While traditional games are vanishing, Games of Goa Festival revived and promoted the heritage games.
It has become very uncommon now to see kids running around and screaming while playing hopscotch, marbles, hoops or seven tiles. In between the lanes of houses, these sounds with time are becoming very rare. These thoughts gave an opportunity for Goa to organise Games of Goa Festival, which was held on the 23rd and 24th of February 2019.
Games of Goa Festival was an attempt to bring back the state's traditional games, that Goans have been playing. "Through discussion, we realised that there are a lot of games that we are not even aware of. We started exploring more and that's how this idea evolved", says Kedar Borkar, who is the organiser of Games of Goa Festival. The idea was also to preserve the culture and heritage alive around these games. The two-day festival, covered over 15 outdoor and indoor games in the festival, and the venue gave a dedicated space for each game. The festival was open for both Goans and tourists to reconnect with these long lost traditional games. "It feels like our cultural heritage has come back to life. Also, playing environment is a different experience. There is a vast difference between playing among green trees and playing on our school playground", says Samruddhi Dessai, a student who came to attend the festival.
With an aim to showcase Goan culture through games, Kedar started exploring more on games that people are not aware of, hence he has been working on this idea since October 2018. "When we use words like 'preserve' or 'heritage', people form a notion that this festival might be boring and we might give talks about history and dates. But if they attend this event, they will know that it is interesting. It is an experience in itself", says Varun Hegde, who is also an organiser at Games of Goa Festival.
The team documented all the games and referred to books to gather information. During their research, they interacted with more than 50 to 60 people, especially to the older generation, who have grown up playing these games, and went beyond books and libraries. "It took us 2 months to document all these games. I feel that these games are still relevant in today's era. This festival that we have organised, this is just a beginning", adds Varun Hegde.
In a land of cultural diversity, Games of Goa Festival gave an opportunity to a lot of people to engage in traditional games, which helps not only in developing skills like coordination, concentration, logical thinking, but also an option of taking these games forward to schools and colleges. "In the coming year, our goal will be to showcase its importance to people," said Varun Hegde, highlighting the potential of these games of Goa.
Video by Community Correspondent Devidas Gaonkar
Article by Grace Jolliffe, a member of the VV editorial team
Before the arrival of Summer (February/March), and after the Maha Shivaratri festival, these communities migrate to the hills, to the places that they left earlier for better livelihood options.