Monthly Archives: August 2012

Traditions kept alive by these brave Badaga ladies

What is extremely gratifying and gives a lot of happiness is see some brave – hearts Badaga ladies wearing traditional Badaga Jewellery. One such lady is Subbi Hethe of Thogalatty [near Kattabettu] with the mookkuthi and kivi chinna [read all about Badaga Jewellery here]. I had the pleasure of meeting her at Honneri a couple of days back..

Thank you, Subbi Hethe


Bothered by FAKES ?

Click here or on the pix for a fantastic link from RBI to detect Fake Currency Notes


“Bravo, Rajamma of Kethorai”

More thoughts on “Bravo, Rajamma of Kethorai”

[see the original post – Bravo, Rajamma of Kethorai  here ]

D.SENDHIL VIGNESHWAR   said on 11/08/2012

Hello maam/maa… I am proud to be your student.. the days when I was put up in a school where no one ever knows my language all I found was Hindi Hindi and Hindi.. You came IN to save me and help me.. now I stand still with my head held high, in MUMBAI.. managing with the Hindi that you first taught me..Proud to be your student maam

and Rajamma, who has made all of us proud replies :

Dear JP,

Nice to read your reply and the comment posted by my student. Teaching is not my job , it is my passion. 32 years in the same line, handled thousands of students. As an inspiring teacher, filled with empathy towards the underprivileged and the so called back benchers, I had stolen their hearts. I hold my head high and make my students too. Senthil is a sample.

All these years, never I have called any student nalayak/stupid/ incapable/ idiot… and on adjectives used towards slow learners.Never will I call also. It is nothing but empathy…IN God’s creation every child is unique , original and has some talent or the other.
It is the duty of the teacher to identify it and groom the child. ” A child’s mind is not a vessel to be filled,It is a lamp to be ignited.” Each child is master piece and the Master’s piece. I respect them and love them irrespective of their background, caste, creed and capability.  Jai Ho. 
With regards,

Photo from the Hindu

Rajamma, your reply makes us “DOUBLY PROUD OF YOU. BRAVO” – Wg Cdr JP

Badaga and Tamil

Badaga and Tamil

by   Dr.R.K.Haldorai

‘Even people with considerable education are often wholly unable to answer certain quite simple questions about their language. For most people language is primarily a tool to be used, rather than a subject for close and critical attention’ (Gleason 1974:1).Actually in a society which has unlettered language like Badaga, the study of language plays a major role to understand its ethnology, tradition, ethos, culture, tribal character etc., Other than language the society has very little records to show its antiquity etc., In many places we have to deduce certain things through language only. So it is inevitable to study the Badaga language at least to some extent when we try to say something about Badaga society.

Badaga is one among the 26 languages of the Dravidian family. Badaga, a tribal language of the Dravidian family preserved more of its archaic features. Its prolonged isolation might be the cause for this. However to understand these features we have to compare them with the ancient forms found in any other Dravidian language. Among Dravidian languages Tamil, Kannada, Telugu and Malayalam are literary languages. They have recorded history. And also these languages were studied thoroughly by experts. Being that is the case; there is no doubt that we can have a clear picture of the Badaga terms when we compare them with the corresponding terms of the languages of the Dravidian family.

‘Tamil language being probably earliest cultivated of all the Dravidian idioms, the most copious and that which contains the largest portion and the richest variety of indubitably ancient forms, it is deservedly placed at the head of the list’ (Caldwell 1856:6).‘Tamil has usually been considered to be the Dravidian language which has preserved most traces of the original forms of speech from which all other Dravidian dialects are derived. It seems certain that no other Dravidian language has developed the common Dravidian principles with so great consistency as Tamil’ (Linguistic Survey of India, vol.iv. p.283).

‘Words of Dravidian origin occurring in all the languages are without any great difference of form. The original Dravidian speech seems to have split up in to these languages. Tamil is probably nearer to the original tongue than any other member of the group and it has preserved the older forms of the Dravidian roots knowledge of it is essential to the proper study of the South Indian languages’ (Brown, Telugu-English Dictionary,Int.).

