Monthly Archives: March 2015

Badaga Poems

Badaga/Badagu is a rich and sweet language spoken by the Badagas of the Blue Mountains!

Many BALLADS rendered by a singer in any Badaga gathering had added richness to this unique language apart from bringing out many traditions that were passed down many generations.

Though, not having a script of its own is a handicap, many Badaga poets have kept the great art of blending beautifully the Badaga words, by composing many poems where the play of words rhyme so well and sounds musical.

One such poem is ENNA AVVAY – MY MOTHER by Kunna Bikkatti B.MOHAN (published in 1993) that brings out the true and pure love of a mother for her son.

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 Ekkoneyu,
Kettandhu Hegule Awai Enna Mattandhu Thallule.

Kottage Huggi Naa Geria Baakoneyu,
Araya Kulidu Naa Danava Mesoneyu,
Horia Thookki Naa Hotte Kaibeneyu,
Gorey Endhu 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 கோரய பாக்கோனெயு,
அரய குளிது நா தனவ மெசுவொனெயு,
ஹோரிய தூக்கி நா ஹொட்டே கைபெனெயு,
கொரெ எந்து ஹேகுலெ அவ்வை
ஒந்து அரியாந்து நுடிவிலெ

English Translation of the above poem by Bellie Jayaprakash

My Mother

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 entered the stables and cleaned the dung,
Even when I sat on the rock and tendered the cows,
Even when I lifted loads to earn so as to suppress the hunger,
My mother never found any fault ; never scolded me as ignorant.

I have great pleasure in ‘putting’ that poem in the following audio/video



Badaga Script

Of late, there has been some serious efforts to have an unique script for Badaga. Though welcoming the initiatives, I do not know how effective it is to make it known/understood ‘universally’ in the short term.

Since most of the Badaga children are studying/sent to English medium schools and many Badaga elders are familiar with both Tamil and English, is it not possible to have an effective communication by simply using English and Tamil ?


JP’s Badaga ‘Script’ – BADDU

Though some friends may feel odd about my adopting an existing Language – English – and adapting it to write in Badaga, for the time being, I will stick to English to express in Badaga (Script).

The conventions used are;

  1. Capital letter brings out emphasis – like o is just o – ஒ [ like in only] but O is OH – ஓ [like in old].  For example, oday – break -ஒடெ,  Odhivi – read – ஓதிவி
  2. OHdhidhama niddhana, OHdidhama erindina – ஒதிதம நித்தன ஓடிதம எரண்டின   – one who is educated stops [to analyse the situation] but one who is hasty – trips [to fall]. See the subtle difference of OHdhina – ஒதின and OHdina – ஓடின
  3. Extra ‘a’ is stretching the letter – like kade [move] is கடெ but  Kaade [a female name] is காடெ
  4. Letters which are not in English alphabet but available in Badaga (and Tamil) can be accessed by using the shift key(Capital) – like l is ல but L is ள , n is ந but  N is ண் . zh is ழ
  5. Capital S is ஸ, small s is ச (ch will also brings out ச)

Now some sentences typed in English and what they bring out in Tamil [I have used ‘Azhagi’ translirate software which when installed, lets you to type in English to convert  the same into Tamil script] to show my ‘Badaga Script – Baddu

  • enna heNNU enna kaNNU maakke – என்ன ஹெண்ணு என்ன கண்ணு மாக்கெ- My daughter is like my eyes
  • ELaya nOdi Edasa bE da – ஏளய நோடி ஏடச பேட – Donot redicule the poor
  • Kalla maaththi kaLLa alla – கல்ல மாத்தி கள்ள அல்ல – Kalla’s son is not a thief.
  • Maadhi mammi madhi kettudhuve – மாதி மம்மி மதி கெட்டுதுவெ – Madhi aunty’s mind is gone

Baarivi, Nodivi, Odhivi & Oridivi !

[Come, See, Read & Listen!]

பாரிவி, நோடிவி, ஓதிவி & ஓரிடிவி

What do you think?


I had written some time back

It has always been felt that for a language to survive, it should have its own script. It cannot remain only as a spoken language for long. But of course, the script need not be peculiar and specific one pertaining to that particular language. So too is the necessity of a script for Badaga.

