Indians and Card Games

Card games are a unique and prominent highlight when it comes to entertainment in Indian society. They have been an integral part of India’s culture and many regional traditions for many centuries. Playing a card game is especially popular in families and social gatherings of local communities as a pastime. The association of India with different card game variants goes way back to the time of Mughals. Despite the prevalence of online gaming in the present times, playing cards are still a common pastime in India. Let us take a look at how playing cards started in India and the country’s association with the game.

Origins of Card Game in India

  • The Mughal emperors brought card games into India in the 16th century. The emperors patronized a particular game known as ‘Ganjifa.’
  • As a matter of fact, the name “Ganjifa” comes from the Persian word “ganjifeh,” which means playing cards.
  • The earliest references of this card game are evident in the biography of Babur, the founder of the Mughal empire in India.
  • “Ganjifa” was played in the royal court with ornate sets of cards crafted from tortoiseshell or ivory.
  • Gradually, the game expanded to the general public with the availability of inexpensive cards made of wood or palm leaf.

Another Interesting Angle to the Story

Accounts regarding the origins of card games in India also point out another popular fable. An Indian legend states that playing cards in India started due to the boredom of female royalty. Another legend states that the wife of an Indian king was disturbed due to her husband’s habit of pulling hair from his beard constantly. Therefore, the king’s wife developed the idea of playing a game with cards to entertain herself and keep her husband away from his beard.

  • The shape of Indian cards, in the beginning, was round and not rectangular.
  • The diameter of the cards was between 1.5 to 4.5 inches.
  • The cards included different suits such as soldiers, ships, women, horses, elephants, demons, and others.
  • The design of the card sets differed according to the artisan. For example, the “Dashavatara” design in Ganjifa presented the designs of cards on the basis of ten avatars of the holy deity, Lord Vishnu.

Rapidly Increasing Adoption of Online Platforms

Another notable factor that shows the strength of the relationship between India and card games is the adoption of online platforms for playing cards. Nowadays, you can find various websites and apps that provide ideal platforms for playing their favourite type of card game. Furthermore, online platforms draw numerous young players seeking alternative methods for entertainment. The online platforms offer different variants of games such as Rummy, Bridge, Bluff, Poker, or Twenty-Nine.


Therefore, we can clearly notice that the popularity of different card game variants in India is unlikely to fade away. Apart from the strong association with Indian culture, every card game has a particular significance in regional traditions. Furthermore, the improvements in online platforms for card games is increasing the proportion of people playing cards in India. Learn your favourite card game and become a participant in India’s rich cultural heritage right now!

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