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Children Games and the Use of Language
There are numerous games that are played traditionally by Tamil kids. They are usually transmitted through the generations orally. Some of them are even seriously played by adults in tournaments, national competitions etc., while some are played only by kids.
The game called கபடி கபடி is recognized as a national game in Tamil Nadu. It involves controlling one's breath and saying கபடி கபடி aloud continuously while crossing the opponents' boundary line. If the opposite group members catch the person before returning back to his groups boundary, that person is thrown out of the game. But, if the person that holds the breath touches one or more members of the opposite team and returns to his own area holding the breath, the persons whom he touched are out of the game. The game continues until everyone is out from one of the teams. The words கபடி கபடி do not have any meaning, but are used as part of this game traditionally. சடு குடு சடு குடு is the other phrase that is used instead of கபடி கபடி. In some regions, there is also a custom of beginning with the following song and repeat the last word to hold the breath.
நான்தாண்டா ஒங்கப்பன் நல்ல முத்துப் பேரன், வெள்ளிப் பிறம்பெடுத்து விளையாட வறேன்டா வறேன்டா 'I am your father, grandson of Nalla Muthu. Holding a silver rod, I am coming to play/fight with you.'
The word வறேன்டா 'I am coming (you guy)' is repeated to hold the breath in the opponents' boundary.
ஜல்லிக்கட்டு is a bull fight game which has not yet been banned by the government. This game is especially played by adults during the பொங்கல் festival during the month of harvest month தை (January-February). The word கட்டு means 'subjugate', and the word ஜல்லி probably meant 'bull' in old Tamil, but is not used in this sense anymore.
கண்ணாமூச்சி விளையாட்டு: ('game of the blindfold') This is a children's game which involves blindfolding one child with a piece of cloth while that child has to catch/touch the other kids. The child who is touched will then take the turn to be blind-folded. Again, the word கண் means 'eye' but the other part of this word மூச்சி must have been a slang form of the word முடிச்சி 'tying' or மூடு 'close'.
ஒரு குடம் தண்ணீர் ஊற்றி (sp. உத்தி) ஒரு பூ பூத்தது ('with one pot of water one flower bloomed'): This is a counting game involving a rhyming song that starts with the phrases ஒரு குடம் 'one pot' and ஒரு பூ 'one flower', adding one number at a time. A group of children forming a row by holding each other's hands should circle around two other kids who would be holding their hands above their heads forming an arch. The children who are singing this song should cross the arch fast while circling around. If the other kids catch two of the members of the circling kids, those kids will have to form the arch.
நண்டு வருது நரி வருது ('a grab is coming; a fox is coming') This game, which is played by an adult with a child, is usually meant for amusing a crying child by tickling with two fingers on one of the hands of the child. The adult would move the fingers through, say at the end நண்டு புடிச்சிக்கிட்டுதாம் 'the grab finally caught you', and hug the child.
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