Monthly Archives: July 2014




by Indu.K.Mallah
What myth informs you
That your god is greater than ours?
Which fairy tale tells you
That your god is the only one?
Which god gave you the right to brain-wash our vulnerable, guileless people
With a brush dipped in guilt?
And who gave you the right to maul our culture?
You justify your self and say
That religion is different from culture,
But one is the warp, and the other, the weft of the fabric of our credo,
Which has the texture of the trees,
The flow of the mountain – stream
The scent of the earth,
The melody of bird-song,
And is in tune with the music of the cosmos.It is the age-old story of exploitation,
And it will take ages for us to recover from the wounds
You have inflicted on our souls
In the name of saving them.
But you have reckoned without
Our God of Satyam
We will wait——
Tomorrow is time enough for your expiation .

[In the ‘Song Of The Hill People‘, Smt.Indu K Mallah has beautifully brought out the mindless and meaningless (religious) conversion of hill people especially, Badagas. What used to be an unforgivable act a couple of decades ago, has become a routine affair now. 

I am yet to meet a ‘converted’ Badaga who could give me atleast one convincing reason for the change. I know of many Badagas who say ‘I am a proud HINDU and have no problems in praying/ keeping pictures of other religious deities also in my puja room’. Hats off to these who are true Badagas!!

 Badagas have been a very closely knit community. Let not “religion” divide them – Wg Cdr JP]
Smt.Indu.K.Mallah writes : Thank you for re-printing my poem.  My collection of poems, which is under consideration for publication, has a separate  section on Indigenous Idioms –

Thank you very much

It was indeed a very pleasant surprise that on 24th, July 2014, this website had 552 hits. On a single day.

Best ever in the existence of – ‘Badagas of the Blue Mountains’


I am deeply humbled and thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Proud to be an Indian : Proud to be a Badaga.

Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash []


Badaga and vedic character ‘Chandrabindu’ !

A language takes thousands of years to develop and to to be in ‘circulation’ it needs to be actively spoken. But to survive, it needs a script that can be easily and effectively used. Badaga language (படக பாஷை), spoken by a few lakhs of people called Badagas belonging to the Nilgiris in South India, is an unique language that can stand on its own merit and has stood the test of time.

Sadly, there is ‘deep corruption’ of this beautiful ‘bashe’ by the unmindful and unscientific mixing of Tamil and English by Badagas themselves who think that conversing in Tamil or English is more fashionable.

Attempts have been made by a few to develop a Badaga Script, notably by Anandhan Raju, Kadasolai Yogesh Raj and Karimora Saravana Raju [tough not related, the name Raju is coincidental]. Anandhan Raju, first published his ‘fully developed‘ script in this website and it can be easily accessed and downloded. See Badaga Script page

Though Tamil and English scripts has been used to ‘reflect’ full sentences/stories/ballads etc of Badaga, a couple of hundred years back, it comes as a surprise to learn that in the late 1800s, Kannada script was been used by German Missionaries, who were desperate to convert the natives to Christianity. They published a few chapters of Bible in Badaga

Vinodh Rajan, who is a PhD student in Computer Science at the University of St Andrews, Scotland writes to say, “I am more interesting in writing systems of minority languages and I came across Badaga. I was researching the net and I found that Badaga used a modified Tamil with “:” sign to denote b,d,g etc  which are absent in Tamil as in ப:ட:க:. I then stumbled upon documents where Badaga was written in Kannada script”. I find the use of ‘CHANDRA BINDU’, a (Sanskrit) Vedic character.

 C BinduProposal to encode Kannada Sign Spacing Candrabindu

pic_1Vinodh Rajan []


The Badaga language is a minority language in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. It is spoken by approximately 400 000 people around the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu. It is closely related to the Kannada language. However, Badaga does not have any script of its own. At present, it is commonly written using the Tamil script. Recently, there have been attempts to create a separate Badaga script [1].

In the late 19th century, the Christian missionaries attempted to use the Kannada script to write Badaga (perhaps due the language’s similarity to Kannada). Several New Testament gospel books were translated into Badaga and published using the Kannada script [2] [3].

Badaga Orthography in Kannada Script

Badaga when written with Kannada orthography seems to use only un-aspirated consonants. It also uses subjoined Kannada LLLA, which probably represents the retroflex vowels unique to the Badaga language.

But the most interesting is the use of a spacing Candrabindu character, which probably represents nasalization.

L in BadagaL in Badaga2

(Sample Text from the Gospel of Luke in Badaga Language)


māḍu, yēkāṁdale yeṁgū yeṁga tappugāraruga buṭṭaneyō ; innu eṁgḻuva
sōdanega sētade kēḍoṁda tappisu, eṁdu hḻēgivi enna .

[Read his full article]

Continue reading

Badaga Dress

Here is an interesting article about how the vesti -dhoti- mundu has been the traditional dress of Badagas. Obviously, the recent incident of a High Court Judge not being allowed entry to the Cricket Club at Chennai because he was wearing a Vesti/Dhoti, has triggered the author to write this article.

