Monthly Archives: December 2014

Religious Conversions

Recently I received  strongly worded comments from santhosh  on  my earlier post Religious conversion (given below) :

This message is for the Badaga people who converted to Christianity….”Be with your originality! Don’t spoil our culture by converting yourself to any others religion, else run away from Badaga community.. go somewhere else and live the way you want….. Don’t rob our cultural treasures…”

Even after a couple of years of writing that post, I am still convinced that the biggest threat to the glorious customs, culture and traditions of Badagas is posed by many Badagas being religiously converted. The first ever conversion of Badagas was carried out by German Missionaries in Ketti in 1854. In the name of GOD, a  grave sin was committed, by dividing a community on religious lines and by sowing the seeds that destroyed the very fabric and foundations of peace loving Badaga Community.

It is high time, this evil practice of religious conversion is brought to an end

Henry Marriiott commented on Religious Conversions

Sir, a person can be a Christian and still be a Badaga and an Indian. ….

Dear Henry, If you think changing the ceremony associated with birth – including naming [giving only Christian names], teaching the children that praying to any other Deity/God other than Christ is a sin, marrying in a Church – not in a village or manner as Badagas usually do or not following any rituals associated with funeral/death can still allows somebody to remain as a Badaga, well, ….- Wg cdr JP

[post dated  2-7-2011] I have strong religious feelings. Born as a HINDU as most Badagas are, I am very proud of  being a Hindu. But I respect other religions and some of my best friends are Muslims, Christians and Sikhs [courtesy Air Force].

But I am against any conversion from one religion to another by means of compulsion, force or inducement. Of late, it has become a ‘fashion’ for some Badagas to convert to Christianity for no rhyme or reason. But it appears that  many have done this due to inducement of money.
Worst is, when some of these ‘converts’ claim sole right to some very old Badaga Traditions and Customs. One such is, the funeral prayer – Karu Haruchodhu which forms an important part of funeral rites of Badagas. It is claimed by an IDIOT called HN Devaraj of Otti Mora Hosahatty to be part of Bible. His booklet called ‘Pappa Parigaara Aagili’ is given to me by a concerned Hindu Badaga. Outrageous !
Will educated and knowledgeable elders among the Badaga Christians care to correct this offending practice?
RaviChandran Balraj had sent the following link ;
image from
நீலகிரியில் மதமாற்ற வைரஸ் – குமுறும் படுகர் சமுதாயம்
15 Jun 2011 |
அண்மையில் ஜூனியர் விகடன் இதழில் வந்த ஒரு செய்தி கவனத்தை ஈர்த்தது.
அடிக்கிற வெயிலுக்கு ஆளாளுக்கு ஊட்டி யைத் தேடி ஓட… அங்கேயோ அதைவிட உஷ்ணமான விவகாரம் ஒன்று சுழன்று கொண்டு இருக்கிறது. அது, படுகர்கள் நடத்தும் மத மாற்றத்துக்கு எதிரான போராட்டம்!
நீலகிரியின் மண்ணின் மைந்தர்களான படுகர் சமுதாய மக்கள், கட்டுப்பாடான வாழ்க்கை முறை, கலாசாரத்துடன், ‘எங்க வழி தனி வழி’ என்று வாழ்பவர்கள். அவர்களை, கிறிஸ்துவ மதத்தினர் கட்டாய மதமாற்றம் செய்வதாகத் தகவல்கள் பரவவே, சலசலப்பு எழுந்துள்ளது. இது தொடர்பாக, கடந்தமே 25-ம் தேதி நீலகிரி மாவட்ட ஆட்சியர் அலுவலகம் முன்பு,‘நாக்குபெட்டா படுகர் குல பாதுகாப்பு சங்கம்’ கண்டன ஆர்ப்பாட்டம் நடத்தியது……
read the full article here



‘Wishing you a Prosperous and Happy New Year’

The Lawyer hopes you get into trouble.

The Doctor hopes you get sick.

The Police hopes you become a Criminal.

The Teacher hopes you are born stupid.

The Landlord hopes you do not buy a House.

The Dentist hopes your Teeth decays.

