What a beautiful documentary which offers not only a great visual treat but valuable information about the ‘Toy Train’ – Nilgiri Mountain Railway. Being a native of the Nilgiris and belonging to a family that is deeply involved in the construction of this unique railway system of the world, [my maternal grandfather Hubbathalai Bellie Gowder was involved in the construction and maintenance of this railway line from Mettupalayam to Ooty, till his death in 1935 and later by my uncle, the H.B.Ari Gowder [till 1971] and both of whom were great Badaga Naakku Betta leaders and recognised for their contribution and conferred with the title of RAO BAHADUR by the British], my mind and memories are filled with thrilling thoughts.
Not only that, traveling in this train from Aravankadu to Ooty everyday in 1964-65 while doing PUC in the Govt.Arts College, Ooty, the journey was nothing but a carefree but enjoyable experience of an adolescent in the company of other students and later in 1970-71 as a junior engineer, in the PWD along with other colleagues working in different fields – the travel would steer around with discussions of worldly affairs and politics, the days are still fresh in mind. I remember the return journey to Ooty from Aravankadu would cost a ‘royal’ sum of Rs.3 for three months in 1964-65 for what was known as student pass.
A must see documentary for all. Hearty congratulations to Mohan Krishnan!
Mohan Krishnan’s film on NMR is commendable and well documented. That it is by a son of the soil makes it all praiseworthy. May other competent sons of the soil go about documenting visually other treasures of the Nilgiri hills. Best wishes
Nilgiri Documentation Centre,Kotagiri
First ever portrait of a Badaga woman
Dharmalingam Venugopal (Nilgiri Documentation Centre,Kotagiri)
Dr. James Cowles Prichard, an English Physician and Ethnologist wrote two books. ‘Researches into the Physical History of Man in 1813 and ‘The Natural History of Man: Comprising Inquiries into the Modifying Influence of Physical and Moral Agencies on the Different Tribes of the Human Family’ in 1843.
For the later he had commissioned the pictures of a Toda man and woman. Obviously, there was a mistake and the pictures sent from here were of a Badaga woman.
This print of a hand-colored aquatint engraving of an obvious Badaga woman was published in 1844. This could probably be the first ever picture of a Badaga woman.
An original of the engraving has been obtained by Nilgiri Documentation Centre thanks to the support of Mr. Colin Sullivan, the great grandson of John Sullivan, who visited the Nilgiris recently.
While thanking Venugopal for sending this information, couple of doubts creep into mind. Earlier days, Badaga Jewellery worn by women has distinct designs – the Ear rings – Kivi Chinna, Nose ring – Mookkuthi, and neck chocker – Saradu. In the painting above they are different.
Badaga women also had very different type of tattoo on their foreheads. Not the Pottu – Bindu[dot]. So is the head cover – Pattu.
Update :- Venugopal feels that “it is 170 years ago and it is a painting and therefore interpretation of the artist. It is certainly not a Toda”. I agree.
– Wg Cdr.JP
I tend to agree with Wg Cdr JP that this might not actually have been a Badaga lady. The earring is not unusual for Badagas then, and is illustrated by Feodor Jagor from his expedition around 1873 (1914: Fig. 70). But the puttu is more of a problem. Jagor also illustrates (Fig. 60) several typical brow tattoos of Badaga ladies, which must have been pretty-well universal at that time, and rather rule out sticking a puttu on top of them. It is certainly not a Toda; but could it be an Irula? That seems most likely to me.
Badaga, now considered to be one of the ORIGINAL and old dravidian languages, is not a derivative of Kannada or Tamil, but unique in its concept, construction, pronunciation and grammar. One of the regrets of many Badaga enthusiasts like me is that our language does not have a script of its own.
Recently I received an email from
Richard Parry <email@example.com>
Hello WC Jayaprakash,
I’m currently looking at the languages of India and the similarities between the various scripts.
I’m interested in adding Badaga into the mix, but currently have no way of entering the letters into the document.
Earlier Microsoft considered to include Badaga as a possible Indian Language in its OS developments.
Though some serious attempts have been made by RAJUS, Ananda, Kadasolai and Saravana [not related to each other but a sheer coincidence that Raju is in their names], still their scripts have not been fully accepted and adopted.
Saravana Raju, from Karimora hatti, is a gifted youngster with lots of original and ‘out of box’ ideas in developing a Badaga Script. He has just released his concept in the form of a booklet.
When he called on me to present the book, his passion and dedication came out clearly. What is highly satisfying is the fact that some very young children of his hatti are able to read and write in his Badaga script
He has listed 12 letters as ‘AYYA Bare(y)’ and 27 letters as ‘ Heththe Bare(y)’ and combined them to call it ‘Mammakka Bare(y).
Wishing Saravana Raju the very best and hope his contribution will find an unique place in Badaga !
After graduating as a Mechanical Engineer, (Madras University – GCT, Coimbatore), I joined Indian Air Force (IAF) as a permanent commissioned officer in 1972 and took voluntary retirement after 20 years when I was a Wing Commander. My ‘bond’ [job agreement] was for a minimum of 20 years [guaranteed pension].
I gave my youth to IAF and in turn IAF gave me everything. Full of pleasures and some pains, but what an experience. Forever I am PROUD to have been associated with a great institution of the Defence Services that is involved in keeping the integrity and independence of our nation.
Probably, I am the first Badaga to have joined IAF as an officer (and there are many officers now – both serving and retired)
I am delighted to urge our youngsters (both men and women) to join
whose motto is
‘Touch the sky with Glory’
Defence Services offer you a great career!
Register between 6th December 2014 and 3rd Jan 2015.
Complete details in http://www.careerairforce.nic.in
Remember, as an Engineer, you can either join the FLYING branch (pilot) or Aeronautical Engineering Branch (Ground Engineer and can become a Flight Engineer in Transport/Helicopter streams later on)!!
The topic sounds a little strange? Yes, it does.
I get many emails/comments from non -Badaga boys and girls asking HOW TO CONVERT TO (BE) BADAGA. It generally goes like this, ” I am a non Badaga but in love with a Badaga girl/boy. Since, Badagas marrying non Badagas is rare and ‘difficult’, I want to convert to Badaga”
Badaga is not a religion, and hence the question of conversion to Badaga, does not arise. But then, this important question also begs a larger answer.
In this modern age and time, we have to accept that Badaga Society cannot remain isolated and will have to accept the reality that many marriages will take place between Badagas and non Badagas. That may happen sooner or later and the present trend points towards that.
Though we may hope and pray that these ‘mixed matches’ do not ‘happen’ to preserve our culture and traditions, we cannot change the changing times.
If we look beyond what we see, don’t we want an INDIA that is truly beyond restrictions of religion and region but an united one? But then, how do we preserve the cultural and traditional ‘uniqueness’ of a community in this vast and diverse country? Aren’t they contradictory?
As far as Badaga ‘conversion’ is concerned, why don’t we accept if a non Badaga wants to follow the customs and culture of Badagas after marriage, with no reservations? I am aware this question is bound to invite strong reactions.
Better to be bold and face the facts than to be blind and left behind!