Monthly Archives: February 2012

Kinnakorai – ‘revisited’

When I received Raghu Prakash‘s  email along with pictures of Bellie Gowder and his gracious wife Sennai Ammal my mind went back to to the memorable visit to Kinnakorai and Hiriyaseegai. Raghu Prakash writes“….pix of Belli gowder (brother of Sarangi Gowder) and his wife.A man with a wealth of knowledge on Badugas, cows and buffalos and farming. I have spent hours talking to him on the history of Kinnakorai and fortunately he loves to talk when I show interest.


Photo shot in 2005. He is over 90 now and the oldest alive in Kinnakorai”.

Thank you Raghu.

Here is the article I had written after my visit

“It has been in my mind for a long time, to visit KINNAKORAY and HIRIYASEEGAY villages.

For the simple reason that they are quite far off from the main towns of Ooty and Coonoor and I was sure that the sheer distance from the maddening crowd would help these hattis to retain the old world charm of ORIGINAL BADAGAS. To add to my curiosity, part of the lands – holas and thottas [agricultural fields and tea estates]- of these villages fall under the jurisdiction of Kerala. That too in the forest areas of the stunning silent valley region.

I wondered,’could it be also a point to prove the theory that Badagas are one of the original inhabitants of the Nilgiris massif as Kinnakorai and Hiriyaseegay are far away from the Mysore plains from which it is generally assumed that Badaga migration started. Imagine, the sheer determination of our ancestors to choose such places to build their villages amidst thick forests that are cut off from the ‘world’ literally.

Some time earlier, Dr.Sudhakar wrote from Dubai to say that Kinnakorai belongs to Porangadu Seemae and not to Kunday Seemae as I had assumed (based on Dr.P.Hockings findings).

Recently a young budding engineer Anand wrote to say the same thing. Kinnakorai is part of Porangadu. I could not wait any longer. Availing an opportunity of a visit to Ketchigatti (Manjoor), and unable to resist the ‘open invitation’ of Anand [whom I have not met so far], I visited Kinnakorai on 9th Jan, 2011 along with my better half who shares my passion for and about Badagas. Kinnakorai is about two hours of journey from Manjoor via Mel Kunday and Thiasolai [is it THAI SOLAI or THIASOLAI?]. By the way Manjoor itself is about 2 hours journey from Hubbathalai (Coonoor).

As Anand had mentioned the climate changes dramatically without any warning. The day we travelled, the winter mist covered the road forcing us to use fog lamps but adding to the mystique and unique experience.

Every minute of the visit was worth it and I feel very happy that I have seen a bit of Badaga heritage and would strongly recommend that every Badaga should visit this wonderful place.

[read the complete article here]


I found this information quite amazing…and educative

Nive (Bearhatty) commented on I found this info

Really this information is much useful to all of us…..
We all just tend to follow what we were taught in our childhood and what all we see in our life from others without knowing reasons and values…. But after reading this I personally feel a peace of mind and meaning of daily rituals and habits…. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.. Please post many article like this in our site…

[ “In Indian Culture why do we” – courtesy and copyright Central Chinamaya Mission Trust”]

A must read for all – irrespective of religion and region – Wg Cdr JP

1. Why do we light a lamp?

In almost every Indian home a lamp is lit daily before the altar of the Lord. In some houses it is lit at dawn, in some, twice a day – at dawn and dusk – and in a few it is maintained continuously (akhanda deepa). All auspicious functions commence with the lighting of the lamp, which is often maintained right through the occasion.
Light symbolizes knowledge, and darkness, ignorance. The Lord is the “Knowledge Principle” (chaitanya) who is the source, the enlivener and the illuminator of all knowledge. Hence light is worshiped as the Lord himself.
Knowledge removes ignorance just as light removes darkness. Also knowledge is a lasting inner wealth by which all outer achievement can be accomplished. Hence we light the lamp to bow down to knowledge as the greatest of all forms of wealth
Why not light a bulb or tube light? That too would remove darkness. But the traditionaloil lamp has a further spiritual significance. The oil or ghee in the lamp symbolizes our vaasanas or negative tendencies and the wick, the ego. When lit by spiritual knowledge, the vaasanas get slowly exhausted and the ego too finally perishes. The flame of a lamp always burns upwards. Similarly we should acquire such knowledge as to take us towards higher ideals.
Whilst lighting the lamp we thus pray:
Deepajyothi parabrahma
Deepa sarva tamopahaha
Deepena saadhyate saram
Sandhyaa deepo namostutea
I prostrate to the dawn/dusk lamp; whose light is the Knowledge Principle (the Supreme Lord), which removes the darkness of ignorance and by which all can be achieved in life. Continue reading

Dr. Alexei Kochetov on Badaga ‘Baashe’- language

Recently I lamented that ‘original and old’ Badaga language is undergoing drastic changes [for the worse?] due to the influences of other languages as well as our own negligence and ignorance.

