C7 Seppälä: Play (safe) and ponder

Heidi Annika Seppälä


This is an invitation for all Corona-time artists to re-unite after quarantine to unload thoughts, doubts and struggles we all have in common. 

The game board is a variation of what we know as “Snakes and Ladders”.
The original game comes from India where it is called Moksha Patam or Parama Padam or Mokshapat. Ancient seers of India used to come up with many board games to drive the notion of fate and free will in a fun way. Moksha Patam originates from 13th century, created by poet saint Gyandev. 

Moksha Patam was used to teach karma, Hindu Dharma and Hindu values to children. The British took the game to England in 1892 and named it Snakes and Ladders and changed it according to Victorian values. 

The ladders in the game represented virtues and the snakes indicated vices. The game was played with cowrie shells and dices. No one can control the throw of the dice, thus dice represents fate. If your fate is good, you will land on a box which has the base of a ladder. It will help you rise to a better place. This is fortune. If your fate is bad, you will land on a box which has the head of a snake. You will slip down. This is misfortune. This game teaches fatalism. There is nothing you can do but accept the throw of the dice and pray the next throw will be in your favour.

In our Corona-version, we have the original faith squares and additional scenarios from real life. Today, instead of reaching Nirvana, we are trying to reach salvation from Covid-19. It’s an uncertain game during an uncertain time and so the rules in our game are to some extent down to interpretation. Instead of starting from the square one, we let the faith decide which square each of us starts. Just like in real life, some of us just have to work harder. And instead of rolling the dice in an order, we pass the ball to who we want, or consider most suitable to continue after us. Instead of learning about Karma, which the player may if they will, the intention is to connect back to social life and create conversation about something we have all been experiencing in our isolated spheres.

The conversations of summer symposium gaming will be recorded and edited as a conversation piece afterwards.

“Our failings have culminated in a humongous COVID -19 serpent to swallow frail humanity. I wonder if this is an important life lesson teaching us that if we hold tight to the five ladders of virtue and not take life on this planet for granted, we might survive. Now that we are all stuck on the 99th square, let’s look inward and try to reinvent better habits. This may be our last chance to roll the dice. (Monita Noni, Writer)

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