Many have attempted to achieve this objective with various degrees of success. But unfortunately, to my knowledge, no records exists, if any. I am no expert on phonetics or languages or much less innovating an unique script. But the urge to have a separate script has convinced me that it is very much possible to ‘ADOPT’ an existing script and ‘ADAPT’ it to Badaga language.

To know more about the BADAGA SCRIPT or rather the need for one go here

Rajma from Kethorai – you make us proud!

ATT00010She was the first Badaga woman [teacher] to win the President of India award in 2010. Now she was awarded the Woman Achiever’s Award -2015 under the banner ‘Talent South” in recognition of her pursuit of excellence in the field of Education and for being  the change in society [social work] by RajTV along with other sponsors. She was one of the six  women chosen from different walks of life in Tamil Nadu.

She is Rajma from Kethorai hatti.

4411Rajma, you make us proud again!


Congratulations akka. Hope for many more achievers from our community. However I thought we had forgotten the ambitious personality Rao Bahadur H.J. Belle Gowder who had enlightened our community through education. I hope, to keep our community identity we need to erect a statue in ooty or coonoor and explain to the world about his achievements through tourists. This may be a small gratitude we can show to our beloved great personality.

J.K.Manoharan []

Badaga Language and the need for its own script

A Place For Writing: Documenting, Cultivation and Literacy in Badaga Language’s domain
haldorai– Dr.R.K.Haldorai

In the Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu alone, more than ten tribal/unlettered languages are spoken and one among them is Badaga. In the Nilgiri linguistic area, Badaga tops in the number of speakers. Badagas have separate hamlets of their own and due to this almost all the Badagas who live in these hamlets, for at least a few years, can speak and understand Badaga language. During the recent past many Badagas have migrated to other places and the Badagas who are living outside the Nilgiris, identify these hamlets as their native place. Hence, except a few, all are having the natural inclination towards this language and culture. With over four hundred Badaga villagers and few others, Badaga consolidated its language domain and kept its linguistic area almost intact despite many strong negative influences. In recent times, the idea of cultural awareness has increased and this trend induced many indigenous people to look to Badaga as prestigious.

Making Badaga as a written language, in addition to the desideratum of the community, is to actually use the language and to expand its domains. Of course as a spoken language, Badaga speech area expanded its territory considerably over the last few decades. Badaga population too is increasing day by day and now the Badaga speakers are more in numbers compared with the Badaga population found in beginning years of last century. The definition of the Badaga as a single language is not a problematic. Since whatever major dialect language variations may have existed earlier, now the language is spoken more or less uniformly in all Badaga hamlets, which are sparsely located in the entire Nilgiri hills. Continue reading

Listen to these great songs on Hethe – the deity of Badagas

I am not a very religious person in the ’strictest’ sense of the word. But I am a proud Hindu and a staunch believer of HETHAY [HETHE Amma] – the deity of Badagas. In my [late] mother, I see the great Hethe and pray to Her everyday. 
‘GAYATRI CHALISA’ is supposed to be the most powerful 40 verses of prayer along with GAYATRI MANTRA. They are in Sanskrit and I do not understand them fully.[The English translation gives some idea]

The similarities of HETHAY AMMA and GAYATRI MATA are striking and too numerous to list, elaborate and explain.

For one, BOTH are clad in spotless white and formless.

Listen to these great Hethe Songs if you want to be truly blessed

Songs uploaded in Soundcloud by Suresh M

Can somebody help in giving the name of the SINGER so that due credit can be given? – Wg Cdr JP

Gayatri Mantra


ॐ भूर्भुव: स्व: तत्सवितुर्वरेन्यं ।

भर्गो देवस्य धीमहि, धीयो यो न: प्रचोदयात् ।।

ஓம் பூர் புவ ஸவ

தத் ஸவிதூர் வரேண்யம் |

பர்கோ தேவச்ய தீமஹி |

தியோ யோன பிரசோதயத் ||

[Oh God! Thou art the Giver of Life, Remover of pain and sorrow, The Bestower of happiness, Oh! Creator of the Universe, May we receive thy supreme sin-destroying light, May Thou guide our intellect in the right direction]

Gayatri Mantra, the most  important prayer, inspires wisdom and is also a prayer to the “giver of light and life” – the sun (savitur), ‘Hothu’ in Badaga.

