Pithoo – The game of seven stones

Have you come across children on the street trying to knock down a pile of stones or rebuild the knocked stones then you have witnessed a traditional game called Pithoo, known for its health benefits – both physical and mental…

WORDS BY- SANGEETA S

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A few of us born in the 70’s and early 80’s (and maybe even earlier) may recall an interesting game we once played as young kids during our childhood called ‘Pithoo- – a popular folk game which was played in both rural and urban parts of India. Of course, with the advent of satellite television, internet and mobile phones, these traditional games were quickly forgotten and replaced with online gaming and PS4s.

So how is it played? It is a very simple game – all you need is a tennis or rubber ball, seven stones and two teams with an equal number of players. There is no restriction on the number of players if both teams have an equal number of players in them. The stones are stacked up to form a small tower where one team must break the tower with the ball and another team must rebuild before getting hit by one of the opponents.

This game has been played for generations and is known to improve both, a child’s concentration and physical fitness. It also improves the running abilities of children along with inculcating important values like teamwork and camaraderie. Pithoo focuses on the physical abilities is us like running, catching, observation, aiming and even swiftness. It also helps keep focus as hitting the target is the important part of the game.

In fact, all our traditional games like Kancha, Gulli-danda, Kabaddi etc. require agility and swift body movement. These games can be of great benefit to children as these games keep them physically active and mentally alert. Playing such games requires you to swing your arms, jump and run which makes you a physically active person. Since these games are mostly played in a group, they help in building friendships and learning the importance of sportsmanship. Children these days are more inclined towards the virtual world with very little human interaction. Such games can solve this problem to a large extent.

In fact, not only at the physical and social level, these traditional games even help improve eye-to-hand coordination. Such traditional games can help in the overall development of children. It benefits them physically, socially, intellectually and in many more ways. The games develop creativity and imagination.
With so many benefits, these games need to be preserved and passed on to our future generations, so that the heritage is revived and help in the development of a fitter and healthier India.

pittu

With so many benefits, these games need to be preserved and passed on to our future generations, so that the heritage is revived and help in the development of a fitter and healthier India.

Rules of the Game
Players are divided into two teams of equal players. A coin toss usually decides which team starts the game. A member of one team tries to knock the stones with the help of a tennis ball. This team gets three chances from three different players to knock over the pile of stones. If they are unable to knock over the pile of stones in three tries, the other team get a turn. And if they can knock the stones the game begins.
Once the stones are knocked down the team must restore the pile of stones while the opposing team tries to stop them by throwing the ball at the players. If the ball touches any player, that player is out. The team tries to rebuild the stones while managing to not get hit by the ball from the opposing team. If the team manages to rebuild then they have defended the pittu and they get one point and also the chance to hit the stones again. In case they fail to do this, and all the players are out, the defending team will gain the point and then it’s the other team’s turn to hit the pile of stones.
History & Promoting Pithoo
The game has a history which dates to the Bhagwata Gita which talks about Lord Krishna playing this game. The traditional sport of Pithoo was revived in India with the launch of a new tournament -Indian Lagori Premier League (ILPL), based on the lines of the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Pro-Kabaddi League (PKL). The Karnataka Amateur Lagori Association (KALA) brought back the much-loved game in a new avatar. The game is called by the name Lagori in Karnataka. KALA, an associated body of the Amateur Lagori Federation of India (ALFI) introduced the sport in Mysuru with several youngsters showing a keen interest in the sport. Different associations from different states are trying to revive this sport.