Music, Poetry, Literature, Culture
Music, Poetry, Literature, Culture

Seven Stones

Seven stones, traditionally known as Pittu Garam, Urdu:پٹھو گرم, Sindhi: پِٺُو گرم‎, Persian: هفت سنگ is a traditional South Indian game played between two teams. Also called as ‘Lagori in Kannada and ‘Nargol‘ or Satodiyu‘ in Gujarat, the game requires a tennis ball and a set of seven stones which can be stacked up in descending order, forming a small tower. The aim of the game is to be able to break the tower and then rebuild it before getting hit by one of the opponent.
Seven Stones, one of the most ancient games of India whose history dates back to the Bhagwata Gita, a religious text that is said to be written 5000 years ago, mentions Lord Krishna playing the game with his friends.[2] Also known as ‘Lagori,’ this traditional sport is played by both girls and boys in rural as well urban areas all over India since the last 5 milleniums. Believed to have been originated in the southern parts of India, Lagori goes by several names across the country, differing from region to region. A recreational game, Lagori is often played in teams of two with minimum four players on each side of the team. Considered to be a humorous, simple and economical game,[3] the game is now almost extinct with very few people playing the game. A game that often boasts of being the more aggressive version of Dodgeball, Lagori used to be one of the most popular outdoor sports in India during the 90’s and slowly reduced in popularity due to lack of open grounds and the innovation of technology that has children glued to their electronic devices. Having lost its importance in the recent times, there are still times when kids are often spotted in villages playing the sport and keeping the folk culture of the country alive and not let it die in history.
This game allows children to not only blow off some steam and play outdoors, but also provides a place for social interaction between other children who come to play. This game helps to develop  and hone aiming skills, strategy building skills, and teamwork in children.[4] They learn to compete among one another in a healthy environment and also learn to accept defeat and by understanding true sportsmanship.
Lagori, as mentioned, has several names attached to it including ‘Dikori’ and ‘Naroliyu’ among other names that originated in different regions but often translating to and even meaning the same thing: Seven Stones.
Traditional Way of Playing
Often played by children and adults of all ages, Lagori is an aggressive game but does not necessarily require any safety gears as there is little threat of injury. Over the years, the game has been modified for various reasons. Following is how the game was played in the 1900’s and early 2000’s.
Ideally played in an open space, there are 7 flat pieces of stones of differing sizes placed on top of one another, forming a pyramid. This pile of stones marks the centre of the playing field, while two teams stand on either side of the field, facing the stone pile. There is equal distance on both ends – from the pile of stones to the team, who also decide a considerable amount of distance they want to keep between them and the pile. There is no particular rule as to how many people should be on one team, however it is typical for the players to be equal on both teams. Each team has a role that is switched after each turn – the attacking team and the defending team. The game is started off by the attacking team, who aim a ball towards the pile of stones in an attempt to shatter it. In case of missing the pile, the team has two more tries to bring down the pile of stones. Once it collapses, the defending team get the ball and aim at the attacking team who, if hit by the ball, are eliminated from the field. During all this ruckus, a few players from the attacking team try to pile up the stones again in the same order it was placed. If the pile is ready before all the players from the attacking team are out, the attacking team get the point.  However, if the pile is incomplete and all the players from the attacking team are eliminated, then the defending team gets the point. Traditionally, several games are played without a time limit to decide the winner. During the game, the defending team has the liberty to knock down the pile of stones while they are being restocked by the attacking team and if they are successful in doing so, the attacking team has to stack all the seven stones again. The main purpose of the defending team is to either eliminate the players on the opposite team by hitting them with the ball, or they need to aim at the pile of stones before all of them are stacked properly by the attacking team.
Modern Day Lagori
Not very long ago, during a time before smartphones, kids all around the country would come together on a field to play from a plethora of outdoor games. While football and cricket were the most commonly played games, ancient and traditional Indian were also played like Kabaddi, Kho-Kho, and Gilli Danda.
As time passed by, most of these traditional games began to fade away and very few remained. Kabaddi, for example, became a global phenomenon after being pushed with the Pro Kabaddi League. A game that no kid talked about 7 years ago, is now being enthusiastically watched and played by almost every child of this generation. Fortunately, Kabaddi is not the only traditional sport who gained international popularity. Lagori, which was played a lot by the youth back in the day, has also begun to make its way to the international circuit.
Today, Lagori is played by at least 30 nations across the world. The game has gradually gained a considerable amount of global prominence. However, India is the epicentre of the development of the game on with a bigger platform and a wide outreach to contemporary audience. The Indian Lagori Premier League that was held in November 2017 had gathered great momentum across the nation which was organised by the Amateur Lagori Federation of India. They have also made efforts to push the game to several states of India as well as in other countries, playing a pivotal role in popularising the game. The second Lagori World Cup (first being played in 2015) is soon going to take place later this year, several nations including Indian, Bhutan Hong Kong, Brazil, Turket, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Nepal will go face to face.
Similar to India, Lagori is identified differently in various countries, but the spirit of the sport remains the same.
7 Sang – Iran
Teelo – Canada
Sat Chara – Bangladesh
Pitho Garam – Pakistan
Seven Tilo- Nepal
Cantracon – Afghanistan

The rules have not changed that much over the years, however there have been some changes brought in the way the game is being played. The following fundamentals were laid down by the International Lagori Foundation: Each team would have 12 players, with only 6 players on the court for every set. One set lasts for 3 minutes followed by a half minute break in between sets. One match has typically 3 sets and the team scoring maximum points wins. Other than that, the rules are basically the same for all leagues. Having said that, the game has definitely come a long way from what it was. From a dusty open field to an indoor synthetic turf, from a pile of stones lying around in the field to 7 circular fibre discs made for the game, and from an old tennis ball to a softball specifically tailored for the game.
Despite the game almost being forgotten and becoming extinct in the past few decades, the inaugural World Cup help in 2015 was a huge success paired with the Indian Lagori Premiere League (ILPL) catering to a wide audience in the country, it seems as though Lagori is going through its revival phase. Hopefully, like Kabaddi was successfully revived and is now on every modern kids’ minds, Lagori can emulate the same and achieve similar success in the nation and across the globe.