Game of Boards - Are traditional Indian board games making a comeback?

If you live in Chennai, chances are you’ve seen a red Honda BR-V covered in bright yellow decals of aadu puli aatam and dhaayam on the side and parama pada sopanam on the roof zipping around between schools, apartment complexes, bookstores, metro rail stations, and literary societies. That’s the Kreeda Games SUV on a summer roadshow, decorated on the outside and loaded on the inside with traditional Indian board games – Goat and Tiger, Indian Ludo, Snakes and Ladders and more – for as many people in as many places across the city to play.

Chennai-based Kreeda Games is one among several makers of traditional Indian board games that are experiencing an upswing in the demand for nostalgia. The company’s sales revenue grew 30% in the last 5 years to INR 14 lakh – a number that hardly makes a ripple in the global board games segment, which is projected to grow to more than USD 12 billion by 2023 according to Research and Markets. Yet, entrepreneurs in this segment appear undeterred. They say the thrill is in reviving tradition and as long as the business is financially viable, there is satisfaction in running it.

“One bambaram [spinning top] sells for INR 170 and I make INR 20 on each sale. INR 20!” says Vinita Siddhartha who founded Kreeda with a capital investment of INR 1 lakh. “A customer in Singapore wanted a bambaram; the cost of shipping was INR 600. A gilli danda costs INR 280; shipping cost to a customer in Australia was INR 2,400. Unless I do huge volumes it’s tough. It’s a hard business. So Kreeda is passion; the rest is bread and butter.”

About the Writer

Sujata Srinivasan is an award-winning, independent business journalist.@sujatasrini

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