Monthly Archives: October 2015

our Badaga website

Nearing 400,000 hits…

That is a lot of hits for a website on BADAGA focused on a small ‘TRIBAL’ community of the Blue Mountains – the Nilgiris, in the southern part of India.

Bala with his wife Gayathri[J.B.Balasubramaniam, author of  ‘PAAME’ and an authority on Badaga, clarifies that ‘BADAGAS’ may be a hill tribe but is different from the ‘Primitive Tribal Groups‘ of Tamilnadu [all the six viz Todas, Kothas, Kurumas, Paniyas,Irulas and kattnayakas are based in the district  of Nilgiris  coming under the Schedule Tribes[ST]; based on social and economical factors as classified by the Government of India. We were discussing about recommendation of Tamilnadu Government to accord ST status for Badagas. 

It is always a pleasant and educative experience to share a thought with him. Incidentally, Bala’s second book on Badagas – PAAME-2 will be out soon.]

Is it due to…

a) the urge to know the unknown about ourselves….

as I have mentioned in a lot of posts, when you dig deep into the customs, culture, traditions, rituals, festivals, food habits and language of Badagas what we know about them is much less than what is STILL unknown….

b) to sift the truth from fiction….

the satisfaction that we have a very unique history….

who is a Badaga….are Odayas and Thorayas same as the main group…if so how ia that Thoraiyas as classified as MBC – most backward class but Badagas as BC….

c) the mystery about the mistaken migration…..

Most of the western scholars have ‘loosely’ identified Badagas as migrants from North [Mysore] based just on the name BADAGU – which means northern direction. They alledge that the migration took place during the suppressive regime of Tipu Sultan who was converting the population to muslims  towards the later part of 1700s,

Though, JB Balasubramaniam, states that the migration took place much earlier in the 12th century for the same reason,

but MY CLAIM is that Badagas have always been  original inhabitants of the Nilgiris like the Todas, Kurumas and Kothas, though it is very much possible that small groups may have migrated from southern Mysore from time to time, mixed with Badagas and subsequently become part of the society. As on today, many Badaga lingyats – lingakuttys – from Kattery area marry lingyats from Karnataka [Mysore]…

d) the traditions that are still steadfastly followed…..

some of the traditions and festivals and are unique only to Badagas. The funeral rites are different from other tribals…

e)the great language that has survived for centuries without a script…

Badaga is a separate and UNIQUE language and not a sub branch – dialect of old halaya Kannada…

The simple fact that this site’s motto of ‘Proud to be a Badaga ; Proud to be an Indian’ has become an accepted norm…

You all, my dear friends, have made me bow my head in gratitude.

Proud to be an Indian and proud to be a Badaga, indeed.

Hope to say – ‘thanks a million’ soon…



Here’s a question that was posed to the Dalai Lama:

What thing about humanity surprises you the most?”

His answer is :

“MAN – Because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he doesn’t enjoy the present,

And as a result he doesn’t live in the present or the future. And he lives as if he’s never going to die and then he dies having never really lived”.

“In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next to best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing

RICHNESS is not Earning More, Spending More Or Saving More, but….”RICHNESS IS WHEN YOU NEED NO MORE”

Burning Issues – 1

Let us be FAIR to the fair sex

As I sit down to ponder over the ‘burning issues’ that are bothering the Badaga Community, three issues pop up as very important. The FIRST one is the inequality with which we seem to be treating our women today. Though, this malaise is affecting all the communities in our country, I am concerned that the Badagas who treated their women folk with so much respect and love in the olden days, are slowly but surely pushing them into the second class citizens category.

In earlier days, the girls were married off at a much younger age [Kannu Huttadha Henga – beautifully brought out in the song mundhutti mandey hindhuga illey’from Berada Bellie Ballad’ but with the firm understanding that they [the girls] could seek divorce at any time if there was matrimonial disharmony and that they would be accepted back into the society without any blame and reservation. Getting married again was no big issue. She always, had the backing of her parents and her brothers as ‘guru mane’ gave unflinching support in all respects mainly financial. This was probably the main reason that the girl children were not given any share in the property.

Being brought up in an atmosphere where complaining and cribbing were not considered as routine, the Badaga women accepted life as it came and were always ready to sacrifice their own comforts. But then, the Badaga men, at least a majority of them, were, also, simple and hard working. Then came the curse of ‘drinking’. And with that, the problems and troubles of Badaga woman increased many folds and took a dramatic turn for the worse. The men folk took full advantage of the vulnerable nature of the women who had the additional burden of bringing up the children. Here, it must be mentioned that a Badaga girl was expected to be pregnant within a few months of marriage and invariably, there was a child to ‘celebrate’ the first wedding anniversary. Followed, of course, with many more children. “Mane thumba Makka” – House full of children – was part of the ‘blessing – Harakkay’.

This put the women in a very disadvantageous position. With many children, divorce was not an easy choice. Thus, they accepted suffering without complaints.
2015-05-23 15.16.24

H.N.Sivan with his daughters

Education has changed the fundamental thinking of girls.  It has given them the courage to standup and be counted apart from the opportunities of economic independence by taking up jobs. Now we see a large number of Badaga women as teachers in schools and colleges. Many can be found in the government offices also. A few are making their marks in the IT field in multinational companies all over the world. Those who are, sort of forced to remain at home, have taken up MT – medical transcription. They are becoming aware of ‘online opportunities’ of working from home. Since most of the girls are educated in English medium schools, they are a more confident and assertive. Of course, this has brought out the unfortunate incidences of ‘marrying outsiders’.

Though still faced with the compulsion of early marriage, many girls have accepted ‘two children per family’ norm as the best option. But still, there was and is discrimination when it came to giving them share of property. The present law of the land is clear. Girls should get EQUAL share of the property. Needless to add, this has also brought the ‘unavoidable’ stress and tension.

Great Badaga leader Hubbathalai Ari Gowda‘s foresight in insisting on girl child education and equal share of property, that were personally ensured by him in his family nearly sixty five years ago, is appreciated by all.

The Badaga thinking, mainly mandated and manipulated by men, has found the clumsy excuse of not giving equal share of the property to the girl children by quoting outdated traditions. This is the problem.

I am convinced that one of the most important and burning issues facing us today is GIVING EQUAL SHARE TO THE GIRLS AS THE BOYS. I am firmly of the view that we have to resolve that we will give equal share to the girls if we have to save our community and country from falling into disgrace.

Let us take that resolution, HERE and NOW.

An email received from IPPF

Dear Wing CommanderSmiling Girls

Look at the difference you’ve made!

Your support has helped us show world leaders how important it is to let women and girls decide what happens to their body, who they live with, the size of their family and their future.

We took your message, along with messages from 400,000 people in an incredible 151 other countries, to tell governments at the UNITED NATIONS negotiations over the last few months in New York, to put women and girls at the heart of their new Sustainable Development agenda.

They listened.

193 countries agreed the next set of development goals, and they have committed to making sure that every girl and woman can live free from discrimination and have access to sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights within one generation. If they are implemented these new goals will change hundreds of millions of lives.

But if we want this new agenda to change lives – and save lives – it must become a reality on the ground. We will now be following how all governments implement this agenda in their country and to ensuring that there is adequate funding for sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.”

We will be in touch in the coming months on this, but for now we wanted simply wanted to say a big thank you and to let you know the success you have contributed to. .

If you to see more about what we’re doing please visit our website:

Thank you!

From Tewodros Melesse,
IPPF Director General