The Mechanic hopes your Car breaks down.

The Coffin maker wants you dead.

Only the Thief wishes you Prosperity in Life and also wishes you have a Sound Sleep.

Have a Nice Day.

Green Leaf Tea – Truth about the steep price slide

Dr.Haldorai writes about the ‘Steep Fall in Green Leaf Tea Price


Read the complete details by clicking

Steep Fall in Green Leaf Tea Price

Hope for Small Tea Growers

Mountain Day hope for Small Tea Growers

Dharmalingam Venugopal

[Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri]

There is hope for small tea growers of Nilgiris if only they can reinvent themselves as family growers catering to a value added niche market. This was the conclusion of the workshop on ‘Sustaining Small Family Growers in the Nilgiris’ oragnised by Nilgiri Documentation Centre and supported by Hill Area Development Programme and Fortune Hotel Sullivan Court on International Mountain Day 2014.

Small growers currently face high risks due to weather, price and market fluctuations and are caught in a classic ‘Scissor crisis’. When they entered the tea industry in the 1980s tea prices were high and the labour cost was low. Since then, labour and other costs have steadily increased while prices have declined leaving them caught in between the two blades of the scissor.

Small growers should give up their attitude of despondency and be creative to find solution to their problems by substituting quality for quantity and family labour for hired labour. Small growers can better control the various quality parameters that affect tea such as nutrients in the tea bush, quality of plucking and quality in the manufacturing process and make small quantities of high value teas rather than merely growing more and earning less. They must learn the manufacturing techniques for high value teas from organizations such as UPASI and Tea Board. The decline in volume will automatically help in realizing a higher price for green leaf from Bought Leaf and co-operative factories.
Nilgiri teas are high grown with a lot of flavour more comparable to Darjeeling teas which are consumed without milk than Assam teas which depend on strength. However, while both Darjeeling and Assam teas are playing to their strength, Nilgiri teas are playing to their weakness, thereby keeping their teas at the bottom of the value pyramid.

Small growers should focus on black tea and other value added products like organic and green teas. Small growers who manufacture their own teas should set up a common brand to collectively sell their teas. Already a number of consortium initiatives have been taken to grow organic teas, bio-dynamic teas, soft leaves and so on. With such concerted backward and forward linkages on a consortium mode and with the assistance of Tea Board, Small farmers can confidently sustain themselves.

In recognition of the ‘increasing significance of the small-growers sector’, the Tea Board has allocated Rs.200 crores for development of small-holdings for the five year period from 2012-13 to 2016-17.

A large number of small tea growers are Badagas who have been caught in the storm – definitely not a ‘storm in the tea cup’ – unremunerative price for green leaf, unscrupulous green leaf tea agents, unhelpful attitude of the Tea factories and not easily approachable Tea Board & UPASI.

The initiative taken by NDC, hope and pray, will bring some cheer in this winter chill – Wg Cdr JP


Senthil []
comments on Badaganadu
This community people are different from Badagas of Nilgiris.  They speak Kannada not Badaga language. So please don’t confuse Badagas of Nilgiris with these people.

I am in total agreement with Senthil. The idea of the post is that there are others associated with just the name BADAGA and not BADAGAS – JP

The following information is from badaganadusangha website

The Badaganadu are a Brahmin community that mainly resides in Karnataka, and now due to the advent of globalization they are spread throughout the world. Badaganadu Community is one of the three main streams of adherents to the Advaita Vedanta propounded by Sri Shankaracharya and are followers of the Smarta tradition (known as Smartism). Smarta is derived from ‘Smrithi’ a Sanskrit word with the meaning of one who “remembers or reveres their teacher/Guru”.

Literally, Badaganadu means the northern land, probably originating from badaga (north). Referred to the community, it might mean people from the northern parts, who were brought to perform pujas in Sanskrit language. The mother tongue of Badaganadu community has been Kannada, and are largely spread around the northern parts of Karnataka, Bellary and Anantapur districts, Bangalore, Shivamogga, Chikkamagaluru, Davanagere, Chitradurga, Holenarasipura, Madhugiri, Tumkur and other parts of Karnataka.
Badaganadu Community emphasises a strong education, thus most of the community members are well educated and are Engineers, doctors, Officers etc.

