Monthly Archives: April 2014

Lessons from Nanjanadu Crisis – 3

There are many important lessons that Badagas should learn from Nanjanadu crisis due to which a great hatti has been divided vertically. These lessons will help us to avoid such situations in future.

The  Badaga society was a close knit tribal group with many far advanced social factors. To name, just a few, we can proudly claim that 1) the evil of dowry has not permeated very deep, 2) divorce and remarriage are permitted thus saving a lot of young girls from total ruin and 3) many festivals and funerals are a village affair, not individual, thus uniting the complete village.

In the ancient and early days, as the houses in any hatti are in a row, called THARA in Badaga, and there was no scope for expansion, the house was left to the youngest son so that he would take care of aging parents. The elder brothers, usually built their own houses. The married sisters were treated with love and respect and they could walk into their parents house at any time. While the property of the parents, specially father’s, excepting the house, was partitioned among only the brothers, it was an unwritten law that the brothers would not DESERT their sisters. The brothers would stand by their sisters through thick and thin.

But, like in many societies in India, the girls were not treated as equals among Badagas. Their education was restricted, mainly due to early marriages and they had to undertake the complete burden of running the house holds in those houses to which they were married to. With widely prevalent drinking, the men would fritter away whatever they earned on drinks. The daughter in law, SOSE in Badaga, was mostly treated differently and many times, degradingly.

Badaga leaders like ARI GOWDA, realised the double ‘damakka’ of drinking among men and exploitation of women. He was probably the first INDIAN in the British Raj, to successfully bring in prohibition in the Nilgiris much before independence and insisted on compulsory education of girl child.

In Badaga society, education among the girls, is slowly but surely, bringing a change.

The Indian Law Makers have made both education and equal rights in property  to girls into laws. EQUAL share in property to girls is LAW. We cannot bypass this LAW by claiming that Badaga traditions meant the opposite.

In Nanjanadu, there are many daughters of the majority group married to men from the minority faction. But, unfortunately, these daughters are not treated fairly and equally by the very same parents who gave them in marriage to the ‘other side’. Which, as of now, is against law.

The lesson we have to learn is – TREAT DAUGHTERS AND SONS AS EQUALS.

A well recognised KV Teacher and President’s medal winner RAJMA writes : –

Well said. Nanjanadu Crisis has taught us enough of lessons. The most important one is respect to womenfolk and their education. A woman is the epitome of tenderness, care and wisdom. She is the real architect of the society. She is strong, beautiful, compassionate , tolerant , amazing and much more than words could say. But who realizes this.? The responsibilities held and the sufferings faced by our Badaga women are endless. The younger generation should bring positive changes..! Let us hope…”TREAT DAUGHTERS AND SONS AS EQUALS ” Will it be a reality or a distant dream…?


Lessons from Nanjanadu Crisis – 2

The FIRST LESSON, we suggested, is to treat NATTARU with respect. This is true for all Badaga hattis. But, the sad fact is that Nattaru are treated as SECOND CLASS citizens in the mistaken impression that ‘tradition tells so’.

From our interaction with people belonging to Nanjanadu, this is one of the points that was brought out as the root cause.

It is nobody’s case that Nattaru should be FREELY PERMITTED to participate in all the rituals like AKKI Eththodhu etc against the unwritten rules that are in existence for hundreds if not thousands of years. I am sure the Nattaru in Nanjanadu understand that.

But, generally, there is no restriction that the village temple poojari has to be from a particular family excepting probably in the HETHE GUDI at Beraganni and Peddhuva.

Here, our simple request to both the parties is, please be big hearted and choose a person acceptable to both sides. God, being present in every heart, treats all as equals.

We are aware that the High Court ruling permits both the sides to perform pooja in Nanjanadu. We have to respect the LAW of the land and cannot hide behind pride and petti mindedness and non existant traditions. And at the same time, Minority B Party, please do not make this a prestige issue. EGO and URI are slow killers. Do not succumb to them.

Before we come to the ‘temple & poojari issue’, we must realise that nobody can take ‘law’ into his/her own hands and involve in killing and looting. No tradition permits that.

No set of people, call them nattaru or minority, can be driven out of the village using the brute majority mentality. Those driven away are our own blood and flesh. They have not come from a different planet. The majority party, in the interest of peace and everlasting love, should welcome those who have left the hatti out of fear. Their safety and security should be assured.