Aum = Ohm [Brahma] bhoor = embodiment of vital spiritual energy(pran) ; bhuwah = destroyer of sufferings ; swaha = embodiment of happiness ; tat = that ; savitur = bright like sun ; varenyam = best choicest ; bhargo = destroyer of sins ; devasya = divine ; dheemahi = may imbibe ; dhiyo = intellect ; yo = who ; naha = our ; prachodayat = may inspire!

Listen to Gayatri Mantra here

[Information above, from various sources, is taken from the net]

Go here for more information and to see the complete Gayatri Chalisa

International Women’s day – India’s Daughters!

On this International Women’s day, I join our Prime Minister in saluting the indomitable courage and achievements of women.

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At the same time, my heart is filled with mixed feelings. Happiness and sadness. Happy that women have achieved so much despite the discrimination that they face in their lives – as a child, girl and adult. Sad, because the mind set of males in our society is still stuck up in a time warp. Considering women to be equals is not acceptable to the males even in this age of information, technology and ‘internet’. The great Indian male psyche is filled with unexplainable inadequacies. Women are looked at as objects and commercial commodities in the same society where they are venerated as Goddess – Kali, Kamakki, Parvathi, Sarasvathi, Lakshmi or Hethe.

On this day, my mind also goes to that brave heart commonly called Nirbhaya – the fearless one, whose life and ‘light’ was so brutally extinguished by the lust of a group of depraved and demented men in December 2012 in our Capital. I have lived in Delhi for more than twenty years and the place where the horrific rape took place is familiar to me. And, I saw the documentary that has been made on her.

Seeing the short film, filled my eyes with tears for her brave parents, especially the mother who can’t understand why the ‘Ujala – light’ has been permanently taken away and wonders why girls are held guilty for going out and not boys. The father has no issues in disclosing Nirbhaya’s real name – in fact her photo is available on the net. When he says, ‘I had to set the funeral pyre with my hands that held her so dearly’, the agony is beyond words. Their only demand is early justice.

What happened to Nirbhaya is happening to many girls and women in our society due to the sick minds of many. May be, the degree of brutality differs. But the outcome is the same -rape.

Because, the boys are brought up as superior to girls.It is prevalent even in forward looking communities like Badagas where a lot of attention is given to educating girls. Is the education given more for early/better marriage prospects than to empower women, one wonders.

We claim that the mindset of society has to change but forget that we are part of the very same ‘sick’ society. If we want a change, let us be part of that change. You and I can make a difference.

Let us join the women’s day celebrations by showing our respect to all ‘Indian Daughters’ and by declaring that HER life and honour are as  important as HIS.

First Badaga

Update to the page on FIRST BADAGA
It will be very interesting,  informative and educative to list all those BADAGAS who were/are the ‘FIRST’ in any field. Where I am not sure about some details, I have put a question mark, so that some reader may supply the correct information.

The following list, by no stretch of imagination, is exhaustive or exclusive. I am sure that there are many more Badagas, both men and women, who deserve to be called ‘FIRST BADAGA’ for their pioneering work in many fields.

If some have not been included, it is due to the problem of not getting ‘correct/authentic’ information. My request to all Badagas or those who know about Badagas is, please forward the deails/names of individuals [if possible with photos] whom you think should be featured in this page. It will be a great pleasure and honour to include them in this list. After all, the idea behind this topic of FIRST BADAGA is to serve as an inspiration and motivation to young Badagas. – Wg Cdr JP

Rao Bahadur HJ Bellie Gowder
[Hubbathalai > married Nanji Ammal from Jakkadha, 18?? – 1935]


-First Badaga to be honoured by the British with ‘ Rao Sahib & Rao Bahadur’ titles ( late 1920s)