In that respect, the following correspondence with Alexi Kochetov has me wondering – are some of these unique words like ‘bae’ and the way we pronounce them, remain the same atleast in the hattis [villages] and more importantly, how can we preserve the originality and uniqueness of our mother tongue?

Dr. Alexei Kochetov who  is an ‘Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Toronto, specializing in phonetics and phonology (studies of physical and cognitive aspects of speech)‘,  wrote to me recently ”

I came across your blog on the Badaga language – a great resource! I have a question: have you heard any Badagas pronounce the words ‘mouth’, ‘bangle’, and ‘crop’ differently, as Peter Ladefoged’s transcription suggests? (that is, be, bE half-retroflexed, bE fully-retroflexed). As I understand this may be an old-fashioned pronunciation no longer used. I am interested in this as a linguist, and would be curious to hear your opinion. Thanks.

“Thanks for your email. The word ‘be, bay’ etc to mean mouth, bangle,lentil, crop and plaintain[banana]’ is very much in use. I am not clear whether it is as per  Peter Ladefoged’s transcription as I am not a linguist. What I will do is, send you an audio/video recording soon”

Hello JP,

Thank you for your prompt reply! It’s good to hear the words are in use, and it’s nice of you to offer to send me an audio file.
I got really interested in Badaga and other Nilgiri languages on my recent trip to Ooty & Coonoor in December [2011], and since then have started reading up on the topic.
I asked the question about those words because Badaga has been described as having rather unusual vowels (“half- or full-retroflex”), first noted by M.B. Emeneau in his 1939 article, which you mention on your blog. Peter Ladefoged from UCLA, however, who made recordings of Badaga speech in 1990 and 1992, found that only a few Badaga speakers pronounced these vowels. They did it, for example, in the words for ‘bangle’ and ‘plantain’. Other speakers seemed to say these words exactly the same as the word ‘mouth’. I am attaching a sound file that would hopefully make this clear; it contains the words ‘mouth’, ‘bangle’ and ‘plantain’ pronounced by Mrs. Chellamma Mulley of Kotagiri, as they were originally described by Emeneau. The full recording is available here:  
So my question is whether this way of pronouncing the last 2 words sounds familiar to you. Perhaps you have heard this pronunciation from older people or people from other parts of Badaga community? Or can you tell those words apart when you ehar them?
Interestingly, Paul Hockings and Christiane Pilot-Raichoor mention in their Badaga dictionary that they found no evidence of these retroflex vowels in the speech of their consultants. The vowels may have disappeared, perhaps under the influence of Tamil, which would be sad.Looking forward to hearing from you.

A letter from Renuka Girish [Bangalore]

Dear Sir,
I found your site very interesting.  And I am very much interested in learning Badaga language and culture, please do send me the updates of the same. I came to know about Badagas only a few months back from one of my colleague who is from Kotagiri. And would love to see your Hethe Habba, once possible.
Renuka, [a fashion designer settled in Bangalore].
Hello Renuka, Thanks for your comments. There are no books, so far and to my knowledge, to learn Badaga. However, if you go through the many links I have given, including the one on Badaga Language, may be that would help. If you know Kannada, then it is much easier. Hethe Habba was just over. You are most welcome to come and see Hethe Habba which will fall in Dec 2012 or Jan 2013. With best wishes – Wg Cdr JP

Traditions….my foot!

Many Badagas prefer to speak in Tamil/English with other Badagas instead of their mother tongue Badagu/Badaga…see Badaga language.

Supposed to be a ‘traditional’ wedding…  which was conducted by a non Badaga pandit…. a ‘haven-fire place’ with the groom and bride chanting ‘mantras’  [more of lip ‘service’ as prompted by the pandit]…..

More weddings….  with the traditional ‘mandaray- turban’ being given a go by by the groom at the time of tying ‘taali’…[in traditional Badaga weddings the groom is always with a turban at the time of ‘taali kattodhu’ and that is why, a marriageable youngster is mocked/teased with the question “Eaguva mandaray kattiray? – when are to going to ‘wear’ a turban’?]….see Badaga weddings

A funeral..where instead of the mundu -vaisty/dhothi being the dress for the men who do the ‘akki eththodhu’, there are men in disgusting lungis….see Badaga funeral

Youngsters, both male and female, not being aware of how to seek blessings [going up to elders and asking ‘harachu’ with a ‘bent’ head] even at special occasions like weddings….see Badaga Blessings

Most of the Gowdas, let alone the commoners, in many villages, not being ‘clear’ or sure of ‘morai- correct relationship’  for marriages….see Badaga villages

God save those Badagas who are trying to adhere to traditions and save the community from ‘external’ influence!

A site for SENIORS is a must visit website for SENIOR CITIZENS. It contains plenty of information on ‘all’ aspects of life concerning the seniors – retired and aged.

