Five Popular Card Games
Card Games

Five Popular Card Games

Origin and history of card games

Krida-patram was the name of the game of cards that originated in ancient India. It was the favorite pastime of kings and the royal and the noble families. Playing cards came to be known as Ganjifa in medieval India. The Moghul emperors also were no exception to the game of cards. Akbar’s court author Abul Fazal has documented the use of 12 sets of cards with 12 cards in each and a total of 144 cards. Before Akbar’s time, cards, came in sets of 8, 9, and 10 representing the Ashtadikpalas (rulers of 8 directions), Navagrahas (9 planets), and the Dashavatars (10 avatars of Lord Vishnu). Anecdotes in the form of motifs from the two major Indian epics or itihasas of Ramayana and Mahabharata were also depicted on these cards.

Types of cards

The pack of cards was led by the monarch on a horse (Ashvapati) followed by a general on horseback (Senapati), and 10 other cards from 1 to 10 with that many number of horses printed on each card. Similarly there were packs of cards led by a king on an elephant (Gajapati), king leading infantry (Narpati), lord of treasures (Dhanpati), squadron (Dhalpati), navy (Navappati), divinities (Surapati), genii (Asrapati), forest (Vanapati), and snakes (Ahipati). The Moghul era cards used various segments of traders such as painters, book binders, dyers, manufacturers, etc,.

Materials used to make cards

These Ganjifa cards were made from cloth with a black border and specially made colors, typically as pattachitras in Orissa. According to their wealth, royals and nobles also used cards made of tortoise shells, ivory, pearls, inlaid or enameled with precious stones or metals. They came in all shapes like circular, rectangular, and oval. Circular ones were used widely. A wooden box with its lid painted with mythological figures was used to hold the cards. Later in the 17th and the 18th centuries, when the Europeans started colonizing India, our traditional cards were replaced by the printed paper cards.

Cards as learning aids

With such a rich history behind them, cards or flash cards, besides our regular playing cards are a good learning aid for kids. A card with an interesting visual helps children to understand the concept portrayed easily, such as shapes, colors, vegetables, fruits, flowers, opposites, singular, plurals, etc,. Cards are also widely used as aids in psychology.

Here are some of the popular card games to keep your children engaged while they snuggle in their woolens on a cold wintry evening:


This is the card version of the popular board game where the players get to buy, sell, lease their properties, collect cash or go bankrupt. Monopoly is all about developing that competitive streak in your children.

Sleeping Queens

If you are looking for some fun ways to help your children with their basic math, go order this one. When a player gets to win 5 queens or 50 points worth of queens or 4 queens or 40 points worth of queens, or when all the queens in the pack are awakened, the game ends. Getting simple addition equations between three cards help in discarding them and so this is a good game to improve your children’s numerical skills.


If this reminds you of the Harry Potter Quidditch game, well this is closer to English than magic. The card version of scrabbles, this game can help improve your kids’ vocabulary.

5 Second Rule

Buy this game of 5 Second Rule for your kids to improve their skill of association and develop their ability to think quickly. The game is simple to understand. A kid needs to pick a card, read the topic and think of 3 things that go with the topic – easy, right! Well, may not be that easy, since the time to do so is just 5 seconds. That is why this is so fun as you see your kids falling over their words and pulling out their hairs.


Having been around since the 1970s, this game is one of the most popular among kids and adults. All it requires is to match the numbers and colors thereby stimulating your children’s gadget tired eyes. The winner is the child who has managed to discard all the cards. But just when they start relaxing counting as the cards in their hands become fewer, there are enough cards to jolt them out of their complacency like “Pick Up 4” or “Skip your turn” cards. This one is a good game to teach children to handle disappointments in life. Next time, when you run out of options to have some family time with your kids, go grab a card game from the shelves.

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