SO,PERMIT THE MINORITY PARTY TO RETURN TO THEIR HOMES IMMEDIATELY. And in the event of any death, the common community hall should be made available for the use of all and cannot be kept under lock and key.

So, Lesson #2, is learn to live with different opinions.

Lessons from Nanjanadu Crisis – 1

Nanjanadu is the biggest Badaga hatti [a village is known as hatti in Badaga language] with over a thousand houses.

Like any typical Badaga Village, the name Nanjanadu is due to the fact that a thorny plant ‘Nanju Mullu’ was found around this village [Dr.Haldorai] when it was established. By the way, no Badaga village has been named after any deity or person by our ancestors.

As  in any Badaga hatti, there are many ‘Nattaru’ settled in Nanjanadu. A natta is generally a person from a different hatti but married a girl from the hatti where he is settled before or after marriage . The reason for this could be based on many factors – for eg., there is no male member to take care of the elderly in laws or proximity to work place etc etc.

Over a period of time, the number of Nattaru in a hatti grows to be substantial which results in many marriages are arranged between the ‘hattikararu – original settlers’ and ‘nattaru’.

One of the hattis where this matrimonial inter-actions is quite large is KODHUMUDI. On expressing surprise that a Kodhumudian is  married to another Kodhumudian, we realise that there are in fact two distinct factions settled in Mel Kodhumudi and Kiya Kodhumudi, one being largely made of Nattarus and hence with perfect ‘Moray’ to marry.

In Nanjanadu, there are are two factions called A Party [Majority with more than 800 houses] and B Party [minority]. This naming of A and B party is probably is of recent nature after litigation. While it was, generally believed that the B Party people are Nattarus from Porthy and other places, the people belong to B party contest this and claim that they are the ORIGINAL settlers and their ancestors have laid the ‘BALLA Kambu’ – a wooden post – in fact a long trunk of a tree – that was planted by the early/initial settles around which the sacred first house ‘DHODDA MANE’ was built. Of course, this claim is fiercely contested by the A Party.

The planting of Balla Kambu [Kambu Nadodhu] in establishing a new village, existed among early Badaga settlers ‘thousand‘ of years ago.

Badagas are one of the ORIGINAL  tribal settlers/inhabitants of the Nilgiri hills. Unfortunately, there are still many researchers, including some Badagas, who keep harping on the ‘unfounded’ theory that Badagas have migrated from Mysore a few hundred years ago. The main reason for their mistaken theory based on empty enthusiasm is based on the simple assumption that Badaga means Northerner. These learned friends are yet to find and give any conclusive evidence of the origin of other tribes, let alone Badagas, like Thodas, Kothas or Kurumas with which the BADAGA TRIBE was intricately interlinked for time immemorial.

It is due to the sad reality that NATTARUs are not treated as equals in many Badaga Hattis. And,  that is the basic reason for bad blood being permitted to develop and destroy the basic trust and structure. The jealousy – URI in Badaga – grows many folds when Nattaru are economically better positioned. The hattikararu, sometimes, forget that the Nattaru are having a better life due to their shear hard work.

The so called Nattarus were not accepted as full ‘members’ and not  treated as equals, is a matter of fact in Nanjanadu.

Treat Nattaru with respect.

This, could be the first lesson the Badagas will have to learn when we try to solve the Nanjanadu crisis.

[Read more in future posts..]
I am very glad that the above posts have brought in comments from many young friends. These comments are reproduced below and my observations appended below :

1.Murugesh []

Is it Balla Kambu or Kalla Kambu?

Also I’m asking this question with curiosity. How to treat Natturus? Should we give them all the rights original inhabitants have?

2.Hariharan Emerald Bhojan []

Nanjanadu is a good case study for the Badugu Community in the long run. Its a case of how a hatty should be and how it should not be. As a well travelled man but with a strong insight into the Badugu Community, I have my opinions to share, which may or may not go well with the majority but the fundamental basis on which the Badugu Community is built.