As the website says : The aim of this site is to provide detailed info on all aspects concerning Senior Citizens of India, so that they may lead a healthy and happy life. Planning should begin early (maybe at 40!). Old Age brings some limitations, but being positive and following some simple guidelines can make life richer not just for Seniors, but also for their  family, friends & society.

A visit to the site is worth it. Also visit JVV

[Visit or badaga for better multimedia experience]

Badaga Origin

[Dear JP,You have given only some information regarding the origin , why not a full background of our origin. – Balasubramaniam ( ]

Many mistakenly claim that Badaga Origin is nothing but Badaga migration from Mysore  [now in Karnataka state] about 300 years ago, during Tipu’s time only because of  the name Badaga (meaning northerner). It is very debatable.
Unfortunately many Badagas have believed it in the absence of any convincing and conclusive evidence to the contrary. But the latest revelations and links about the language, especially from the epics and writings during the Tamil Sangam period tell a totally different story (see below).
I am firmly of the view that our history is much older- may be a thousand years or more older – and my initial ‘research’ confirms that.

There is a lot written about the migration from Mysore theory by many anthropologists, researchers  and others. For obvious reasons, most of them are/were ‘outsiders’ – like the early European missionaries and British. The one person who has done a lot to highlight about Badagas, in 1960s, Prof.Paul Hockings has chosen to go along with his predecessors in concluding that since Badaga means north[ner], they have migrated from southern  Mysore  during Tipu Sultan’s rule over Mysore to avoid being forcibly converted to Islam. Also sited in support of migration is the resemblance/similarity of Badaga (language) to Haleya [old] Kannada.

But, B.Balasubramaniam, a highly educated Badaga, [who has done extensive research before writing his book “ Paamé ” – The history and culture of the Badagas of the Nilgiris ] feels that Badagas migrated from Southern Karnataka [then Mysore State] about 700 years back, much before Tipu’s time, around 1311 AD during the plundering raid of Malik Kafir.

Though I am in agreement with Bala that Badaga migration, if at all, took place much earlier then Tipu’s time in late 1700s, I am firmly of the view that “It is possible that Badagas have lived in the Nilgiris for thousands(?) of years like the Thodas [Thodhamaru ] or Kothas [Kotharu]. Migration theory is an attempt by historians and anthropologists to explain away a ‘historical puzzle’. Based on the name ‘Badaga’ or on the so called ‘legends‘ that are open to many interpretations or on the basis of similarity of Badaga [language] with haliya-old Kannada, can we conclude that Badagas migrated from Southern Mysore?

When there is no definite evidence about the origin of Todhas or Kothas, how can we presume that they predated Badagas as natives of the Nilgiris?

I am sure the mystery of migration is far from over. If you look at the issue as of ‘definitive migration’ then you try to guess about the dates but what happens if we believe that Badagas have always been there in the Nilgiris much before or along with Todhas or Kothas? Uncomfortable questions that are very interesting and worth digging deeper into.

But given the diversity but the highly commendable unity and uniformity with minor changes in their customs, Badaga Migration, in all probability, has taken place even within the Nilgiris Hills reverently called ‘Naakku Betta’ by the Badagas.

What we DO NOT know about Badagas is more than what we know about them. Such is the mystery of Badaga Origin.[Read the complete article with what the Tamil epics mention about Badagas that may give a glimpse of  Badaga Origin here]

Balamagil Thirige Ebbadu (Wake up turning to your right Side)

Sofia Joghee from Singapore writes :

Our general practice to wake up turning right side has been instructed to us since our babyhood I should say. This is meant to be good. I am not sure if all of us know the real purpose and why this is good. So, I would like to share with you.

Body has 3 Major Nadis – Ida, Pingala and Sushumna

As long Ida and Pingala can be in balance, we can distress and be less egoistic when we encounter people at work or home. Also, if balanced, Sushumna will tend to raise our Kundalini energy. Well, effects of Raising kundalini are huge, beyond someone can imagine. So, let’s restrict our discussion to the technique to get this working.

Ida is cooling like the moon. It has to be active when the sun rises, to keep our body cool.

So, in the morning, before we wake up, lie down on our right side for 10 min and wake up with a small prayer to God for positive things to happen for that day. This will help activate our Ida Nadi, and hence we are ready to start our day.

Pingala is heat like the Sun. It has to be active when the sun sets, to keep our body warm.

So, in the evening, just after the sunsets, as the temperature comes down, we can lie on our left side for 10 min and wake up with a small prayer to heal our stress that we had gone through for that day and have a peaceful evening. This will help activate our pingala Nadi, and hence we are ready to keep ourself active even after a stressful day.

There are many other techniques to do this. But laying down on left side and right side will be the easiest for anyone to do.

So, we have been following our ancestors but  never were instructed of its inner meaning.