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Chennemane, fascinating traditional chess

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Chennemane or Chenneda Mane is the name of the most popular indoor game played during the Aati month in the Tulunadu region. This game serves to portray the history and culture of Tulunadu. Mane, a rectangular-shaped wooden board, is what the Tulu term for it.

Different regions have different board (Mane) designs. For the Mane, there is no standard measurement. With seeds from native trees like ponge (pongar), coral trees, or Manjottikai Gulagunji, the game is played. The common name for it in the native tongue is “chennedakai” or “Bithu.” The most prevalent seed used in the game is amanjottikai, which is widely available. In order to play the game, 56 seeds are required.

The close connection that Tulunadu people have with agriculture was evident in this game. Due to heavy rains, there is no much activity in the agricultural fields during Aati. Therefore people opted to play indoor activities instead.

A lot of the words used in the game have agricultural connotations. For instance, “Muguli” (three seeds) denotes the green plant shoots, and “Bule Perga” means “the produce earned.”

Traditionally, Chennemane is played on the full moon day in Aati month after drinking “Metteda Ganji” or the “Paaleda Kasaya”. The game is played till Krishnashtami. Then the Manes are kept away and removed only during next Aati. Most commoners had the Mane made of wood, while kings of the region made them of gold or silver.

There are 40 different ways of playing the Chennemane. The commonly played variant is the “Bule Perga”, which is played between two persons and “Arasu Aata”, which is played between three persons – a Aarasu (King), the Pradaane (the Minister), and Geni (a tenant). Usually two people sit opposite and play.

 

Additionally, only one person can play the “Seete Aata.” In this game, there is no end. When Goddess Sita was awaiting for Lord Rama, it is believed that she played this game. There are other versions of this game that includes Joduperga, Kodillkatta, Mantriyata, Ajjinakar, Katari, Mata, Ekkadi, Kompalachenne, Anchil-Bachil, ArateMukve, and ErateKatte.

Now we rarely get to see people playing this game. The family had a great time bonding over these games, which they played for hours on end. Some people believe that playing the game with your spouse or your sisters may cause conflict. However, there is a need to revamp this old tradition to get connected to the nature again.

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Ramya E.

The author is a counselor and lifeskills trainer who has trained over 2000 students. She holds an M.Sc. in Psychology.

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