Monthly Archives: February 2014

Happy birthday, Rukmani Bhojraj!

There are some Badaga women and men who have sacrificed a lot with the single minded devotion to keep up the family name and traditions. In the bargain, they had to undergo a lot of suffering which they endure in silence. This is especially true with many Badaga women of the earlier generations who were married of at the very young age in a male dominated society.

Everyone of their life history, the pains and pleasures, can make a fascinating story.

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One such person is Mrs.Rukmani Bhojraj. Daughter of Kundah Kettichigatti  B.K.Bella Gowder, she was married to Rao Bahadur Ari Gowder’s only son H.A.Bhojraj at a rather young age of 15 years.

In the initial years of her marriage, apart from taking care of three small children, Rukmani Bhojraj had to supervise everything very meticulously since both (her father in law) Ari Gowder and (husband) Bhojraj were particular about the details on how the guests were treated.

She had to run the household affairs at Ari Gowder bungalow called Panorama, at Coonoor,  mostly by herself as there were constant stream of visitors and guests who came to meet Ari Gowder who was a M.L.A and contractor of Railways.

A lot of government  officers from Madras [now Chennai] and district officials like the Nilgiris Collector, came often to discuss and dispose of matters of importance. large number of Badagas also came to seek solace and sort out their problems with the Nakku Betta leader.

In the typical Badaga hospitality, all visitors and guests were treated with snacks and food – hasuga and hittu. The kitchen fire at Ari Gowda’s bungalow was always on. ‘Ari Gowdana hittu maneya kitchu endu kathira’.

Rukmani Bhojraj is very warm hearted and makes friends easily with strangers. She is very popular with neighbours of all ages.

Today, 19th Feb 2014, is her 80th birthday and we wish her long life and good health!

Great Great Great.
Wish her Long Life. Hethe, Ninna Gava maravadhuga mudia. Hethappa slog amake, arathu bandhamaga Annava kodu, Berathu bandhamaga Bekkia kodu. You kept the elders slogam alive. Thanks Hethe Amma.

Nanjanadu – let it be ‘Nenjuna Nanju Elladha Naadu”

Update by Dharmalingam Venugopal [22 Feb 2014]

Nanjanad needs relief, reconciliation and rehabilitation

A visit to the strife-torn Nanjanadu shows that with a little sensitivity on the part of all concerned, the senseless death of two innocent lives, the huge damage to properties and the blot on the peace-loving community could have been avoided.
The administration deserves all praise for posting a massive and understanding contingent of law enforcers to bring the situation under control.
With the spontaneous gesture of hundreds of community people descending on the village every day to condole and console the villagers the Badaga brotherhood is also aiding healing process.
However, a closer look shows that the deceptive calm could again be shattered if relief, reconciliation and rehabilitation efforts are not set in motion forthwith.
The victims’ families, one with a baby of five months and another with a college going youth, deserve the compassionate solatium of the Hon’ble Chief Minister through the recommendation of the district administration.
Enquires show the preference for a committee, comprising a representative of the Sri Ramakrisha Mutt, a high ranking retired government official and a retired police officer both settled in the district, to initiate the process of reconciliation.
The district administration would do well to support a Badaga Week during the coming Summer Festival to bring together and showcase the talents of the Badagas in music, dance, painting, photography, writing and other fine arts. Such an event in Anna stadium will give an opportunity to the Badagas to bond together while giving a grand treat to the tourists. A part of the proceeds can be set aside for rehabilitation in Nanjanad.

Dharmalingam Venugopal
[Hon. Director,Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri] writes on


Badagas need  Alternative Dispute Settlement system

According to Social scientists, group conflict is a pervasive feature common to all levels of social organization. Group conflicts are either inter-group between two groups or intra-group  between individuals within a group.

Although both forms of conflict have the ability to spiral upward in severity, group level conflicts are generally considered to be more powerful as “groups are generally even more competitive and aggressive than individuals”. However, there is evidence that a large proportion of group conflicts are indeed personal conflicts.

The two main sources of intergroup conflict have been identified as competition for material rewards or for social rewards like respect and esteem.

According to the noted Badaga scholar, Paul Hockings, there is no published evidence of any kind of factional division or katchi as it is locally called, among the Badagas until the late 1850s. Since then  two types of factions have continued to plague almost all the Badaga villages. One based on personal factions stemming from strong difference of opinion about someone’s personal grievance. The second and more common type was each village taking one side or the other in some dispute of general concern to everybody. However, Prof Hockings concludes that the Badaga society has managed to reduce its tensions over the years by its big leap towards modernization.

Observers will recall that during the decade of the tea boom in the 1990s there was absolutely no incident of faction fights in the Badaga villages. Therefore, long term mitigation for Badaga factional fights lies in more modernization and development in the villages.

Sociologists say that within small groups, both constructive and destructive conflict occurs and it is important to accentuate the constructive conflict and minimize the destructive conflict.

In recent times Badaga have grown to be litigious and seek the law courts for every personal and social issue. The delay in disposal of cases or the deliberate attempt in dragging the cases or the manipulation of verdict often lead to build up of tension which at times end in avoidable tragedy.

