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Blog | 21 July 2023

13 games to celebrate South Asian Heritage Month

Nicola Hilliard, Creative Content Producer

South Asian Heritage Month (SAHM) aims to mark and celebrate South Asian cultures, histories, and communities. It helps us to understand the diverse heritage and cultures that continue to link the UK with South Asia.

South Asian Heritage Month celebrates the history and achievements of some of the countries in South Asia - The Maldives, Bangladesh, India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan. It runs between the 18 July and 17 August each year.

South Asian culture has made a significant impact on the UK in various aspects, such as food, clothing, music and words. This helps make the UK a more diverse, culturally-rich place.

To mark South Asian Heritage Month, weve put together some games from these countries for you to try in Scouts.

  • Choose an appropriate outdoor area and set boundaries with your group for during the game. You could mark out the boundaries with cones or natural features, such as walls and hedges.
  • Remember to check the terrain and make sure the game area is free of hazards. For example, hazards could be roads, dips in the grass, wet floors, steps, rocks, or car parks. 
  • For some games, find a safe way to identify the teams or individual who’s ‘it’. 
  • Make sure your equipment is undamaged and suitable for use in the game.
  • Think about the speed the game is likely to be played at and the amount of light, if you’re outside. Will the obstacles be seen?
  • Make sure people have appropriate footwear and clothing on to play the game, such as trainers.
  • Think about where you will be playing the game. Will you need to take turns if you have a large group?


  • Explain the boundaries of the playing area and where the no-go zones are.
  • Tell people how they can use the space respectfully, without disturbing the wildlife or other people enjoying the site if you're in a public space.
  • Tell everyone where adults will be around the site and what people should do if anyone in their team needs help.
  • Have a memorable ‘base’ spot where an adult will always stay.
  • Explain the signal to stop play and how long the game will go on for. A long blast on a whistle works well as a signal to stop the game.
  • If playing in a public space, young people should be paired up so no young person is left alone, and they should run or move together.
Group of leaders and Squirrels sitting on the grass with one leader standing in the middle holding a ball.

The games

Kabaddi is a popular sport in Southern Asia that first originated in Ancient India. 

For this game, youll need a way to mark boundaries, such as with cones, masking tape or chalk.

Each team will take it in turns to sending a raiderto the opposite team's half to try to score points. This is called a ‘raid’.

Divide the playing area with two halves with a mid-line. Each half should have a backline to mark the rear boundary. Close to each backline is a baulk line, which a raider must cross for their raid to be valid.

Crossing a line is defined as having either both feet completely across the line or one foot across and the other in the air. A player must have both feet outside the playing area to be considered out of bounds.

Between the backline and the baulk line is a bonus line. If the raider touches it and returns to their side of the field, theyll get extra points.

Divide everyone into two teams of seven. You may have more teams and switch out who’s playing after a period of time.

The two teams should each go on opposite halves of the playing area. The first team should choose the first raider.

The raider can win points by tagging members of the opposing team, before returning to their own half. However, the raider must hold their breath and complete the raid in one breath.

To prove that the raid takes place in one breath, the raider audibly chants the word ‘kabaddi’ continuously during the whole raid. 

The goal of the defenders is to stop the raider from returning to the home side before taking a breath. 

When the raider tags a defender, the defenders can try to stop the raider from getting back to their own side. They could stand in the way of the defender or work together to block the defender.

If the raider is prevented from reaching their side after tagging a player, then the raider is out. The defenders score a point and may revive one player from their team whos out.

If the raider escapes and makes it back to their side, then each defender touched by the raider, or whoever touched the raider, is out. The raiders score one touch point for each and may revive the same number of players.

If the raider doesnt tag anyone, then theyre out. The raider is also out if they take a breath before returning.

A player who is out leaves the field of play until revived. Players are revived in the same order they were put out.

A team scores a bonus of two points, called a ‘lona’, if the entire opposing team is declared out. At the end of the game, the team with the most points wins.

Kite flying is a popular tradition in various Asian countries, including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan. 

Kite flying is a national sport in Afghanistan with an 800-year-old tradition. It’s considered to be an art form and has been a part of the lives of Afghans for hundreds of years. 

Theres also a tradition of flying kites (also known as Patang Bazi) in Pakistan too, especially during Basant, a spring time festival. 