  • [probably] First to speak and write in Eleven Languages including Badaga, Toda, Kotha, Kuruma, Kannada, Tamil, Malayalam,Telugu, English, Hindi & Spanish WITHOUT ANY FORMAL EDUCATION (his mother stopped him from attending a make shift school run by a Badaga in his verandah – thenay as she was scared that the teacher would punish Bellie Gowda because as a child, he was a prankster).
  • First to open a school at Hubbathalai (later named as Rao Bahadur Bellie Gowder Board High School) basically to cater to Badaga students [a hostel was also built for them].
  • Credited with building tracks for the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Mettupalayam to Ooty in early 1900s. A railway bridge near Lovedale station is named after him.
  • Brought many path breaking reforms in the Badaga Community.
  • He was the undisputed ‘King [Naakku Betta Leader]’ of the Nilgiris during his life time. A musical gramophone record was brought out by HMV titled ‘Bahadur Bellie Gowda, Naakku Bettaga Raja’. The singer was from Jakkadha.
  • It was said, ‘Bellie Gowda Ayyana mane kitchu, kedodhe illey – The fire in the hearth/kitchen in Bellie gowda’s house was always burning’ meaning there was a constant stream of visitors to his house. His wife Nanji Hethe, a stickler for cleanliness, would personally fetch fresh water from a stream at a considerable distance from Hubbathalai Hatti though there plenty of servants.
  • He would present a gold block semi conical shaped like a jaggery – bella piece to any hubbathalai girl who was getting married.
  • He was one of the very few who had a phone connection in the Nilgiris in early 1900s. His phone number was in two digits and less than 20. The phone he had was the old classical two piece type – separate ear piece and hand held mouth piece.

Rao Bahadur HB Ari Gowder
[Hubbathalai > married Gauri Ammal from Jakkadha, 4-12-1893 – 26-6-1971)

– First Badaga Graduate, Presidency College , Madras (1920?)

  • First Badaga to tour the world (1930)
  • First Badaga to lead an Indian Delagation (World Scout Jumboree in Hungary)(1930)
  • First Badaga MLA & MLC (1940)
  • First son (after his father Rao Bahadur HJ Bellie Gowder) also to be honoured with Rao Bahadur title.

[Thangadu >13 Nov 1908 – 1964]

– Fist Badaga Lawyer
– First President of the local Bar Association
– First Chairman of the Udhagamandalam Municipal Council (UMC) after Independence
He was trustee of institutions like the Assembly Rooms and the Lawley Institute.
When the Nilgiri district was in dire need of a higher education facility, Mr.Lingan became a member of a 14-member committee headed by Rao Bahadur HB Ari Gowder, which was instrumental in the Government Arts College coming into being here during 1955. [ Info courtesy – Devaraj Rangan, Porore]

KM Sevannah Gowder
[Bearhatty > married Sarojini Madhan from Hulikal, 1915 – 1999, Mrs.Akkama Devi’s elder brother]

– First Engineer [B.E (Mech) – Madras University]

  • First Professor (?) Engineering College Guindy & GCT, Coimbatore,

Mrs. Akkama Devi
[Bearatty – married > HB Joghee Gowder [HB Ari Gowder’s brother] from Hubbathalai, 1917 -2012 ]
photo from The Hindu

– First Badaga woman graduate

– First Badaga woman MP

Continue reading

Paul Hockings books on Badaga(s)

I had written earlier that:

Prof.Paul Hockings has been the most authentic scholar/researcher whose studies on Badagas may be considered to be very comprehensive. May not agree with some of his findings especially about the Badaga origin [that Badagas migrated from the Mysore plains] but the wealth of information that he has exposed in his books is greatly appreciated. If I have to choose a single book out of many of his works, without hesitation I would go for Counsel from the Ancients: A Study of Badaga Proverbs, Prayers, Omens and Curses‘. Unfortunately, this book is very expensive but you can access most of the pages online.

Prof. Paul Hockings in his email [3/3/2015] writes :


Dear J.P.,

It was really very generous of you to devote so much space to my work in your Badaga website. I do appreciate it.

I noticed that you again mentioned the high price of my two large books on the Badaga language. While the price has no doubt always been high, there is a reason for it, and it is not my profiteering. Linguistic texts like these are very difficult to get published by the most reputable publishers, because they see the market for such books as a very small group of linguistic specialists. I was thus very fortunate to be able to get the world’s top linguistic publisher, Mouton, to bring out both books. The problem however is a straightforward one: because the books were printed in Berlin, the printers had to be paid German printers’ union wages; and these are extremely high. On the positive side, the Dictionary is held y 125 research libraries worldwide, which means that data is available on the Badaga language in very many countries..

Thank you Paul for the email. Since I feel that your books, particularly, Counsel from the Ancients: A Study of Badaga Proverbs, Prayers, Omens and Curses‘ must find a place in every Badaga home, I wished that it was easily available and affordable. Thanking you once again for making Badagas known to the world.- Wg Cdr JP

Let us unite to get better price for green leaf TEA

An appeal sent by Dr.Haldorai on behalf of Nellikolu Trust