The main deity of some of the Badaganadus is Lord Venkateshwara and for some it is Lord Mylaralingeshwara or Lord Malatesha of Devaragudda or Mailara near Ranebennur in Haveri District, the last three located in Norther parts of Karnataka. Badaganadu’s celebrate most of the South Indian Festivals like Ugadi, Navaratri, Deepavali and Gowri Ganesha festivals.

There are many Badaganadu organizations spread all over Karnataka, like The Badaganadu sangha in Bangalore, Badaganadu Balaga in Mysore etc.

One can find Badagandu people hailing from around Mysore, Mandya and even Coimbatore. Though Badaganadu people adhere to AdiShankara’s teachings and are advaitins. They celebrate almost all festivals and vrathas be it pertaining to please Shiva or Krishna or Rama or Narasimha or Ganesha or any other deity/God. Truly cosmopolitan Hindu outlook is shown by this community. Though most of the Badagandu community are Smarthas, there is a large Badaganadu sect amongst Madhwas; some say that Madhwas were originally advaitins but chose to profess Madhwacharya’s Dwaita teachings due to reasons of losing in religious debate or were overcome by the influence of the new thought. Whatever it might be, this community truly blends well without any show off of ego or fanfare. Nanajanagoodu shrikanteshwara is the main deity for most of the Badaganaadu Brahmins.

[This interesting piece of information was sent by ARI JOGHIE ]


Ooty ‘varkey’ may be a local innovation
Dharmalingm Venugopal

[Nilgiri Documentation Centre,Kotagiri]

The Ooty ‘varkey’ due for Geographical Indication,  appears to have been an innovation of a local baker, quite likely from Kerala. There is no mention about ‘varkies’ in the British period.  The Blue Mountain Bakery advertises as late as 1916 about so many items of  breads, biscuits, cakes and pastries but no ‘varkies’. In any case, this  humble, semi-sweet, coarse pastry would hardly have appealed to the English palate.


photo: jp

The ‘varkey’ may be an innovation which was necessitated during the World Wars when maida and other ingredients were in terribly short supply. World War II is more likely the period as that is when the local Badagas started replacing the departing English population in the towns.  Since then the Badagas have been hooked to ‘varkies’ which has given an almost ritual status.

As for the name  goes, it could simply refer to one Varkey who invented or innovated it as a Stanes’ alumni recalls, ‘The baker Varkey, from The Nilgiri Modern Bakery would come around 7 am… I always wondered if the snack, saada and Naii varkey was named after our baker! ‘

Varkey recipes today include varkey payasam and paratha varkey. However the ubiquitous varkey is eaten best deep dipped (ajjudhu, in Badaga) in tea or coffee.

[People who have tasted ‘barki’ – varkey is barki in Badaga, always get hooked to this Nilgiri special pastry. Whenever I go to Bengaluru, the only item my friends tell me to bring is this delicacy. Many prefer Kunna Barki – smaller variety of varkey. I recently read in the Hindu that ‘Ooty varkey is 100% vegetarian and no animal fat is added‘. But some disagree – Wg Cdr JP]

Sustaining Small Family Farming in the Nilgiri Mountains

Dharmalingam Venugopal

Nilgiri Documentation Centre, Kotagiri

International Mountain Day (IMD) is being celebrated on Dec 11 since 2002 to raise awareness about the importance of mountains, to highlight the opportunities and constraints in mountain development and to build partnerships that will bring positive change to world’s mountain areas.

This year the theme of IMD is ‘Farming in Mountains, farming for families’ to focus on valuable contribution of mountain family farming to livelihoods. Family farming in mountain regions is undergoing rapid transformation due to world population growth, economic globalization, urbanization and migration. At the same time recent trends present opportunities for local development in diverse activities.

The objective is to reposition family farming at the centre of agricultural, environmental and social policies in the national agendas by identifying gaps and opportunities to promote a shift towards a more equal and balanced development. How to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced by smallholders and help identify efficient ways to support family farmers?