Across all Badugu villages, Nattaru have always been accorded respect by the Original inhabitants (Hatti Kattidhavakka) as people who have left their land of birth for various reasons and found refuge in another village. No restrictions have been made on their way of life, accumulation of wealth, intra hatty relationships, so on and so forth. Having said that, certain ancient privileges have always been reserved for the Original Inhabitants as the true sons of the soil, even if they happen to be a minority. Conducting Poojas inside the oldest temple built by their forefathers is one of them. There are lot of other customs in traditional Badugu culture where the Hatty Kattidhavakka (Original Inhabitants) take precedence over the Nattaru (Settlers). Disturbing these tenets which are fundamentally an integral part of Badugu way of life means disturbing the entire social fabric of the Badugu Community. Hence, as learned socially conscious men, it is very important to carry forward this message to Nattaru in the overall well being of the Community. At the same time, the Hatty Kattidhavakka should refrain from violence of any sorts in future and should maintain cordial relations with the Nattaru for a serene, beautiful Nanjanadu.

3.Kumar Bellie []

You forgot to mention that, without nattaru there cannot be certain functions/ceremonies conducted as per sasthra. Nattaru is not a low caste.

To answer Murugesh, Balla Kambu is the correct one that is planted when a hatti was established. Kalla Kambu, as the name indicates, is planted later.

As the Dhoddaru Shlokas mention, ‘Natta elladha hatti holla, gasu elladha udhakka holla’ – Nattaru are an integral part of many ancient rites and rituals. These nattaru are respectfully addressed as ‘Mamma’ and ‘guru mane kaararu’ in some cases.

Coming to Emarald Hari’s comments, he has brought out the points that was forming my second part of the article.

There are certain rites, especially during funerals, the Nattaru do not participate in ‘Akki Eththodhu’ and ‘Korambu Kaipadhu’.

Now let us come to conducting ‘pooje’ in the village which is the crux of the problem at Nanjanadu.

In ancient days, Badagas were nature worshipers and the most sacred area of a hatti was/is the Suththu Kallu with a bikkamora. There were no temples in the name of many Hindu Gods in every village. Definitely not more than one temple as is the case now. There were a couple of Bana Gudis deep in the middle of forests to which annual pilgrimage was undertaken by a cluster of villages. The phenomena of temples and festivals based on the deity installed therein, are of recent origin of about 100/200 years. Recent because Badaga Origin is much more than thousands of years.

Even a hundred years ago, one of the original reformers of Badaga Society Hubbathalai Ari Gowder, identified that some of the problems in our hattis were due to temples and temple management. ‘Hattiga Ettu gudi Katti, kettaru Badagaru’. His man FRIDAY – Haikke Maathi would go around the villages to propagate this with his songs and lectures.

Now, every hatti is having atleast one gudi and the main festival of the hatti is based on the temple deity like ‘Rama Navami, Sivaraaththri, Krishna Jayathi etc’ is a hard reality.

In most, if not all hattis, the poojari is a ‘nominated’ person and selected on certain personal attributes [- pure vegetarian, non alcoholic]. Generally, a non-natta person. It is here that we see an avoidable spark that ignited the Nanjanadu crisis.

I strongly believe that when we go to a temple, our faith is in the deity/GOD of that temple. Think of Palani or Thirupathi. As Dr.Sundaradevan mentions, do we know who the poojari is in those temples?

The painful question that begs for an immediate answer is, a village that was peaceful for many centuries, becomes a hotbed of debates and disputes after a temple is constructed/renovated in late 1980s over who should conduct the daily poojas.

Did the ‘A and B parties’ let a minor point to blow out of proportions by insisting that one among them should be the Poojari?

Or, is the dispute much more fundamental in deciding who are the Hatti Kattidhavakka and who are the nattarus in Nanjanadu.

The Nanjanadu Peace Committee has its hands full.

VOTE even if it is NOTA

April 24th. Parliament Elections in Tamil Nadu.

People do not vote due to a couple of reasons. Mainly,

# They are apolitical and do not like any political party.
# They do not like anyone of the candidates in their constituency.

In the olden days, when we are far away from home, like in my case [as being in the Indian Air Force], we had no choice and the so called postal votes never reached us.

Now, in 2014, for the first time in the history of democratic India, the Election Commission has given us a choice, even when we have no choice. Confused?

That choice is called NOTA. None Of The Above. As it comes at the end, as a last button in the Electronic Voting Machine, after all the names of candidates, it means I DO NOT WANT TO VOTE FOR ANYONE OF THE ABOVE candidates.