Of course there are hundreds of common words in Badaga and Kannada. On the other part Kannada adopted Sanskrit words enormously. Whereas Sanskrit borrowing is less in Badaga and Tamil. Anyhow there are few borrowed items in Tamil too. In that case, we have to compare Badaga with indigenous things of Tamil and not with borrowed ones. I hope, then, we shall have a clear idea about Badaga when compare with Tamil. E.g. the word habba (festival) is found in Kannada and Badaga. But the prior form paruvam (season, the festival celebrated in a particular season) is found only in Tamil. In the same way the word maduve (marriage) is in Kannada and Badaga. But its older form vaduvai is attested in Tolkaappiam, the earliest available grammar of Tamil. Badaga ganige (finger-ring, signet-ring) is nothing but Tamil kanaiyaazhi. Badaga oppottu is nothing but Tamil orupozhudu. Badaga korali batta (small millet,setaria italica) is Tamil kuraal tinai.  Badaga baambullu (andropogon schananthus) is Tamil vizhalpul. Badaga sarangana (orderly,nicely) is nothing but Tamil siiraaga. Badaga ugilu (finger nail) is in literary Tamil ugir

              Badaga                                           Tamil 

  • korambu (a last rite)               karumaandiram ;
  • beggaayi (wind alone)            verum kaatru ;
  • sutrigaayi (whirl wind)           suzhal kaarru       
  • sere mee (drizzle rain)             saaralmazhai ;         
  • hola (field)                                  pulam ;
  • gudu,guttu (plough share)     kozhu ;                       
  • kirugaayi (eastern wind)       kiizhkaarru ;
  • karambe (curry leaf)               kariveeppu ;              
  • netturu   (blood)                      neyttoor ;                 
  • manaarna(heartful)               manamaara ;          
  • maggilu (side)                          marungil ;                
  • koolu (flute)                              kuzhal ;                     
  • orage (equal age)                    oor agavai                     
  • paame (story)                           pazhamai ;                
  • hemmakka (women)              penmakkal
  • heroodayya (Lord Siva)        peruvudaiyaar
  • haayola (fertile land)             pazhanam
  • neegilu (plough)                      naanjil
  • angay (palm)                            agangai (agam+kai)
  • pottuguude(small basket)      puttukkuudai
  • emmehatty(buffalo camp)     erumaippatti
  • koomekallu(sharp stone)        kuurmaikkal
  • taave (fern)                               taagai ;                     
  • batte (cloth)                              vattudai
  • monakaalu (knee)                    muzhangaal
  • darsepetti(granary box)           davasappetti

Like these many single and compound words are better known by comparing with Tamil. Other than word level, to our wonder, the glimpse of Badaga culture, tradition etc., are seen in Tamil literature. The thing is, we have to study it in depth to get the relevant points. For example, the good old marriage system of the Badagas was depicted in Sangam (aganaanuuru 86 and136) literature. Kannagi worship is similar to Badagas’ Hethe worship. The Tamil word peyaran or peeran (grand’son) indicates the usage of christening grandfather’s name to grandson. In the same way peyartti or peetti indicates the usage of naming grandmother’s name to granddaughter. To our astonishment, this practice is still vogue in Badaga. In Badaga society a new born male child gets first his grandfathers’ names(father’s father and mother’s father).In the same way a new born female child gets first her grandmothers’ names (father’s mother and mother’s mother).

In ancient Tamil society there was no caste system. The concept of karma was not there. It advocated neither vegetarianism nor sobriety (absent from toddy consumption). In the same way the society didn’t encourage renunciation. These are all relevant to Badaga society even today. The ancestor worship is common to both Badagas and ancient Tamils. More or less the religious activities are same for both Badagas and ancient Tamils. However the Badagas preserved and maintained the good old systems in every sphere of their life due their prolonged isolation. In this background, I hope the study of Tamil literature, grammar etc., will help us to describe Badaga thoroughly.

[Exclusive article]

Should we be really PROUD?

Here is an email from Vinoth Kumar that calls for our attention :

The points     raised by

Vinoth are very important.

“Are we living in a fools’ paradise? and not able to look beyond what we see?”

Wg.Cdr JP


Hello Sir,
This is regarding the word “PROUD” used by members in our BBM (Badagas of Blue Mountain). People have been using the word “proud” number of times, for ex, proud to be a badaga, proud to be from niligiri etc. Yes, no doubt we are all proud of ourselves being a badaga, but let us assess what have we done for making our community more proud. Obama acquired the presidency by using the word “change”, it was a big hit which elevated him to the highest profile in world. Now his tenure as president is gonna end and what has changed in US? nothing, coz he did not work towards what he meant. The word change is no more special now.


