India's national passions are cricket and films. Introduced by the British, cricket is a slow game (a match can last five days), perfectly suited to the warm Indian climate and pace of life. Teams from all states compete, with players selected for the national team, which has achieved world standing. During international matches, people listen to radio broadcasts everywhere.

India is the world's leading film-producing country, and watching movies is a favourite activity. Lately, television has rivalled films in popularity. India has many regionally produced shows as well as national productions. As elsewhere, many Indian families enjoy spending the evening sitting together and watching the latest shows.

Children often prefer more active games, many of which do not require elaborate equipment. Throwing and batting games are popular. String tops, marbles, cards and kites are favoured by young boys; girls prefer jacks and crafts. Popular with both sexes, kho kho and khabbaddi are two varieties of tag, which are played with teams on large fields. State and national championships are held by the Kho Kho and Khabbadi Federations. Other popular sports include football (soccer), horse racing and field hockey-a sport in which India has won eight Olympic medals, including six gold.

Board games have a long history in India. Played by a maximum of four players, carom uses nine black and nine white coins, plus one pink coin called the queen. Players must send the coins into one of the four corner pockets attached to the board. Chess, another popular game, originated in India in the 16th century.

  Did you know?
Karnam Malleswari won a bronze medal for weightlifting in the 2000 Olympics. Laendar Paes Mahesh Bhupathi won the doubles at Wimbleton in 1999.

  Did you know?
Sachin Tendulkar is one of India's top cricket players. He holds the world record for scoring the most runs in a World Cup tournament: 523 in seven matches during the 1996 World Cup.