But this NOTA sends a powerful message. Over a period of time, this can open the doors to making the political parties to choose the right candidate.

In 2014, in our mountain district, Nakkubetta, Nilgiris, I am going to opt for NOTA.

I would have voted for MODI [indirectly through a BJP candidate] but that party’s candidate just ‘vanished’- [when is the party going to order a proper enquiry in to this betrayal??]

So, my request to all, please move your bottoms and take the trouble of VOTING. VOTING IS A MUST. Even if it is NOTA.


Badaga / Nakkubetta in ‘Kalki’

From time to time, there is a systematic DISINFORMATION about Badagas, their history, customs, culture and rituals in some publications by self claimed ‘authorities’ on BADAGA – both the people and language.

I am informed that in the recent past, the Tamil weekly magazine KALKI, in a series named NAKKUBETTA by one Shyam, had published some highly derogatory information about Hethai [Goddess to Badagas and a mythical figure].

Also I understand, some well known Badaga Leaders like Rao Bahadur HJ Bellie Gowder, who was the contractor to lay the mountain railway line from Mettupalayam to Ooty during the British raj along with his son Rao Bahadur Ari Gowder have been shown in poor light. These two Nakkubetta leaders had brought a lot of reforms in Badaga Society.

We are in the process of accessing these articles to take further appropriate action and request our friends to inform us about exactly what has been published.

Smt.Indu.K.Mallah writes

‘Thank you for your prompt response. Please refer to Kalki issues dating from mid-January 2014 to 6th April 2014. The serial, “Nakku Betta” has some highly inaccurate, as well as derogatory comments about the Badaga community, culminating, in highly-ironical, and erroneous mis-information about the two greatest Nakku Betta leaders, Rao Bahadur H.J.Bellie Gowda, and Rao Bahadur H.B. Ari Gowda. Defamatory action needs to be taken against the author of this shoddy serial through Kalki’.

Chinese Connection and Nilgiris Tourism

Chinese Connection and Nilgiris Tourism

VenugopalBy Venugopal Dharmalingam

Nilgiri tourism can be taken to a new orbit if its global historical and heritage connections are imaginatively exploited through public-private collaboration. Very few hill areas can boast of so many foreign imprints as Nilgiris.
The first European to visit and write about Nilgiris was a Portuguese in 1604. The British opened the district to the outside world and laid the foundations of a modern Nilgiris since 1820. Soon after that the Scots brought horticulture, plantations and education. German, Danish, Swedish missionaries followed. The Swiss then paved the way for a mountain railway. Gold rush brought a horde of foreigners.

Venu3The prison name board

VenuThe high ceiling prisoner’s room with tiny skylight

Venu2The hangman’s room

After Independence, the Canadians built hydro electric projects. The French set up the first public sector unit. The West Germans upgraded agriculture. The Americans documented the whole history of the Nilgiris.
However, the Chinese connection still lies buried. There can be no better time to discover it than this year which has been declared as India-China Year of Friendly Exchanges.

The Chinese connection starts from around 1850s when a group of skilled Chinese prisoners following the second Opium War between the British and the Chinese landed up in the Nilgiris. They took part in the construction of the Lawrence School at Lovedale, planted tea for the first commercial tea estate which was aptly named Thiashola (Thia for tea in Chinese and shola for forest in the local language) and pioneered cinchona cultivation to fight the scourge of dreaded malaria.

Of the many Chinese relics, only the Cinchona factory and prison remain intact in the care of Tantea.

In 1864 W.G.McIvor, the superintendent of cinchona plantations and earlier the architect of Government Botanical Gardens asked the British government for 500 convicts to develop the cinchona plantations, having found the local tribal labourers too lethargic. The first convicts arrived in 1865 from the British Straits Settlements.

The Naduvattam jail consisted of two large rooms with brick walls and zinc sheet roof with only a small sky light for each of the nine prisoner’s quarters. Wooden planks served as beds and each prisoner was provided with ‘one rug and two cummlies’.

After serving their sentence and service, the Chinese prisoners are believed to have settled in and around Naduvattam engaged in gardening and dairying, some of them marrying local women.

The Chinese contribution deserves to be remembered and commemorated for its role in controlling malaria and initiating cultivation of tea which remains the backbone of the district’s economy.

