Hide and Seek Game in Sangam Tamil literature (Post No.3555)

Written by London swaminathan


Date: 18 January 2017


Time uploaded in London:- 20-37


Post No.3555



Pictures are taken from different sources; thanks.




contact; swami_48@yahoo.com



Hide and seek game is played all over the world. There is no wonder that it is played everywhere because it is happening in every home. A mother knows that when she is away the child cries. She has found out how she can make a child to cry and then to cheer it up. So just to make it laugh loudly she closes her face and then suddenly opens it with some words or sound, then the child bursts into laughter. C Sometimes she hides herself behind the door or a curtain and the child cries. Cave men also would have played this with his sons to surprise them. Later it would have developed into a proper game with all the rules.

Greek recorded hide and seek in the second century CE. But Hindu Puranas and Tamil literature recorded it even before that.

I have played it in my school days. Once a person in a group finds one of the playmates then we ask him to count hundred facing the wall and then all of us hid ourselves in small lanes, upstairs, under the beds etc. Though we know that it is a world wide game played even today in some parts of the world, one would seek some historical information about this game. We are fortunate to have some references in Sangam literature and later Kamba Ramayana.


In the ancient Tamil speaking world, it has been a woman’s game. One lady is blindfolded and all her friends run and hid themselves. Then this lady goes in search of her. Another way of playing is to blindfold one lady with a towel and all others sorround her and make funny remarks or clap their hands from different directions. The blindfolded lady should find her target/victim tracking her friends’ voices. Either way it is interesting.


We have two references in Sangam Tamil Literature :


Ainkurunuru verse 293


Malaipadukadam Line 221

The advantages of this game are

Any number of people can play

Any time you can play

It can be played indoor ( for kids) and outdoor for adults

Ancient Tamils would have played it in parks and village temples

It is a good  exercise for adults.

You don’t need to spend a penny; it is free

You don’t need any instrument or coins or equipments

It gives a great mental relief.

There is no time limit, one can play as much as one wishes


Sangam literature is 2000 year old. We have a reference in Kamba Ramayana which gives a good description of the game:


A rough translation of the verse on Balakandam:

Oh my honey! My flower like girl! My Gold! Find me if you can. When the lady is struggling to find her friend, she jumps out from nowhere to come behind her and cover the lady’s eyes saying ‘look at me now’. She is surprised and all others laugh and tease her.


We have similar stories in the Puranas.  Parvati played hide and seek with Siva and the whole world became dark when she covered Siva’s eyes. Then Siva opened his Third Eye to drive away the darkness.


Following is a BBC story:-

World’s biggest ‘hide-and-seek’ bid starts at Milton Country Park

More than 1,000 people have turned out at a country park in a bid to break the world record for the the biggest ever game of hide-and-seek.

The current Guinness record for a hide-and-seek game involved 1,437 people.

The record-breaking attempt at Milton Country Park near Cambridge was organised by Cambridgeshire Search and Rescue (CamSAR).

It is understood the total turnout, while “close”, was just short of the world record-breaking target.

The exact number has yet to be confirmed.

The search group hosted a hide and seek competition in 2014 which attracted 400 people and another last year which drew in 1,100.

A spokesman for CamSAR said: “If all (those) who had pre-registered had come then we would have just beaten the record.

“Still, probably more importantly, those who spoke to me said they were having a great time at least.”

CamSAR is expected to consider another record-attempt next year.


The current record was set on 1 January 2014 in Chengdu, China.

  • Hide and seek in painting


  • According to the Encyclopaedia Brittannica, hide-and-seek appears to be equivalent to the game apodidraskinda, described by the 2nd-century Greek writer Julius Pollux


(Hindu Literature referred to it even before second century)

  • Versions of the game exist across the globe. In Spain the game is called el escondite, in Israel machboim and in South Korea sumbaggoggil
  • Key elements in all the versions of the game are the closing of eyes, hiding and an agreed period of counting




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