Young people make kites out of paper, then have battles to try to knock each others kites out of the sky. Take a look at how to upcycle your own kite out of a plastic bag.

Kho-kho is a traditional Indian game that encourages teamwork. 

For this game, youll need a timer, two poles or cones, and a way to mark out the playing space, such as chalk, cones, or masking tape.

Mark out a rectangular playing area. Draw a centre line down the middle and place two poles or cones at each end of the playing area.

Everyone should be divided into two equal teams, with between six and twelve players on each team. One team are the chasers and the other are the defenders. 

The chasers line up on the middle line, with the chasers facing in alternate directions along the line. There should be a gap between each player. A chaser can only chaseon the side of the pitch theyre facing.

The defending team should line up on one end of the playing area. Defenders can run anywhere in the playing area, including on both sides.

On Go, the defenders enter the field in groups of three. Decide whos running together before starting the game. 

The chaser at one end of the line starts. That chaser must run and try to tag one of the defenders on the side of the field they’re facing. If a defender gets tagged, theyre out and should step off the playing area.

However, the defenders could move to the opposite side of the pitch. If a defender crosses the line to the other side, the chaser runs back to the line and taps one of their teammates, whos facing in the other direction, and shouts Kho!This person then becomes the chaser and the previous chaser rejoins the line, standing in the direction they were previously facing.

The new chaser must then try to tag any defender on their side. Chasers can swap with a teammate every time a defender moves into the opposite side of the pitch.

The chasers aim is to tag all the defenders quickly. The game ends when all the defenders have been tagged and the teams swap roles. The team that gets the defenders out the quickest, wins.

Gandu Filla is a traditional game in the Maldives. 

For this game, youll need a duvet cover or blanket.

Choose someone to be the guesser. The guesser needs to leave the space or stand away from the group, so they cant hear or see whos chosen to hide.

Pick a person to be the hider. The hider should hide inside a sheet, such as a duvet cover, known as gandu. They could also hide under a blanket.

Everyone else should then hide elsewhere in the space. 

When the guesser returns to the space, they must say or sing, ‘Gandu heley heley.’ 

At this point, the player inside the sheet must shake and move, but stay silent, so they dont give away their identity.

If the guesser figures out who it is, they win.

The person inside the sheet becomes the next guesser and the game is played again, with someone new in the sheet.

Crab racing is a popular game in the Maldives. You can have your own crab race, using people instead of crabs. 

For this game, youll need some markers, such as cones, flags or chalk. Mark out a start and finish line over a short distance. 

Everyone needs to get into the crab position, also known as a bridge. To make a bridge, lie on your back and bend your knees. Bend your elbows and bring your hands up beside your ears. Place your palms flat on the ground with your fingers facing your toes. Push yourself up into the bridge. To achieve this, you need to push with your legs to get your legs, hips, back, and chest off the ground. At the same time, use your arms to push your head, neck, and shoulders off the ground as well.

Let everyone have a little practice at getting into the bridge position. Remind everyone to take their time, go slowly, and remember they can stop and rest if they need to during the race.

Let everyone gather and get into position on the start line.

When you’re ready, shout ‘Go!and players can start slowly moving towards the finish line.

People should take care, make sure to be aware of their surroundings and each other, and stop if they need to.

The first person to cross the line is the fastest crab!

If people struggle to do the bridge position, you could also make a crab position by having everyone stand facing sideways. They then need to stand with their feet wide apart and slightly squatted, making crab claws with their hands. In this position, everyone would need to move sideways across the space.

Marbles is a popular game in South Asian countries. This game is also known as kelereng. Some Indian games involving marbles are also known as Kancha or Kanche, or Golli Gundu. 

For this game, youll need a set of marbles per pair and a way to mark out a circle, such as with string or chalk.

Everyone needs to get into pairs.

Scatter the marbles within the boundaries of the circle. The more marbles you start with, the longer the game of marbles will be.

You’ll also need one shooter marble for every player. You can identify a shooter marble because it’s larger than the other marbles in the set.

The goal is to score points by knocking marbles outside the circle using your shooter marble.

Choose a player to go first.

The first shot is taken from outside the ring. The shooter cradles the marble in the crook of their index finger and flicks it toward the marbles inside the ring.

If a player knocks a marble outside the ring, they score a point.

When a player successfully knocks another marble out of the ring, they continue taking turns until they miss.

