The Badaga dance

One of the prominent Badagas who is involved in many developmental activities associated with Badagas is Mr.T.Rangaiah from Kothiben. He is well known and deeply involved with Tea Board. He is a quiet and unassuming person. In one of my recent meetings with him he mentioned about the Badaga dance.

In olden days, Badaga dance was almost always performed by the artists wearing a typical dress called ‘Dodda Kuppacha’ – a two piece attire in white consisting of a top ‘waist coat’ like what the Rajasthani rural folks wear and a bottom skirt. Since the badaga dance is based on many steps in which the dancers go around [revolving] in circles, these skirts open up making a beautiful sight.

Badagas, in their DHODDA KUPPACHA (a flowing gown like attire) dancing to Kota music. Photo drawing from : ‘Counsel from the Ancients – A study of Badaga Proverbs, Prayers, Omens and Curses’ (Prof;Paul Hockings)

Whenever, any dignitary visited the Nilgiris in those days, it was always the Badagas who would present a dance – both for welcoming the guests and for entertainment – with the Kothas providing the music called ‘harakolu’.

But of late, the Kothas have adopted the Badaga dance. The Nilgiris district admin consisting of ‘babus’ who are reluctant to accept the fact the Badagas are one of the original inhabitants of the Nilgiris like the Todas and Kothas, have been presenting Kothas’ dance much more than the original Badaga Dance.

Mr.Rangaiah also mentioned about a ‘traditional door’ kept in the Tea Board/UPASI complex ‘museum’  in which the Badagas are NOT mentioned along with others as the tribes of the Nilgiris.

You guessed it, the door was presented  by none other than some Badagas from Kotagiri.

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