24408 007Badagas with family (1914)

Mitchi Hethay

Mitchi Hethay

150507-011.jpgIncidentally, in the olden days, the ONLY dress for Badagas, both men and women, has been the ‘MUNDU’ – a longish handwoven white sheet, a wrap around. While a smaller piece of white cloth, the size of a towel, called ‘PATTU’ is used by the women to cover the head, the men used a thinner version – ‘Mallu’ as their turban – mallu ‘MANDARAY’. Both genders use another longer piece, usually same as the MUNDU, to cover the upper body. – Wg Cdr JP


Dhoti and the Badagas

By Venugopal Dharmalingam
There may be more to the humble dhoti than what the ‘English’ Clubs may think. Dhoties have been the traditional dress of not only the hot tropical plains of Tamil Nadu but also that of its cold hills like the Nilgiris.

2 Badaga men 1865

The basic dress of the Badaga men and women, the most numerous social group on the hills, have been the ubiquitous ‘mundu’, as the dhoti is called here. While men use a doubled over single mundu, women use two pieces of the same supplemented by a head cloth. ‘Each person was thus wrapped in a total of 8 to 10 m of cloth’ says Prof. Paul Hockings, the authority on Badaga social history.
He adds, ‘Cloth among the Nilgiri people is one of the commonest items of ceremonial exchange. It is the one most visible aspect of every person when it is worn; it is clearly differentiable according to degree of newness and cleanliness, especially as the favoured colour of Badaga dress is white’.Badaga man 1920
He further says, ‘Apparel is much more than a cover for the Badaga body; it functions as a symbol of complex and enduring relationships which hold the society together’.
Badagas wove their own cloth in the 19th century before buying them from itinerant Chetti traders since the 20th century. It was made from the fibres of two Nilgiri bushes, hoary basil and harmless nettle. It was said that people of Nanjanad used to specialize in making the cloth. The art of starching clothes to make them stiffer and resistant to rain was also long known to the Badagas.
Even after coming of the British and having close association with them, the Badagas adopted many of their dress but retained the mundu.
In recent times the passion for the white mundu by both men and women has reached new heights. The mundu is given a singular honour on occasions of festivals, funerals and social events. Even the Badaga youth increasingly seem to prefer the mundu to jeans.

The sea of white on the green background of tea plantations on major Badaga festive occasions has become a great cultural sight.

Rare Photos


Remembering you, Mother

Even at the age of 99 years and ten months, your memory was sharp. You would not only recognise, the relative who had come to see you, but would pleasantly surprise the person by recalling many incidents that were associated with the persons’s parents and grand parents.

You would insist, in typical Badaga style, that the guests be served food. ‘Hittu thindhuttu tha oppadhu – leave only after having a meal’, you would order.

For, major part of your life, you were the unifying force of the family that included your brothers and all children. You were, as most of them would call, a mother-‘awway’.

Unfortunately, you were born in the era when girl children were not considered equals. But you took it all with a smile. Though born as the only ‘princess’ to the Nakkubetta uncrowned king, Rao Bahadur Bellie Maistry, who was probably the richest Badaga during his time [in early 1900s], fate treated you otherwise.

Your steely determination, will power and perseverance is still talked about.

To your eight children, three girls and five boys, you gave everything – the most precious being education.

Four of us are alive today and along with the grand children and great grand children, we remember you ever so fondly, on this day, 13th July, the day you chose to leave this world quietly in your sleep.

We remember you with love and respect, mother!

Urgent – Help required

Appeal for help

Bank account details of Sindhu are given at the end

Received the following email from P.G.Stalin ‘sir, please help the Badaga family suffering in the GH, Coimbatore in nephrology ward. the poor girl is all alone and is taking care of her father. Philanthropic people of our community please help the family. very urgent’

I spoke to the girl SINDHU – 9688031644 who mentioned that she is from HULLATHATTI, near Beraganni and her father’s both kindneys have failed. Her mother has also been operated. Because of the climate and proximity to GH Coimbatore, they have rented a house in Mettupalayam. She is getting about Rs.5000/- per month and there is no other income. She finds it very difficult to take her father for dialysis every week as she is not able to get leave from her work place.

In response –Sivakumar.B, Muckimalai   wrote:- SIR, AS OF NOW, I WANT TO PUT Rs. 200/- PM AS A LITTLE CONTRIBUTION. WHAT IS THE MODE OF PAYMENT?

Dear Sivakumar – it is so nice of you to offer monetary help. We have put in Rs.5000/ – to be handed over to Sindhu. I just spoke to her and understand that she is in the process of opening a bank account. I will let you know the details ASAP.

Update : 4-7-14 : Spoke to Sindhu again and learnt that her father is only 45 years old. Her mother was operated recently but complications have set in as her stomach is filled with water. Sindhu, is the only child

To all those kind hearted souls, pl donate liberally to help a family that needs urgent attention. – Wg Cdr.JP


Update 10-7-14

Sindhu’s bank account details are :

IFSC Code: CORP0000016
Account No : 001600101021908

Do not lose a piece of paradise called the Nilgiris / Nakku Betta


Yes, it is highly tempting to sell our land [mostly planted with tea] due to the unbelievable prices offered by outsiders, the so called ‘Bombay Buyers’ as claimed by the brokers -many of whom are, believe it or not, Badagas.

But have you given a thought why ‘they’ are buying land in the Nilgiris, Nakku Betta?

The beauty, clean air and the feeling of living with the Nature – in short our land as handed down to us by our ancestors is nothing but a piece of paradise on earth.

Even if we have to sell our property, please make sure that you retain atleast a small portion to build a house and enough land for a ‘hola – vegetable garden’.

Remember, if you sell your land today, it is going to be impossible to buy any land in the Nilgiris in future for the prices are going to be very high.


[photos by Wg Cdr JP]