If a shooter remains inside the ring, the shooter must take their next shot from its position.

If a shooter goes outside the ring, the shooter can position their marble anywhere outside the circle on their next turn.

The game is over when all marbles have been knocked out of the ring.

The winner holds the highest number of points because they knocked the most marbles out of the ring.

Baraf Paani/Baraf Pani is a popular game in Pakistan. It means ice and water, and it’s a version of freeze tag.

For this game, youll need a large space. You may want a way to identify it, such as by using sports bib, sports sash or necker.

One player is selected to be it. Everyone else should spread out around the space. 

‘It’ should move to the centre of the playing area and counts to three. Then the game begins.

Ithas to chase after all the other players.

If ‘it’ tags a player and says 'Baraf,’ the tagged player has to freeze in place. That tagged player can’t move at all, until another player comes and touches them and says 'Paani.’ The first player is now ‘defrosted’ and is free to move again.

When itfreezes all of the players at once, the game ends. Or, if ‘it’ freezes someone three times, it’s their turn to be it’. 

Chor Police is similar to Cops and Robbers. The Chor Police game is played in several countries under different names and with a set of different rules formed by local players. Its origin is not known. It’s played across South East Asia.

For this game, youll need a large space and cones. You may want a way to identify it, you could use a sports bib, sports sash or necker.

Mark out a square jail using cones.

Choose one quarter of the group to be the Police (the Cops) who’ll need to work together to try to catch the Chors.

Everyone else will be the other team, the Chors (the Robbers).

Tell everyone where the jail is. Thisll be the square of cones, though you could also make the jail a section of the playing area, such as a picnic bench. Make sure the jail is easily accessible to everybody.

When the game starts, the Police have to catch the Chors. If a Police catches a Chor, the Police leads the Chor to the jail. 

The Chor has to stay there until another untagged member of their team comes to the jail, tags them and says, Youre free.’

The Chor is then free from the jail and can run again.

However, if nobody comes and ‘frees’ the Chor, they can’t escape.

A jailed Chor can’t free another jailed Chor.

You may want an adult volunteer or Young Leader to be the ‘jailer’ and stand in the jail to make sure all the escapees are freed fairly.

When all the Chors are caught by the police, the game ends.

Dog and the Bone is also known by various names in India, such as ‘Cheel Jhapatta.’ In other parts of the world, it’s also known as ‘Steal the bacon.’

For this game, youll need a large space, a beanbag or ball, and cones. You may want a way to identify teams,  you could use a sports bib, sports sash or necker.

Mark out a dividing line across the space with cones.

Divide everyone into two teams. Players are assigned a number, which is shared by someone on the opposing team.

Each team should line up on their side of the space, each the same distance from the middle, dividing line.

Place a beanbag on the dividing line in the centre of the field. This is the bone. 

An adult volunteer or Young Leader should be the referee. The referee shouts out a number and the players with those numbers must run to the centre and try to grab the beanbag, or bone. 

The first person to grab the beanbag has to pick it up and try to take it back to their team. If they make it back to their team with the object, their team gets a point. 

The opposing player, who didnt get the beanbag, has to try to tag the player with the beanbag before they make it back to their teams side. If tagged, the taggers team gets the point.  

A player cant be tagged before theyve touched the bone. 

The referee may call out more than one number. All players with that number can each attempt to steal the bone, or tag the player who has the bone.

The referee may also call dog and bonein which all players on both sides may attempt to steal the beanbag.

Seven Stones is one of the most ancient, traditional games of the Indian subcontinent. This traditional sport has been played for the last 5,000 years.

For this game, youll need a large space, a way to mark out a space, a timer, a soft foam ball, and something to build a tower out of. Wed recommend using soft foam dice or soft wooden building blocks to build the tower.

Mark out a space on the floor where the tower will be built, such as inside a hula hoop, a square of cones, or a chalk circle. 

Mark out a line at a suitable distance from the tower where the hitters can throw from. It could be marked out with string, chalk or cones. You may want to put this closer to or further back from the seekers tower building area, depending on the age and ability of your group.

Divide the group into two equal teams. Each team will take turns at either being the seekersor the hitters. 

The seekers should build a 7 or 10 high tower in their space. They should then stand back from the tower and get ready to try to catch the hitters ball if they miss the tower, or get ready to start rebuilding the tower quickly. 

