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Friday, November 7, 2014

gilli, goli ..... and driving cycle tyre ~ ‘hoop rolling’ !

Wellesley College is a private women's liberal-arts college in the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, United States, west of Boston. Founded in 1870, Wellesley is a member of the original Seven Sisters Colleges and is consistently ranked among the top 10 liberal arts colleges in the United States.

A couple of months ago Alex Poon ’14,  won the  College’s 119th Annual Hooprolling competition.  Poon is from McLean, Va., and majors in computer science. As it suggests, this competition is being conducted for more than 100 years.  Ever since its origin,  the senior class has gathered early one morning near the end of the academic year dressed in their Commencement gowns and class colours. At a signal, the seniors race down Tupelo Lane, pushing their hoops and vying for the honor of being thrown into Lake Waban. How the College defines success, which is promised to the winner, has changed throughout the decades. Originally the winner was said to be the first to marry, later the first to become a CEO, and now is said to be the first to achieve success however they define it.

One may not read anything on the news above without realising its connection.  Not sure whether this happens even in small villages now. Almost half a century ago,  children used to play on roads in the city of Chennai aka Madras. They had little of playthings – most of the play tools were the ones discarded in some manner.

Other than Cricket, Gilli thandu, Goli (marbles) bambaram (tops) …. Hide and seek – was this rustic game – driving cycle – not exactly a bi-cycle, which was a luxury – most heads of family had one – would keep them well-oiled and shining –not many would allow the cycle tobe touched and driven by kids – those who get a chance would drive with half-pedal (kurangu pedal – monkey pedalling)

What gave the youngsters pleasure was the [old worn-out] cycle tyre – kids would run enthusiastically guiding the cycle tyre either by hand or with small sticks, turning, putting eights and in all feeling as if they were driving a royal cycle.  There were symbolical races and hard fought fights of colliding one with other, seeing which remains without falling for long. Those of us who played these games will understand the pleasure and recall them instantly  [sure the modern day compu savvy whizkid never knows these]………….. and do you know that it is not a local sport – perhaps another colonial vestige with name ‘hoop rolling’ !

Now this is what you would read when you google ‘Hoop rolling’ -  also called hoop trundling, is both a sport and a child's game in which a large hoop is rolled along the ground, generally by means of an implement wielded by the player. The aim of the game is to keep the hoop upright for long periods of time or to do various tricks.

Hoop rolling has been documented since antiquity in Africa, Asia and Europe. Played as a target game it is an ancient tradition among widely dispersed aboriginal societies. In Asia, the earliest records date from ancient China, and in Europe from Ancient Greece. The Greeks referred to the hoop as the trochus. Hoop rolling was practised in the gymnasium, and the hoop was also used for tumbling and dance with different techniques. The hoop held symbolic meanings in Greek myth and culture. A bronze hoop was one of the toys of the infant Dionysus, and hoop driving is an attribute of Ganymede, often depicted on Greek vase paintings from the 5th century BCE.

Wellesley College has been conducting hoop rolling competition for more than a century.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
17th Oct 2o14


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