Discover the Ancient Strategy: Unveiling the Rich History and Rules of Dayakattai

 Discover the Ancient Strategy: Unveiling the Rich History and Rules of Dayakattai

Many traditional games have given way to numerous new ones. Some are surviving, either in their original form or through adaptations. Many young entrepreneurs and enthusiasts have attempted to repackage traditional games for greater acceptance.

Daykattai or Dayakattam or Dayaboss is a ‘board’ game from Tamil Nadu that has survived, at least in some areas. It is similar to Ludo and is played with stones, markers, and cowrie shells. The ‘board’ can be easily drawn on the floor using chalk. Even on firm soil, it is possible to etch it out with a stick or pointed object. Some older monuments have the board etched in stone, possibly as a pastime for the craftsmen during the execution.

The word ‘Daya’ is derived from Tamil word “Thayyam” meaning first stone. The Dayakattai, or long square cuboid dice, are used in the game. These dice also go by the names Daayam and Daala. They are usually made of brass and have dots punched into their long faces (1, 2, 3, 0). Each player begins with twelve or six coins/chips at a ‘home’ in the middle of the game board. One who reaches his all 6 coins first to the centre is the winner.

Pieces advance along the player’s side before moving clockwise. When a player rolls a one, five, six, or twelve (two zeros), they are allowed to roll again. The numbers rolled can be distributed among the player’s pieces. For example, if a player rolls 5, 12, and 2, they can move one piece by 12, another by 5, and a third by 2. Alternatively, the player could choose to share the three numbers among only two pieces, or to move only one piece based on the total number rolled.

Pieces can ‘cut’ other pieces from their opponent by landing in the same location. A “cut” piece is sent home. However, a piece cannot be cut while in one of the safe zones (represented by an X). After finishing one lap, a piece begins to move up the outer edge of the right side of its owner’s leg on the game board. It stays on the corners rather than the spaces. The piece must then move the specified number of spaces to reach the center of the board. A piece can be cut by another piece when it reaches the corner of its own home. Players win by moving all of their pieces to the center of the board.

The rules of the game are such that it requires luck and skills both. Additionally, the easy rules make it even more popular. It requires basic materials to play like, a paper, a scale, chalk, some shells and a dice. Ironically, the sea shells are still used as a fortune teller in parts of India. The Tamil proverb “vithiyai mathiyal vellalam” says that you can change your fate with your thinking. Here, the dice values determine our fate, and we manage to shift all of the coins to the destiny with my mind without losing any to others. One more traditional Dayakattai is used in some Indian villages, it is named “Marudees” or “Majith”, which translates as “a vehicle to God”. The rules are the same, with each piece containing 12 digits; the cross that appears after every 5 box counts is known as a safe spot. One team occupies the safe location (pazham zone), which the other team cannot occupy until it is cleared. The pieces in this safe place cannot be cut, and a team can only reach the pazham zone by cutting at least one of the opposing team’s pieces. Its zone commonly takes the shape of the letter M.

Dayakattai, with its Tamil Nadu roots, is a vibrant game that transcends generations. It demonstrates the creators’ creativity and resourcefulness by creating an engaging activity out of simple materials. The element of chance adds excitement, while the competitive spirit promotes camaraderie and social interaction. Dayakattai is more than just a game; it is a cultural touchstone that preserves traditions while also bringing people together for a fun experience. So, the next time you’re looking for a simple but entertaining way to connect with friends and family, give Dayakattai a try! You might be surprised at how much fun you have.

Kanishka Dwivedi

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