A member of the hitters is chosen to go first. They then throw a ball at the tower to knock it over:

  • If the person trying to knock down the tower cant do it in three tries, theyre considered out. The ball goes to another hitter and they should try, and so on, until the tower is knocked down.
  • If the hitter's ball doesnt knock down the pile and is caught by an opponent four times after the first bounce then the thrower is out.

The seekers can try to catch the ball to get the hitter out:

  • If the hitters ball doesnt knock down the pile, bounces and is then caught by a seeker, then the thrower is out.
  • If the ball is thrown by the hitter and hits the piles, but an opposite team member catches the ball, then the whole team is out.

If the tower is hit, the seekers must try to restore the tower. 

The hitters' objective is to hit the seekers with the ball before they can reconstruct the stone pile.

Hitters can’t run with the ball to hit the seekers.

The seekers should try to dodge the ball, staying safe from the hittersthrows. 

If the ball touches a seeker, that seeker is out. They stand out of the game. The seekers continue to build the tower.

The seekers, after restoring the pile of stones, say the game's name to announce the reconstruction of the pile of stones. A seeker can always guard themselves by touching a hitter, before the ball hits the seeker.

The hitters then try to knock the tower down again, until all the seekers are out. The teams then swap over. Whoever gets all the seekers out in the fastest time, wins.

River or Mountain is a game where the field is divided into areas, referred to as ‘rivers’ and ‘mountains'. It’s known as Nadee-Parvat in Hindi, and Nadi ki Pahad in Marathi and other regional languages.

For this game, youll need a large space and a way to divide the playing area into two sides, such as cones or chalk. 

Divide the space into two areas and let everyone know which side is riversand which side is mountains. You may want to label each side, such as with paper signs.

Choose someone to be it. Itstands in the middle of the space. Everyone else should line up on one side. 

At the start of play, itshouts out either riveror mountain. 

All players then try to move across to the correct area thats been shouted out.

While outside those areas, the players can be tagged by it.

Anyone tagged is out and the last player to be tagged is the winner.

Chain tag is a popular game in India. For this game, youll need a large space and yourselves.

In chain tag, choose someone to be it.

Everyone else should spread out across the space. 

On ‘Go!’, the person who’s it has to try to tag another player.

When tagged, the tagged player joins hands with the person who was originally ‘it’ and becomes ‘it’ as well.

Now holding hands, the two people who are itnow continue to tag people together.

As people get tagged, they join and remain in a human chain by holding hands with the taggers, so the chain gets longer and longer.

They shouldnt let go of hands and break the chain. If they do, they need to rejoin together and cant tag people while the chain isnt complete.

Only the two players at either end of the chain can tag the remaining players, since they have a free hand not trapped in the chain.

The game ends once all players have been tagged, with the last person tagged being the winner.

Kokla Chappaki is a traditional game played in the streets of Punjab of India.

This game has been adopted by children in other parts of India with slight modifications and different names, such as Ghodha Chamar Khai.

For this game, youll need a large space and a handkerchief, though you could use a necker.

Choose one person to be the ‘seeker’. Ask everyone else to sit in a circle. The seekertakes the handkerchief and runs around the circle.

The seeker stealthily drops the handkerchief behind one of the players sitting in the circle and keeps circling.

The players sitting in the circle have to be alert at all times. They should be able to realise that the handkerchief has been dropped behind them. 

The player who has the handkerchief dropped behind them, when realising, then picks it up. They then chase the seeker, who races around the circle and tries to get back to the other person's space without getting tagged. 

If tagged, the seeker remains the seeker and the game continues. 

If the seeker makes it back to the space, the person who was tagged becomes the seeker and the game continues. 

A line of Beavers standing outside, while one of them leans to the side and smiles at the camera.

Staying safe

All activities must be safely managed. Always get approval for the activity and have suitable supervision and an InTouch process.

You need to complete a risk assessment and take appropriate steps to reduce risk. Use the safety checklist to help you plan and risk assess your activity. Take a look at our guidance to help you carry out your risk assessment, including examples. 

Make sure you’ll have enough adult helpers. You may need some parents and carers to help if you’re short on helpers. Don’t forget to make sure all young people and adults involved in the activity know how to take part safely.

