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The History of Snakes & Ladders

Karen Dorn

What a fun game snakes and ladders is, wouldn’t you agree. I bet you would like to know where the game came from, well let me tell you all about this magical extraordinary game. 

It was first found and played in ancient India. It was very popular by the name of Moksha Patamu and was invented by Hindu Spiritual teachers. The game was called "Leela" - and reflected the Hinduism consciousness around everyday life. Another name for it was the ladder to salvation, the game then made its perilous journey to Victorian England where a newer version was introduced by John Jacques in 1892. It also made its way into the USA by game inventor Milton Bradley in 1943. It was then given the name Snakes and ladders.

The children in India played the game the most because it was part of their education to know the effects of good deeds as opposed to bad deeds. The ladders represent values such as kindness; faith, humility and the snakes are the bad omen, which represent bad luck, anger, murder etc. The moral of the game is that a person can attain salvation through performing righteous good deeds whereas the evil ones which are the snakes takes rebirth in lower forms of life.

The last number on the board, which is 100, represents the Salvation. The aim of the game is to reach the number 100 on the snakes and ladders board. The game usually involves two or more players.

The simple rules of the games are you and your friends take turns in throwing the dice and what ever number the dice lands on, you move your wooden stool across the board and when you step on an square which has a ladder going up, you move right up to the top of the ladder, to the higher number square, however if you land on a square which has a snakes head you slide back down right to the lower number square, so you keep on rolling the dice and moving across the board until you reach the last number of the board which is 100.

If you roll the dice and score a six then you get two goes. When you reached the number 100, you have attained salvation, you have won!
What’s great about this game is that anyone of any age can play it; it is a game where you have one specific aim, to reach the end, there is also two main elements in this game, the snakes verses the ladders, good verses evil. This makes the game more challenging and fun. 
Most importantly it is a game, which triggers two emotions such as hope and despair, you feel hope when you climb the ladder and reach to the last number on the board, and you feel despair when you slide down the snake’s head. So go on have a try and get the dice rolling and see if you will reach salvation.


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