We have to climb up the hill to reach the peak. We have lot of issues in our community which need immediate attention. Rather we saying ourselves proud, let us work towards making us more proud. We have lot of well educated people with good practical knowledge which is vital than being theoretical. I request all of you to come forward and share your ideas about our community and regarding your sector which might help our community in one otherway.

We only speak about the good things in our community, lets discuss about the bad and make it good or at least better. I feel the below topics need to be given priority.

“Haasanoor oogi haala kudupudhuna, nilagiri neera kudiyaaku”, meaning nilagiri water is better than hassnoor milk which is known for its thickness and nutrient content. In Nilgiris, Every grain of soil is fertile and every blade of grass is green even in summer. Why are we running towards coimbatore and buying properties in exhorbitant prices? I accept we have to move to other cities because employment oppurtunities are less in our district. Its good we make our presence in other places by buying land, but not at the cost of selling what we have in our native. I know its not easy to maintain a tea estate as there is shortage of labor and moreover everyone wants to be a white collar worker than a blue collar. Apart from tea, the other crops like potato, garlic, carrot, radish, beetroot etc have become like lottery bussiness, it depends on luck than your hardwork. Partly, we can blame the El Nino and govt policies which is responsible for this debacle, at the end we are the losers. Lets forget the govt and do something on our own. We should stop following what our forefathers did five decades back. They had proper seasons, now there is no seasons, its summer 3/4th of the year and rest is winter. We have to change the crop pattern or even the crops. We should try semi arid crops or the arid crops like jatropha or croton. New roads have to be build to reach farms which are far. People who stay in cities please lease the land nearby village to the ones who do farming in villages rather than selling it to someone from outside for construction of villas. Either you can plant trees in farms which are far from villages which might help to please the rain gods and, in case, if govt allows logging in future you can make a kill out of it.

Requested people: Agri experts to study crop pattern and panchayat presidents to lay new roads.

Overall healthcare facilities have improved in our community and access to hospitals are better than earlier. Asthma was the only curse for our community in the past, but now its overtaken by other diseases, namely diabetes and cancer because of our sedentary lifestyle. It depends on individual, so I dont want to comment much on it. Organ donation, a topic raised by Mahalakshmi, thank you. Awareness has to be created in wide scale regarding this. This has to be done by all of us, should explain it properly to our family members and convince them.

Requested people: All of us.

This is a critical and sensitive issue which has to be dealt carefully. First let us assess what is the reason for increasing intercaste marriages and increasing pecentage of unmarried people in our community. We cannot blame education, job outside our place, or the empowerment of our girls, coz now its a necessity for well being. The main factor to be blamed is we not being a social animal within our community. A decade back, people use to attend festivals and family occasions without a miss where girls and boys from different families meet, proposals happen easily. Now a days festivals are fading, people rarely meet others from village. We can give a number of reasons, travelling, leaves, or exams… but its mainly due to lack of interest. Regarding intercaste marriage as i commented in another thread, i will support it because due to exposure its normal for a girl or boy to fall in love with a person from another community and we are matured and responsible to take a decision on our own. Another reason for me to support intercaste marriage, if a girl or boy marries from another community, he or she will not be allowed to come into village, and at last we being nuclear families, the whole family has to leave the village, its a minus for our community.

I thank Mahalakshmi for your comment on another thread, i respect your views, but on a longer run, this will not favor our community. Think like china in longer run than like india being a procrastinator.

Requested people: All of us.

Badagas WERE humble and down to earth, now its the opposite, people are becoming egoistic, as a result disputes are common. I know many who sell their property in native to buy a plot in coimbatore because his neighbor or a relative bought a plot in CBE. People in villages are into debt trap, kandhu vaddi (now a days saala is not at a concern), blame the climate pattern.

There are many more problems to be discussed, lets do it and find solutions for them, rather venting only the issues.

All of you might think I am a critic pointing only the negatives in our community, I dont bother, my only wish is our community as a whole should be a proud community without issues. As I said let us discuss the problems, the solution, a plan, and a strategy to achieve it.

Thank you,
Vinoth Kumar

Bagadas are amazing people on Earth


Dear JP,

I am a Christain from South Tamil Nadu. Of course, I visit your site frequently. Let me tell you something, which may be surprising to you.

