes. It will help you relax and can turn into a great bonding session.
About our writing program student:
Aarya Menon is a Grade XI student from DPS, Undri, Pune. This 16-year-old science student is also an aspiring writer, fond of fine arts and is an avid basketball player.
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