Monthly Archives: October 2014

Badaga women


Badaga women

by Dr.R.K.Haldorai

Tremendous changes have taken place in the status and position of women in our society. Now woman is no longer looked upon as a ‘hari bakke’ (running grit i.e., child-bearing machine). She has acquired a new status and a higher social stature. Women are now better educated and few of them fortune enough to hold important jobs. At the same time, there is a grey area which is to be pondering over. On the one hand the socio-economic condition of our women has improved in the last few decades, thus resulting in lesser restrictions within the home and greater freedom of movement outside the home. On the other hand, still in some domain their status appears to have remained the same.

The women in our society seem more independent and self-assured. As wage-earners Badaga women occupy primary place and many of them earn more than their husbands. Nevertheless they continue to occupy an inferior status and the ‘hatti’(hamlet) is still very much male dominated. Economic independence and education do not seem to necessarily make women more powerful or enable them to get a place in decision making process. Even though the female population of our ‘hatti’ is a sizable one, the women seem to have very little decision making power.

To our dismay, even they do not participate in the public affairs like manda (village assembly) etc. Even though many of them are well educated, still they have to act as intellectually dependent upon men on common affairs and religiously they have no public role. A woman in the role of wife is subordinate to all desires, the whims and the angers of her husband.

It is said that in olden days, mother-in-law with sons and daughters-in-law is very powerful within the home and she forgets her past and starts ill treating her young daughter-in-laws. But the present generation mother-in-laws changed their attitude altogether. Now, it is true that some treat their daughters-in-law as their own daughters. Due to this, most of the present generation women are treating their mothers-in-law as their companion and interacting with them freely.

Compared to our ‘hethais’ (grandmothers) now women go out quite a lot. They go out to see the matters like buying groceries, selling farm products, visiting hospitalised patients. In the past woman would never sit in front of her father-in-law of her husband. In fact they were expected to stand behind a door and answer their questions. This attitude also changed considerably. However, if daughters-in-law are very dutiful they may not have any trouble with their in-laws.

Widows unlike married and menstruating women are pure but inauspicious in some other societies. But in Badaga society widows enjoy equal status like other women. Of course with borrowed ideas few prefer widows not to perform some rituals in rare occasions. In fact this is insignificant. In total, in our society there is no inauspicious attached to them.

Formerly women stayed away from the house in a shed (olegudi) each month during their menstrual periods. Women used to feel absolutely miserable on those three days. At night they have to sleep on mat and use only old blankets etc. That was the practice in those days and every one had to follow it. But now women do not adhere to these rules very strictly. Of course even now some do not enter ‘ogamane’ (kitchen) or puja room on these three days and sleep alone in a separate bed. Here we shall see that the rules of pollution and purity are not abandoned but are redefined.

Due to various socio-economic reasons late marriages are slowly being introduced in our society. Women now seem to get married only in early twenties or later than that. The convention that men and women from respectable families ought to get married according to the wishes of their parents still persists, strongly in our society. In olden days the bride groom’s family would be satisfied if she could cook, take care of a family and generally know everything that was necessary to be a good wife. Now, in addition, the education given to women comes as a plus point. Hence Badaga women believe that education given to their daughters fetches eligible men, as most young men these days prefer to marry only educated women.

Old women, in other societies, do lose their power within their homes and become unwanted. Older women in our society, on the contrary, have greater freedom and wield a large influence in the management of household affairs. They are respected more and as older married women they are symbols of auspiciousness.

In short the tradition oriented atmosphere of the ‘hatti’ is clearly reflected in the lives of its women. Indeed our women have tried and adapted the modern living conditions to suit their traditional way.
[ Wg Cdr JP adds – I have met Dr.R.K.Haldorai on a few occasions – he was one of the main architects of Nanjanadu Peace Committee – and found him to be highly knowledgeable and a simple & friendly person. Being a scholar and involved in researching about our society, he has written many books on Badaga – both people and language.  These books have been published by Nellikolu Trust -under the able care of R.Dharuman. He lives in Chennai (733, Mullai nagar, Tambaram West, Chennai -600045) and can be contacted on cell: 9444503414 ]


Badaga Poems

One of the enchanting aspects of Badaga Language is its disarming simplicity. But though the sentences are swathed in sweetness of simple words, it can contain deep expressions of emotions conveyed in the proper usage of rhymes [holla – alla] or pair words [huttu – nattu] apart from other attributes. When the sweetness of this language is combined to carry the human expressions in the form of a poetry, it is a great pleasure to indulge oneself in a world of sheer bliss.