Sustaining Small Tea Growers

To celebrate IMD 2014, Nilgiri Documentation Centre will  organise a One Day Workshop on ‘Sustaining Small Family Tea Growers in the Nilgiris’ on Dec 11, 2014. The workshop will seek to identify and  profile small family growers and seek answers for questions like  Are they viable? Are there any alternatives? Can they go back to vegetables, partly or wholly? How can they supplement their income? Can they add value to their product like promoting a niche market? What is the way forward? How to synergize the working of development institutions like Tea Board, Indcoserve? Can Small Family Growers and Bought Leaf Factories live together on mutual goodwill and benefit?

Nilgiri Conservation Award 2014

On the occasion, NDC will present the Nilgiris Conservation Award 2014 to the Hill Area Development Programme in recognition of its role in the development and conservation of Nilgiris in the last four decades.  As the HADP is poised to enter its 40th year, its future has turned into a question mark with the abolition of the Planning Commission.  Whatever may be the new Avatar of the HADP, its contribution to development and conservation in the Nilgiris needs to be acknowledged. It has touched all corners, all aspects and all sections of the Nilgiri society in the past four decades.

[Being a farming community & a large number being small tea growers, the Badagas have a big stake in the issues high lighted by D.Venugopal. They must attend the workshop to be held on 11-12-14 and make it a success. I can only recall the words of Thangadu Krishna Gowder [rendered in his golden voice in a song] ” elay hattalay belay elle dho “. The steep fall in the price of green leaf tea and the terrible menace of monkeys and other so called ‘protected wild life’ in the cultivation of farm produce, have made us desperate and dejected. Resulting in sometimes ‘desperate sale’ of our small holdings (tea estate – thotta). We have been taken for a ride by the green leaf  agents who cheat us in weight and price, unscrupulous tea factory owners who have no qualms in producing adulterated tea as well as the corrupt and cunning tea brokers. Not double damakka but triple damakka – Wg Cdr JP]

4th December is the 121th Birth Anniversary of Ari Gowda

Bowing our heads in silent reverence and respect for all that he had done for our community

Ari Gowderrbhbag.jpgAri Gowder2Ari Gauda[above – text] From the book ” A BADAGA – ENGLISH DICTIONARY ” by Prof.Paul Hockings and Christiane Pilot-Raichoor]

Rao Bahadur H.B.Ari Gowder, the first Badaga graduate & first Badaga M.L.C & M.L.A for a long time  including the British time. He brought many reforms in/to Badaga Community including ‘prohibition’ (no alcohol – kudi) to Nilgiris in British days itself.

Ari Gowder lead the Indian contigent (yes, “INDIAN CONTIGENT”) to World Scouts Jamboree held in Europe in the 1930s.

Ari Gowder was associated with the Nilgiri Mountain Railways, now an UN Heritage,  right from the time this great and beautiful track was established in early 1900s till his death in 1971. In fact his father Rao Bahadur H.J.Bellie Gowder was contracted by the British to lay the mountain railway from Mettupalayam to Ooty. Also, probably, Bellie Gowder and Ari Gowder are the only father -son duo who were conferred with Rao Bahadur title in India, though Ari Gowder hardly used the title being a great nationalist.

He was not associated with any political party  but was a true representative of the people, a powerful orator and  welfare minded  social reformer’ – says A.Kari Gowder [“Prongadu Seeme Welfare Association”] in his booklet published in  May 2006.

                                        AG1 bridge

He was the President of the Nilgiris District board in 1930s and 1940s and carried out a lot of welfare measures for the upliftment of the residents of the hill district, mainly tribals in those days. To remember his contribution to the society, the bridge connecting Tamil Nadu [then Madras] state and Karnataka [then Mysore] state, built in 1936, is named ARI GOWDER bridge (above pix).

Ari Gowder was listed as one of the famous leaders of South East Asia – Who’s who in India, Burma & Ceylon. Who’s Who Publishers. 1940. p. 681.

H. B. Ari Gowder’s name figures in the Famous Madras Christian College Alumni list along with people like Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan

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