Avery popular indoor-game, this folk game is very much similier to ‘Mankala’ game played in South Africa, Indonesia, Philiphines and in Asia. In Integral Park of the Tuluva culture and tradition, researchers have concluded that the game was a very popular medium to attire youngsters to the intricacies, in farming (Tulunadu then predominantly was agrarian) and governance. There were 27 difference types, of which the knowledge of only 16 games are in public memory.
Earlier this game was played on a metal board, but today the board has been replaced with wood and is described as “Mane’. In the absence of specific dimensions the ‘Mane’s sizes range from small to big. Some types are just plain wooden board, raised 2-4 inches from the ground. Some have intricate carvings on all the four sides and elders insist that the bottom of the board must have carvings of serpents. (According to folk core the serpent gods had used this game).
The wooden board has totally 14 pits with seven feets distributed evenly on each side. In Tulu the feets are known as ‘Kone’ (Rooms), “Illa’, ‘Guri’ some times the wooden board has additional chambers to store the ‘Seeds’ or shells. Depending upon the types game, it can be played between two to four people and severely tamarind seeds cowric shells, stones or bangle seeds are used as pawns. Under the very popular ‘Chenne Aata’ a total number of 56 pieces are disturbed equally, such that each ‘Kone’ has four pieces. The games played with a player emptying a pit and begins distributing the pieces either in clockwise or anti-clockwise direction. After dropping the last piece, the player moves on to the next pit and empties out all the pieces. During the course of play, if the player in the previous pit, the player looses hirs right to play and his opponent begins playing, by entying out a pit located on his side. If a pit has three pieces the player must skip the pit. But if the player to left with a last piece, he can add to the pit and take possession of all the four-pieces. After the completion of the first round, each players must step into the second round by filling up the pits with the pieces he has in his possession. If a player fails to fill up all his seven pits, the remaining empty pit is called ‘potthu’. These empty ‘pits’ determine the game and when a player has more than four ‘potthu’. He is declared loser.
According to historians this game was played between July and August, before the ‘Khariff coop’ (first crop) was harvested. As proof of its popularities and relevance, in the unique socio-cultural set up of Tulunada chennemane has many native terms. There are several, but peculiar don’ts. The game should not be played, between sisters between husband and wife, by children below 10 years. If players cheat, or lie, the player becomes in sane or faces dire consequences. Each don’t has a folklore justifying why the rule has come into existence.
The first in the series is a game called Channe Mane. Some people might know this game as Atkuni Mane, Aleguli Mane, Gundpale (Konkani) and so on.
The board or the Mane looks like this. Usually it is played using tamarind seeds. But any other seeds can also be used. At the start of the game each hole contains five seeds.
- The first player picks up the seeds of one of his holes and distributes them into the following holes one by one anti-clockwise.
- After dropping the last seed into a hole, the contents of the following hole are distributed in another lap.
- The move ends when the following hole is empty. This is called “saada”.
- If the hole is empty, the player captures the contents of the succeeding hole. In addition, he captures the contents of the hole opposite to that hole.
- Each turn a player may move twice, if he captures in his first move. Then his term ends after two “saadas”.
- A player must move unless he has nothing to play with.
- The game is finished when all counters are taken.
- The player who has collected most counters wins the game.
- In the next round, each player tries to fill his holes with five counters from his winnings. These holes which cannot be filled are marked with a pebble or a twig and are avoided for further play. The match is continued until one player is unable to fill even one hole.