Making games accessible

Make sure there’s a way to include everyone in this game or activity. If anyone doesn’t feel comfortable playing the game or taking part in the activity, give them the opportunity to take on another role instead. Some examples are timing the games, scorekeeping, playing or stopping music, or refereeing.

For anyone who may not be able to hear the activities, consider printing them a version on paper that they can read at the same time. You could also provide written instructions electronically to allow use of magnification software. Try to use size 12 font and either ‘Arial’ or ‘Nunito Sans’, as this is easier for lots of people to read.

Take time and have patience while telling everyone what to do. Give short instructions clearly and concisely. If you need to, pause, then repeat the same instruction using the same words.

Remember to keep instructions short and precise and be prepared to repeat these. It’s best to break information up into smaller 'chunks', so the person doesn’t feel overwhelmed. You can check for understanding by asking questions, such as ‘What do you need to do first?’.

You could have a practice round of the game to make sure everyone knows what they’re doing. Let young people help explain to each other what to do, too.

Remember when giving instructions, some people may not look at you or make eye contact. This doesn’t mean they're not listening. Eye contact can be painful for some people and shouldn't be forced.

If a player has difficulties communicating verbally, you could explore doing this activity without speaking. Remember not to speak for a young person but help them to develop their communication. For example, a closed choice can be easier to make than an open question.

If a young person mis-says a sentence, you could repeat it after them in the correct form - this will help them learn for next time and is much more useful than saying what they said is wrong or ‘correcting’ them.

Adapt the throwing and catching activities, so that they’ll work for everyone in your section. For example, you could use a lighter ball, such as a beach ball.

You can allow people to roll the ball or throw the ball in pairs.

If anyone struggles with fine motor skills, they could use larger materials. You could swap out the items, such as beanbags, for something easier to handle, such as foam footballs.

People could be supported by a friend, an adult volunteer or young leader to pull, push, collect, carry or throw the items. Let them work with a partner and they can throw, collect or move the object together.

Remind people it’s about taking part and having fun, not being having the most accurate or best throw.

If anyone needs support in the collecting or moving of objects or tokens, let them work closely with someone else to help them achieve this.

Try to avoid shouting or using whistles. Some people may not understand why you're shouting and could find this distressing, particularly if they're hypersensitive to noise. 

During games, make sure individuals who need to can clearly see the person speaking, as they may find it helpful to read lips or body language.

If it’s too noisy and anyone doesn’t like the noise, the person leading the activity can remind everyone to be quieter. You could provide ear defenders for the person to wear.

You could have a noise level warning system to let everyone know when it gets too loud, allow people to take noise breaks, and shut external doors and windows to help reduce noise.

To take part in a noisy activity, a young person with a hearing impairment might find it more comfortable to turn their hearing aid off. If this is their regular practice, you'll need to make sure that it's turned on again afterwards.

A lot of these games can be played sitting or standing, either on the floor or on chairs. Make sure to adapt to whichever way works best for everyone and make sure any actions are things everyone can do.

Choose an area that’s suitable for all members of your group. You could visit the area early and remove any large or obvious obstacles. Think about the space you’ll be in and the equipment you’re using in advance to make sure it’s accessible to everyone in the group, including wheelchair users.

The equipment and circle should be laid out in a way that’s accessible to everyone, so making sure there’s access for everyone to move round the outside of a circle.

You should think about how everyone moves around the space and the actions they've to perform.

Everyone can move around the space in whatever way works for them, whether that's walking, staying still or running.

Some people may choose to guard a den or take on a more stationary role.

You could think about how people are tagged. If people may struggle to tag each other, or may be uncomfortable or sensitive to touch, you could use tag rugby velcro belts and people need to pull off a velcro tag to tag someone.

Some people might not like how it feels to touch some items of equipment. They could wear gloves, or someone else could move or touch the item for them. They could also use another object or utensil to be able to use, touch, put something on or move the item.

If anyone doesn’t want to hold the rope because of how it feels, they could make a handle cover with some fabric or even tie your necker to the rope to hold.

Chat to the person to find out what materials they’d be comfortable holding.

No-one should be forced to touch something they feel uncomfortable with doing, as it may be distressing for them.

For anyone who may have a loss of sight, you could think about using larger containers and objects. Remember to have any writing in a clear, large and easy to read font.

If anyone's colour blind, make sure to have distinct colour markers and tokens to help them to tell each one apart.

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