I was born in a very orthodox Christian family. Now I am 33 years old. I was a very strong beliver of christianity. I never missed praying and reading Bible a day. I was so close to God. I thought I should die for Christ.

I thought Christians were the best people in the world until I met a Badaga 1.5 years back. I was simply moved by that person’s character, hospitality, discipline, Sincerity, affection, honesty, cleanliness, decency and boldness. I have many Hindu friends, but I was only impressed after meeting a Badaga. I suddenly thought thinking, Jesus has asked us to have the above characters and a Badaga has got all these characters, whereas I have not met a single Christian with all these characters. So what is the use of following Christianity?

From that day, I never read Bible, never pray to Jesus and never go to church. My whole community, including my wife and parents were surprised with my change. They never knew that a Badaga was behind that. And I promise you that I and my Badaga friend never spoke about christianity.

The change came to me from my inner soul. No one changed me.

Now I feel daily that I should have born in that community. I felt that it is a curse for not being born in Badaga community. My ambition is to become rich and serve the badaga community. I want to join the community and be one among them.

But the messages in your website creates ‘a bit of a bad feeling’ among Badagas on Christians. What will people like me do?

I want to learn Badaga language. I need a book. I heard that 2 people in Coonoor has written in Tamil. I searched entire coonnor. But in vain. Can you please help me on this regard. Thanks – AR

I was quite amazed to receive this email from AR

[I sincerely thank him for permitting to put this on our websites].

Two things strike me to be extraordinary. AR’s frankness and his ‘unabashed appreciation of Badagas’.

AR, hope  all Badagas will possess “character, hospitality, discipline, sincerity, affection, honesty, cleanliness, decency and boldness”  and live like the person you have described and bring changes in others.

‘This particular individual’  makes  us all very proud.

And here are a couple of clarifications. I wonder why you feel that I do not like Christians and that my views create ‘a bit of bad feelings’.I am a proud Hindu but have great respect to all other religions. Some of my best and closest friends are Christians.

The only thing I am against is the forcible conversion of many Badagas to Christians which is threatening the very fabric of the Badaga Society [supposed to be endowed with all the great qualities you attribute to them].

There are a couple of books to ‘learn Badaga’ by Dr.Haldorai and here are some of his 

Books Published on Badaga  : 

1. badagu oru diravida moli* (Badaga a Dravidian Language) (Tamil)
2. badagu molip palamoligal (Badaga Proverbs)  (Tamil and English meanings)
3. Badaga –English  Self  Instructor (English)
4. A Practical Key to the Badaga Language (English)

for the complete list of books go here

Thanking AR once again and hope we Badagas also live up to possess  such great qualities. – Wg Cdr JP

Hi JP,

Saw the Posts. Christians read Bible and Pray to have these characters. But without even knowing of Jesus, your people have these characters. Really I miss you all. One day you will definetely find me serving the Badaga community.

After learning Badaga language, I will mail to you in Badaga language. That will be my next mail to you. But it will take some time. May be even 6 months. Bye till then.

Thanks – AR



Independence day.
Freedom from occupation of the land
by aliens.Celebrations.
But what about freedom
from exploitation of gender and hunger
from fights over caste and religion
from inequality based on creed 
and region


India, the great land of legends
when are you going to be really FREE?

Badagas who make us proud

This article is reproduced as I consider Ms.Rajamma as a role model and inspiration to generations. Many comments on this post are a proof of the esteem her students hold her in.

She is another Badaga woman who has made us all very proud.

D.SENDHIL VIGNESHWAR sent these comments Bravo, Rajamma of Kethorai on 11 Aug 2012

hello maam/maa… i am proud to be your student.. the days when i was put up in a school where no one ever knows my language all i found was hindi hindi and hindi.. u came IN to save me and help me.. now i stand still with my head held high, in MUMBAI.. managing with the hindi that u first taught me..Proud to be ur student maam.

Kethorai Rajamma, who made all  those who had known her , especially the Badagas, very proud by winning an award from the President of India, recently has written to say,

Dear Mr.JP…,
My earnest greetings..Your efforts for the beautiful bagadas of the the most beautiful Nilgiriis make me elated beyond Doddabetta’s height…May the sway of tall dignified trees, the tinkling water falls, the smiling colourful flowers and the hugging chill breeze shower wonderful and abundant blessings to you by laying a green carpet welcome by the tea plantations. God bless you..
With regards,
Kethorai Rajma

Thank you ever so much for these kind words. If I could achieve a small percentage of what you have achieved [that has been recognised by all], then I am truly blessed. With the warmest of regards, JP

Rajamma of Kethorai village has made us proud once again. She won an award from the President of India.