When I came across the following poem, my first reaction was, ‘how beautifully the love of a mother has been brought out’. That set me thinking that there may be many other ‘unsung’ poets among ourselves. How nice if their poems in BADAGA could find a wider audience? I am not talking about some KAVITHAI in Tamil or a poetry in English. BUT ONLY BADAGA POEMS. By the way what is the word in Badaga for poem & poetry? I am sure it is not kavithai or kavi . Cannot be kadhe (song) too. Then……..??

This poem titled ‘My Mother’ by Mohan (hope he reads this and sends more of his creations) beautifully describes the filial bond and eternal love a mother has for her son even in very adverse, trying and difficult situations. She could not find any fault nor found anything demeaning, in the one whom she had brought into this world,nurtured, carried on her hips, cared for and brought up even when the rest of world rejected and rediculed him. I have attempted an English translation and hope I have captured the essence of the deep feelings expressed in the poem.The author has really ‘ played’ with the rhyming Badaga words and forcefully brought out not only the sadness and silent suffering of a son but also the uncompromised love of a mother.

Enna Awai
by B.Mohan [of Kunna Bikkatti]

(From ‘Mandhadha Maathu’ – Published by Badaga Welfare Association, Madras, issue dated 1-4-93 (Hannu 3,- Hoo 10)

Kettu Muridhu Naa Kerio Kulibaneyu
Huttu Nattu Enna Hollandhu Hegoneyu
Hethu Thathi Saakidha Awai Enna
Hollandhu Hegule Maathi Allandhu thallule
Goonu bhuddu Naa Cooli Geevaneyu
Huttu Kettu Naa Maasi Kulibaneyu
Pattu Beetha Batte Ikkoneyu
Kettandhu Hegule Awai Enna Mattandhu Thallule
Kottage Huggi Naa Geria Baakoneyu
Araya Kulidu Naa Danava Mesoneyu
Horia Thookki Naa Hotte Kaibeneyu
Kore Ondhu Hegule Awai Ondhu Ariandhu Nudivile

என்ன அவ்வை
[ பி .மொஹன் – குன்ன பிக்கட்டி]
(மந்தத மாத்து, படக வெல்ஃபெர் அசொசியெஷன், மெட்ராஸ்,1-4-93 ,(ஹண்ணு 3, ஹூ 10)
கெட்டு முரிது நா கேரியோ குளிபனெயு,
ஹுட்டு நட்டு என்ன ஹொல்லந்து ஹெகொனெயு,
ஹெத்து தத்தி சாக்கித அவ்வை என்ன,
ஹொல்லாந்து ஹெகுலே, மாத்தி அல்லாந்து தள்ளுலெ.
கூனு புத்து நா கூலி கீவனேயு,
ஹுட்டு கெட்டு நா மாசி குளிபனெயு,
பட்டு பீத்த பட்டே இக்கொனேயு,
கெட்டுண்டு ஹொகலி எந்து அவ்வை
என்ன மட்டாந்து தள்ளுலெ.
கொட்டகே ஹுக்கி நா கொரெய பாக்கோனெயு,
அரய குளிது நா தனவ மெசுவொனெயு,
ஹோரிய தூக்கி நா ஹொட்டே கைபெனெயு,
கொரெ எந்து ஹேகுலெ அவ்வை
ஒந்து அரியாந்து நுடிவிலெ



My Mother

[English Translation of the above poem by Bellie Jayaprakash]

Even when I was down with poverty and sat at the front court yard,
Even when the near and dear ones despised and deserted,
My mother who gave birth, cared for and brought me up,
Did not blame me and did not reject me- her son, as bad

Even when I toiled as a Cooli with a bent back,
Even when I sat down with my looks dulled and dirty
Even when I wore patched up old clothes
My mother never said that I was down ; never rejected me as poor !

Even when I swept the stables to clean the cow dung,
Even when I sat on the rock to tender the cows,
Even when I lifted loads so as to suppress the hunger with the earning,
My mother never found any fault ; never scolded me as ignorant.

(


Happy Deepavali !

Wishing you all a very happy Deepavali !

On this festival of lights, may happiness fill our hearts and the darkness of jealousy (uri in Badaga) be driven away !!

Though Deepavali is not one of the traditional festivals (habbas) of Badagas, it is celebrated in some hattis, especially in Kundah Seemay as a habba.

By the way, Deepavali is ‘lighting’ of oil lamps. Badagas have a great tradition of ‘lighting’ the DEVIGE (lamp) everyday in the evening. Badaga Devige is slightly different from the traditional south Indian lamp (kuthu Villakku). It is shorter.


In good old days, this lamp was made out of tree bark and called ‘kattey devige’. The oil used was THUPPA – pure ghee (clarified butter). This lamp is placed on the ‘madillu’ – the arch opening connecting the idha mane and ogha mane (inner and outer rooms).

