Wednesday, 8 June 2022

Olinda Keliya

Olinda Keliya
Olinda Keliya (Sinhala: ඔළිඳ කෙළිය) is a traditional Mancala game of Sri Lanka. It is played by two on a specially prepared board called Olinda Kolombuwa or Olinda Poruwa usually made of hardwood.

The game derives its name from the seeds (Olinda: Abrus precatorius) used as counters which is about 5 mm in diameter, red in colour and characterised by a black spot (De Voogt, 2000). A typical Olinda Poruwa divides into a geometric pattern of seven rows of holes on the two sides with two larger depressions on the two ends or in between the playing rows (De Voogt, 2000). Usually, the space in the centre and round is used for decorations. Variations are observed when shells or pearls are used as counters. Sometimes, the rules of the game vary from area to area, but it is normally played by two players seated on either side of the board.

In this game, the players shift the Olinda seeds from one hole to the other and collect the seeds found in the hole immediately after an empty one. Ultimately the player who could collect the largest amount of seeds becomes the winner of the game.

Presently, Olinda Keliya is mainly played during special periods, such as Singhalese New Year. It is believed that ancient women played this game because it beautified their fingers which came in contact with the smooth Olinda seeds.

1) De Voogt, A.J., 2000. Mancala boards (Olinda Keliya) in the National Museums of Colombo. International Journal for the Study of Board Games, pp.91-99.

This page was last updated on 14 June 2022
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