Santhosh Kumar JB has sent the info and the link in ‘The Hindu’ and we have great pleasure in sharing the same with all Badagas.

It was not before the age of 15 that she was first taught the English alphabet. Now, 35 years later, she is a successful teacher in the same subject and is getting ready to leave for New Delhi to receive the Dr. Radhakrishnan Best Teacher Award from President Pratibha Devisingh Patil.

The fact that R.Rajammal is the first generation learner from her family may not be uncommon. But that she belongs to the Badagar community from remote Kethorai Village of Kethi Village Panchayat in Nilgiris District and has come thus far is an inspiring story. People travelling on the famous Nilgiri Mountain Railway might have noticed the Kethi railway station Coonoor and Udhagamandalam. Her native village Kethorai is a good five-kilometre trek from there.

Ms. Rajammal teaches English and Science to primary students at Kendriya Vidyalaya (II) at Madambakkam near Tambaram. Recognising her rise from modest backgrounds, her contribution to teaching and the Guides movement, the Ministry of Human Resource Development selected her for the prestigious award.

“I am the eldest among five children. I still remember the hardwork of my parents who toiled through the day in tea plantations and small farms raising vegetables,” Ms. Rajammal recalled her childhood days at Kethorai. Five decades back, education in remote hilly areas was scarce but Rajammal made the best of it, excelling in academics till high school.

Being a first generation learner did come in the way but having imbibed the quality of sheer hard work from her parents M.Ramachandran and R.Saraswathi, she never gave up. “We used to walk eight kilometers to high school and back home. It was not before class nine that we were first taught the English alphabet,” Ms. Rajammal said.

As those were the days of college education immediately after S.S.L.C., they had very little time to master English and when she joined Providence College, Coonoor, she found it even more difficult in the initial days. However, with the help of her teachers and classmates, she finished her B.Sc in Botany in high grades and came to Chennai, where she managed to get the job as a teacher at St. Michael’s Academy in Adyar.

Deputation to Moscow

Seven years later, she joined the Kendriya Vidyalaya. After a nation-wide test, she was selected to go on a three-year deputation to Moscow where she served the KV school there. A compere for programmes at INS Rajali in Arakkonam and also during passing out parades of Central Industrial Security Force establishments, Ms. Rajammal has earned popularity for her motivational speeches and also for her work among the underprivileged sections involving school students.

Her association with welfare homes for the senior citizens, destitute women and children had its origins in her childhood. “I visit my native village at least six times a year and spend a long time during the summer vacation. I insist on the importance of education and encourage young girls never to give up till they succeed in life,” Ms. Rajammal said.

Actively involved in the Girl Guides movement, Ms. Rajammal has received the NCERT Award in 2003 for Innovative Teaching Practices in Environmental Studies and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghatan Incentive Award in 2008.

She wants to be a role model for rural women, especially among her Badagar community. Ever indebted to the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sanghatan for the exposure that she has received, she said that she would be only too glad to serve KVS even after her retirement.

She lives in Madambakkam and can be reached at 2229 2403 and 98413 57720. E-mail:

K. Manikandan

What are friends for…..

Friendship between women:

A woman doesn’t come home one night.
The next day she tells her husband that she had slept over at a girlfriend’s house.
The husband calls his wife’s 10 best friends. None of them know anything about it.

Friendship between men:

A man doesn’t come home one night.
The next day he tells his wife that he had slept over at a friend’s house.
The wife calls her husband’s 10 best men friends. Eight of them confirm that he had slept over, and two claim that he was still there.

Badaga Connection :

Friendship is ‘NATTU’ in Badaga. When we say ‘huttu, nattu’ we talk about relatives ans friends.


Dictionary is the only Place where
The word Death comes before Life

End comes before Start 
Child comes before Parents 

Divorce comes before Marriage 
Evening comes before Morning 

Result comes before Test 
Destination comes before Struggle 

Dinner comes before Lunch 
Doctor comes before Fever

However, the THING I consider right in Dictionary is that  
Friends comes before Relative.

[recd as a fwd email]