[more on this in a future post]

Henry Marriott (Australia) – comments
Genomic studies have shown that the haplogroup to which the Badagas belong is R1a1 which is shared by the Vikings and also people from East and Central Europe and by Punjabis. Ages ago there might have been a diaspora from Europe through Afghanistan to Karnataka and eventually to the Nilgiris. This haplogroup is shared by the Kodava. Who knows? It is a plausible hypothesis.

‘Morey’ and marriages….

Sangeetha  Sir, can we get married from Kundhae semae to Ketti.Both are entirely different semmae and its so strange about this restriction. Please can I know more about this?

There are a lot of emails I get from youngsters wanting clarity on Morey and its ‘unjustified restrictions’ on marriages. While we see the alarming trend of many Badagas getting married to outsiders, atleast, some of these ‘naadu jana madhuvey’ is due to the confusion and complications created about Morey. With the changing times, it is high time, we give a serious thought to this system. What was intended by our fore fathers to be scientific restriction to stop ‘in breeding’ among close relatives, has unfortunately, gone a bit too far – unreasonable restriction by the un/semi informed.

If at all, there are important ‘reforms/reinventions’ to be done about certain traditions and customs, ‘Morey restrictions’ should come on top.

An informal assembly of informed and educated Badagas from all the four Seemays that includes both MEN and WOMEN should deliberate, discuss and decide on this issue on high priority.

Million dollar question is – who will bell the cat?

Hello there…

In our constant efforts to make this website a great one, we try our best to get the most suitable theme with widget options !

You, the regular visitors, numbering more than 150 per day, are the true motivation.

Your visit gives me the Vitamins. Humbled but honoured!

The problem is, I do not know how to thank you !


11 October 2014 – The International day of the girl

Badagas are no exception in treating girls as NOT equal(s) to boys.

Let us change that perception !

Did you know?

  • Roughly 1.65 billion women and girls around the world are officially classed as “poor”. This is double the amount of men in the same category.
  • 35% of women worldwide have been subjected to either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or non-partner sexual violence.
  • One in three girls in low and middle income countries will marry before the age of 18 and one in nine will marry before they reach their 15th birthday.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth complications kill more 15-19 year old girls around the world than any other cause.
  • Half of all sexual assaults are against girls aged 15 and under.
  • Every year 47,000 women and girls die from unsafe abortions.

Remember ….Empowering a girl is empowering the whoe family and society!

IPPF - From choice a world of possibilites

visit –

You can also sign I DECIDE MY FUTURE petition that will be sent to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in the summer of 2015 with a million signatures!


Child Labour

Dharmalingam Venugopal

1960 Child labour in match factoryPicture courtesy: Nilgiri Documentation Centre

It is said a picture is worth a thousand words. This picture was taken in the 1960s at a match factory in Sivakasi by Late Philo Hiruthayanath to highlight the plight of child labour. 
Hiruthayanath is no more but the child may be around, about  the same age as Kailash Satyarthi, the Nobel laureate who has been recognized for fighting child labour world wide. Perhaps it was a sight like this which inspired him.


Flora and Fauna


The Badagas have attached a lot of importance to flora and fauna for thousands of years.

In fact most of the names of Badaga Hattis (Villages) are based on ‘Nature’.

For example , the name ‘ Hubbathalai ‘ ( a village near Aravankadu Railway Station) is based on a plant ‘HUBBE THALE ‘. ‘ Bikka mora hatti’ (another village) gets the name after the tree BIKKE (a kind of olive) MORA (tree)


Thumbay Hoo – Thumbay Flower

Wild Leucas aspera (Badaga:Thumbay Hoo,Tamil: தும்பை tumpai). Thi...

Image via Wikipedia

This flower finds a a lot of importance/mention in Badaga Festivals and rituals.


Bird or Flower ??


The beautiful flower bird

Badaga folklore is full of glory about Nature. The Nilgiri Hills are endowed with rich flora and fauna, a true gift of mother NATURE. Of the many wild flowers, this particular one which grows on a short wild tree near many villages, has always fascinated me, where it appears that mother Nature created a bird as a flower….or is it a flower as a bird ? !



A miniature pet ??? “.

Another instance of Nature at its best. A ‘Kambli Poochi’ at our residence at Coonoor.  The day after I took this snap, I was desperately trying to locate it again, but……it has just vanished !! Any insect is called ‘hoo’ in Badaga. Incidentally, ‘hoo’ also means flower.


Seen this animal somewhere?


004 is a butterfly..’bendu’ in Badaga


Also, see the beautiful blue mountains here – the-picturesque-nilgiris