The Naduvattam jail and factory remains almost intact along with the hangman’s room. The location is still breathtaking and convenient for access, being just on the roadside. Some efforts are on way to make it a tourist attraction. However, it has the potential to be made into a major tourist attraction together with a museum, a model mini tea factory, a cafeteria and heritage cottages by suitably modifying the existing vintage staff quarters beautifully dotted around the factory.

Shame on us, Nanjanadu

One of the unique customs/rituals/rites that can make Badagas proud is the way, the entire village joins together and conducts the funeral rites. Even if a death has taken place away from the village still, it is ensured that the body [ ‘saavu’ in Badaga] is brought to the native village and a dignified and graceful funeral is conducted by the ENTIRE VILLAGE.

There is even a proverb in Kodagu[Coorgis] – ” Badagana Saavu Chanda, Kodavana mangala Chanda ( Badaga funeral and Kodava marriage are great).

But, in the recent past, the so called majority party of Nanjanadu has the dubious distinction of preventing the minority party [who have been forced to flee their homes as there is no guarantee to their persons and properties] from conducting the funeral of two persons in their own village. One was cremated at Coimbatore and another in Chennai . The relatives had NO CHOICE. Not only that, we also hear that the big vessels/utensils that are used used for preparing ‘hittu- food’ have been looted from the minority common house.

Every Badaga should bend his head in SHAME. More so the villagers of Nanjanadu. Especially belonging to to the majority group who is preventing the minority party from returning to the village.

Every community hall/ grave yard/ cremation ground  belongs to the entire village. It is no body’s private property. It is against law to prevent social events for personal reasons.

Some of those living in Nanjanadu are under the impression that  ‘misguided youth’ can take care of the village and loot at will. Mistaken. If the Police are slow in taking preventing action, it is more due to the compulsions like elections etc. But when the long arms of law strikes, the blow is going to be severe. Remember that.

Remember also, when we say we want PEACE, we want TRUE and Permanent Peace. The peace every Badaga can be proud of.

Prayer to bring Peace at Nanjanadu

As per the resolution passed at the 2nd meeting held at Ooty on 12.04.2014, our members will visit Kadanadu HIRIODAIYYA  Temple seeking forgiveness – on behalf of all – for mistakes committed and unfortunate incidents at Nanjanadu [Thappu Harakke -தப்பு ஹரக்கே]

at around 9 a.m on 21.04.2014.

We humbly request you to join us in this prayer meeting and help us to bring permanent peace and normalcy in Nanjanadu.

Nanjanadu Peace committee

[see the note below for details]



Nanjanadu Peace Committee

After the sad incident at Nanjanadu – where lives were lost and property looted some sort of ‘peace’ is creeping back.

But, those who were ‘forced’ to flee their homes are yet to return to thier homes.

The good news is that most of the people [both men and women] from both the groups [called A Party – majority & B party – minority] are out on bail with the great efforts of Nanjanadu Peace committee formed by  NELIKOLU Trust  who are are initiators of this peace committee.

The second meeting of Nanjanadu Peace Committee was held at Ooty on 12-4-2014 with Dr.Sundradevan IAS, Mr.Dharuman, Mr.Sivakumar and Dr.Haldorai of Nelikolu Trust in the lead and about 15 odd members drawn from all the Seemays being in attendance.

The great and comforting news is that all those involved in this effort to bring peace NOT only in Nanjanadu but among all Badagas, are non political and have no vested interest or ego hasseles.

But, yes, this is a BIG BUT, unless all the people of Nanjanadu Hatti are not fully involved and come forward to bury the bad memories behind and cooperate wholeheartedly, there cannot be permanent peace.

On behalf of NPC, we make a humble appeal to all in Nanajandu – to forget, forgive and move forward.

Yours is the biggest hatti and we also know you have BIGGER hearts .

May the blessings of Hethe and Hiriodaiya  be with us.

Thank you, Nelikolu Trust for making us believe that we can do something for the community. We TRUST you!

Let us say NaMo and vote for Narendra Modi!

Every vote makes a difference.

Remember, voting is a sacred duty.

Seeing the deep rooted corruption all around, I am convinced that we need a strong PM to lead the country and cleanse the system.

Narendra MODI can give us the much needed focus in all fields.

Let us ensure that NM is our next PM !