What the Badaga society need most now is a mechanism for Alternative Dispute Settlement which is faster, cheaper and mutually more satisfactory.

There are a number of highly credible retired judges and administrators available in the state and the district for arbitration.

Let some Badaga social organization like the Nelikolu Trust take the initiative to set up an ADS for the Badagas.


Wg Cdr JP :- Just heard the sad news that two persons have died in the clashes between two groups of BADAGAS at Nanjanadu Village over conducting Puja at the temple. Real shame !!

Enemies of Badagas are Badagas themselves.

Oh, God, they can kill in the name of GOD. Can there be anything more painful ?

Are we still proud to be Badagas??

I wrote earlier :-

An appeal to the people of Nanjanadu Hatti [24-10-2013]

Nanjanadu hatti, probably, is the biggest hatti of Badagas. More than a thousand houses.


I visited this hatti a couple of days back to attend the funeral of a close relative. What shocked me is the fact that there are two factions in this hatti and one faction does not attend the functions of another.

It appears that the deep division among families, the fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters took place due to a dispute  about the SHIVA temple which is located at the very entrance of the village.

We have always believed that FAITH in the ALMIGHTY unites the people. How can GOD be the reason for division?

How can the people of this great hatti let such a thing happen and seek justice in the higher courts of Justice when, with a simple act of give and take, the issue can be resolved within minutes?

Is it not high time that the educated youngsters of Nanjanadu take the initiative to bring back harmony to this beautiful place?

A few days back, I had published a new post “… finding the 18th camel (see below)” in which I had highlighted the need to find a ‘common ground’. Can we NOT find the common ground right in front of the SHIVA Temple which remains locked?

You, the people of Nanjadu Hatti, will you listen to this appeal to unite?

Will you invite the people of Nakkubetta to a grand function of unification very soon??

Badaga Proverbs – Doddaru SHLOKA

Badaga Proverbs – Doddaru SHLOKA

One of the fascinating and interesting aspects of Badaga [both people & language] is the free use of delightful but deep meaning proverbs called “ DODDARU SHLOKA”. When you engage an elderly Badaga into any conversation, you are sure to hear a lot of these proverbs thrown in to make / emphasis a point.

Prof. Paul Hockings, probably the most authentic researcher on and of Badaga lists more than a thousand Badaga proverbs, 1730 to be precise. May be he had extensively borrowed these from the unpublished manuscript of M.K.Bellie Gowder. He feels that 1730 could be a complete figure containing all the proverbs . See his book,’Counsel from the Ancients: Study of Badaga Proverbs, Prayers, Omens and Curses’. He has given the meaning in English as well thus making it easy to understand in a beautiful manner.

Though I find his collection extremely interesting and educative, I do not agree with some of the conclusions he draws on certain proverbs. For example, on the proverb, ‘Odhidhama Niddhana, Oddidhama Erandina’ .

Prof.Hockings interpretation is quite different to what I feel is the correct meaning. I think ‘a person who spends time learning and pondering (over a problem) is better than the one who runs away (in a hurry) and thus trips over. [Odhidhama – learned one , Niddhana – stops to ponder over[think] a problem, Oddidhama – one who runs away or is in a hurry, Erandina – trips over.

It is common practice for Badaga mothers to tell their young children ‘Oda beda , Erandiray’ – Donot run, you will trip over (a stone or any obstruction). That is ‘ do not be in a hurry and take a hasty decision’.

Another one is ‘Michidhavaga Morande Kolu Bangara’. The lady who does not listen to her husband /any one (Michidha Hemmathi) is bound to land up as a widow (when ‘Morande Kolu – a small stick of morende tree – replaces her jewellery [bangara] – nose ring and ear rings during the Ole Kattuva ritual of husband’s death / funeral ceremony). Prof.Hockings feels Mechidhavaga (see the difference between michidhava – one who does not listen- and mechidhava – one who is appreciated by all – even a morende kolu is enough as jewellery.

Actual proverb could have been, ‘Michi dhavaga Moranday kolu Bangara, Mechi dhavaga Morenday Kolu Singara’

Is it a case of beautiful wordplay (pun) by our ancestors??

I have listed a few of the proverbs here, or….….read more here

Rare Photos

'''Topographic map of Nilgiri Hills showing so...

Image via Wikipedia

On the unique BADAGA community of the Nilgiris in Southern India…their origin, language, culture and customs !!

Website of Wing commander Bellie Jayaprakash that is regularly updated and more info added

The following photos are from Thurston’s Book “Castes and Tribes of South India” published in 1909 by Government of India Press, Madras

Badaga Temple

Badaga Temple – This must be one of the oldest Badaga temples as the photo was published in 1909. The deity of this temple? Also, notice the elephant, horse and the snake on the outer wall. Any guess as to where this temple is located??



Badaga girls in 1909 or earlier

Badaga girls in 1909 or earlier. At first glance it appears as those these girls are wearing ‘pattu – head gear’.Take a closer look, their heads have been partially shaved. Did this signify any particular custom or period in the lives of these very young girls. No info available in Thurston’s book

Fire Making by Badagas -1909

See more here