Rediscovering the Joy of Traditional Games as Training Tools for Deeper Impact.


Moneky’s Pole is the literal transition of the traditional game in context here. It is called Bandar Qilla.

During our childhood, when televisions were an ultra-luxury, computers, laptops, and mobile phones were innovations in process, and routines were simpler and less distracting.

 our morning routine was all about waking up early, getting ready, and going to school and it was all fun. On return when, we would head out to meet neighborhood friends and engage in various outdoor games like Kabaddi, Gulli Danda, Pitthu Garam, Stapu, Lukan Meeti, Kokla Chhapaki, Bandar Qilla (Monkey’s Pole), and more. We would play until the sun set, and after coming home, do homework/study, have dinner, and sit with our grandparents to listen to their stories and tales. These stories would take us to magical worlds where horses could fly, and one could lift mountains. I would not call them fake, but they were probably high on imagination and wonder. 

However, today, it’s rare to find children playing in parks or playgrounds. Most of them are content playing on their PSPs or mobile phones. Cartoon channels have replaced grandparents as storytellers, and the traditional games we used to play have been forgotten. I often ponder whether the tales portrayed on cartoon networks or mobile screens possess the same enchanting ability as the imaginative stories that our grandparents used to transport us to other worlds.

Having played both traditional and online games both, I would say that traditional games are much more enriching. I struggle to comprehend what younger generations find so appealing in mobile games. Traditional games were not only a form of entertainment but also provided valuable lessons in teamwork, responsibility, and morality, while fostering meaningful social connections. No wonder the training interventions most loved in my training room are about those games and the corporates are bound towards outdoor retreats, recreation, and physical activities.

One of my favorite traditional games is Bandar Qilla (Monkey’s Pole). Although the monkey (chosen player) often gets beaten by the group, the game is still a lot of fun. This game requires 8-10 players, and after drawing lots, the player who loses becomes the monkey (Bandar). The monkey ties a rope around the pole and, with the help of his leg, draws a circle around the pole, which becomes his area. He or she is required to hang on to the loose end of the rope during the gameplay. The rest of the players keep their shoes around the pole, and the monkey is supposed to protect them from being stolen by other team members. The players outside the enclosure are not allowed to enter it, and the monkey cannot leave his circle. If the monkey does leave the circle, the players are allowed to kick him back inside. During the play, while stealing shoes, if any of the players is touched by the monkey, then the monkey is set free and the other player who was touched by him takes his place and becomes a new monkey. Once all the shoes have been stolen, the players start hitting the monkey with them until he runs towards his house or a pre-decided place, signaling the end of the game. The game is then repeated after drawing lots, and a new monkey is chosen.

Although this game may seem a little weird to those who have never played it before, the adventure, vibe, and impact of the game are remarkable. If you want to experience the thrill and understand the deeper meaning behind this traditional game, you should play it at least once.

To me, this game was never just about the monkey and the pole, but about human nature. The circle around the pole represents our boundaries, and the shoes around the pole represent our external environment family, internal environment , and the little joys in life. As long as we stay within our limits and protect what belongs to us, we remain safe. If we cross our boundaries and leave things unattended, there may be severe consequences. Hence going out of the comfort zones is good but one must guard the boundaries that define and impact our internal and external environment. This also defines our peace of mind and social existence.

 Just like the players outside the enclosure who try to steal shoes, there may be people who are annoying, and distract you from your goals of peace, happiness, and growth. They can trigger your anxiety, and get on your nerves in a zest to take away the little things that matter to us. But that is where you need to guard your inner boundaries and focus on your core. 

Nourish your inner circle, guard the space that matters, and never allow anyone to enter your inner circle and destroy the mental peace, just like the monkey whose only job is to guard what is his own, what matters most without letting the outside stress enter his sacred space.