Monthly Archives: May 2012

Badagas in Majestic Madurai

Raghu Joghee (Photo Journalist with Dinamalar) published this in Facebook – Badagas Group.

My (Wg Cdr JP) take on this :

Great to see the photos with all the participants [excepting, sadly, the hormonium player] in traditional badaga dress. The ladies look very gracious with chinnadha geray (border) mundu – thundu [without thankfully a red ribbon on the pattu and as ‘satta’].
Why are we still blindly accepting [and feeding the journos] that we have migrated from Mysore during Vijayanagara Empire? At best, this ‘twisted’ tale of history is the perception of few historians including a neo lot of Badaga authors. What we know about Badaga Origin is very limited. I claim without hesitation that we are one of the original inhabitants of the Nilgiris.
I can ‘see’ some self styled ‘Badaga’ champions questioning me – ‘what proof do you have?’.

See my detailed disclosure in


Welcome to the wonderful world of Badagas

Hello JP….I am Magesh Hirian from Kettti Acchanakkal (live in the USA now)…….I am a very proud Badaga and and a great admirer of our heritage and culture….. I am completely blown away with this website. Please keep up the good work. This is awesome!! love it.. na endhu enna Hethai Ammana mathi..

Hello Magesh Hiria, Thanks a lot. If my interest and passion in maintaining the websites on Badaga have not diminished even a tiny bit, it is only due to the encouraging words from friends like you. Even after more than 208,000 visits/hits, it is highly heartening to see and welcome NEW visitors.

As I have mentioned a lot of times in these websites, we are lucky to have been born as Badagas in this great Bharat nation. There are so many fantastic social customs/systems like community living [hatti based], no dowry, divorce without any discrimination, widow remarriage, all villagers taking responsibility for the cost and conducting rites of death/funeral that may occur in any part of the ‘world’ -when the body is brought back to the village, etc etc. The legendary Badaga hospitality has been accepted by no less than the world body UNO.

But as said earlier, what we know about Badaga – both language and people, is less than what we do not know about them. Let us put our heads together to bring out the great history of Badaga in all its glory and be an example of what a community should be, even with our short comings.

Hethai, ellagu, olagodha elli iddhalayu Naalu,kodali – Wg Cdr JP

Why am I a Hindu……!?

I was flying from JFK New York Airport to SFO San Francisco Airport CA to attend a meeting at Monterey , CA .

An American girl was sitting on the right side, near window seat. It indeed was a long journey – it would take nearly seven hours.

I was surprised to see the young girl reading a Bible unusual of young Americans. After some time she smiled and we had few acquaintances talk.I told her that I am from India

Then suddenly the girl asked: ‘What’s your faith?’ ‘What?’ I didn’t understand the question.

‘I mean, what’s your religion? Are you a Christian? Or a Muslim?’

‘No!’ I replied, ‘I am neither Christian nor Muslim’.

Apparently she appeared shocked to listen to that. ‘Then who are you?’ ‘I am a Hindu’, I said.

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Oh man….

Dalai Lama on M A N

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Badaga Inspiration

I love watching the Badaga dance in Coimabatore. Two years back when Amma last was here, and again during Amma’s 53rd birthday celebrations in Amritapuri, they
also enchanted the crowd – inspiring westerners, students, and Ashramites to join in . The same happened again this year. Young and old, men and women. Their rhythmic movements, graceful flowing hands and bodies, the beating of drums and call and response voices calls to the dancer inside us. It’s so primal, so natural, and so beautiful.

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The story of Ari Gowda

The story of Ariya Gowda 

by Sriram V [The HinduChennai, May 1, 2012]

Ari Gowder was President of the Backward Classes League and leaned towards the Justice Party

The chances of anyone travelling down Ariya Gowda Road in West Mambalam, and stopping to wonder about the identity of the man who gave the thoroughfare its name, are slim. For when you are on Ariya Gowda Road, you are focused on getting out of the road alive, given its traffic.

He was not Ariya Gowda. He was HB Ari Gowder, a great visionary and leader of the Badaga community of the Nilgiris. And his life, as gleaned from various sources, including a 1935 Who’s Who and the internet, makes for interesting reading.

Rao Bahadur Hubbathalai J Bellie Gowder, made his fortune in laying the tracks of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, which was completed in 1908. His wealth made him a leading member of his community, and his clansmen came to him for advice on several issues. Bellie Gowder founded a free school in his native village, Hubbathalai, an institution that still functions. He passed away in 1935.

Bellie Gowder’s son, Ari, was born in 1893. His father ensured that he was educated in the modern sense and he graduated from Madras Christian College. Though he was to consider himself a contractor and a planter, it was in politics and social uplift that Ari Gowder was to make a mark. In 1923, he became the first Badaga to be elected to the Madras Legislative Council of which he was a member until 1934. In the 1940s, he was elected to the Madras Legislative Assembly. When the Rajaji government introduced Prohibition in 1937, he led the challenge of enforcing it in the Nilgiris, of which area he was also the first non-official to become District Board President. Ari Gowder was also active in the Scouts Movement. Another contribution of his was the establishment of the Nilgiris Cooperative Marketing Society, which eliminated the stranglehold middlemen had over the simple mountain people. He was also a Director of the Badaga Land Mortgage Bank.

While the sympathies of most of his community lay with the Congress, Ari Gowder, given that he was President of the Backward Classes League, leaned more towards the Justice Party, which was active till the 1930s. That probably explains the road in Mambalam being named after him. Neighbouring Theyagaroya Nagar or T Nagar, developed in the 1920s when the Justice Party was in power and most of the roads, parks and streets there are named after its leaders. Legend also has it that a large chunk of land adjoining the Mambalam Railway Station was his, which he donated for developmental work. Like his father, Ari Gowder too received the title of Rao Bahadur from the British Government, in 1943.

In 1946, Ari Gowder was defeated in the Assembly elections. But in 1952 he contested successfully as an independent. He was to remain an independent for the rest of his career. He passed away in 1971.

How did Ari Gowder Road morph into Ariya Gowda Road? And should it not be just Ari Road?

The Hindu : Cities / Chennai : The story of Ariya Gowda.