Monthly Archives: February 2016

Coppers from paupers – the Badaga Gesture to Gandhiji

Coppers from paupers

Dharmalingam Venugopal [Nilgiri Documentation Centre]

Not long after the Mahatma wrote about paupers in 1928 (The Hindu Feb 21) he made a weeklong tour of the Nilgiris. On Feb 2, 1934 he addressed public meeting at Kotagiri which was, ‘attended by about 6,000 people, mostly Badagas, a hill tribe. They presented to Gandhiji a purse and an address of welcome’.

Matha Gowder of Kannerimukku village, a young Badaga who was then free lancing for the South of India Observer wrote the welcome address. The Badagas had also made a modest collection of coins to be presented to Gandhiji. As Matha Gowder completed his welcome speech with a humble offer to accept the ‘coppers from paupers’, Gandhiji was immensely pleased and appreciated the gesture.

Matha Gowder, the eldest son of Andi Gowder of Bayly and Brock, Donnington, Kotagiri died young. Dr. K. M. Anandan, a legendary doctor who was the Medical Officer in Kotagiri is said to have lamented, ‘with Matha gowder his English too has died’.



Convert Race course for Sports Tourism

Convert Race course for  Sports Tourism

Dharmalingam Venugopal


A lingering legacy of the British in Ooty was the love of sports of all kind. Englishmen brought, among other sports, gymkhana, polo, cricket, boating, tennis, shooting and horse racing to the Nilgiris. They also invented the game of snooker here.

Sports, particularly, football, cricket and hockey continued to be popular throughout the district. Nilgiris produced legendary football and hockey players in 1950s and 60s. The district was chosen as the acclimatization centre for the Indian contingent to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. Several national level championships were held at Ooty since then.

Sports activities have steadily declined in the last two decades for lack of promotion, modern sports facilities and sponsor for sports events.

A proposal has now been made to set up a high altitude sports facility in the Nilgiris. This ought to be done in a manner that will combine revival of local interest in sports and promotion of sports tourism in the district. Continue reading

Badaga Names

[Reproduced and edited]

“What is in a name, a rose smells the same by any other name” so said a great poet. But is it so ? In the context of preserving the culture of a community, the names given to both persons and places can play a very crucial part.

In our history of many thousand years, naming of places was generally and literally linked to NATURE. Be it on names given to villages like ‘Bikka Mora Hatti [Olive Tree Village]’ or ‘Hubbathale [Chinese Pagoda tree/grass]’ or ‘Osa Hatti [New Village]’.

Badagas had [ I am very sad to use ‘past tense’ here] a great tradition of naming their children after their ancestors, usually a deceased grand parent. By this they not only ensured that the dead are constantly remembered but also to differentiate Badaga as an unique entity as a tribe with their own traditions and customs.

Jayaprakash, Sabbarish, Yudhister, Abhishek, Parmesh, Ramesh, Satish, Vivek, Vinodh Bhuvanesh or Shalini, Shakila, Sudhalini, Nivideta, Kaushalya etc are, hold your breadth, some of the names of the so called modern(?) Badaga men and women. If you have to identify persons only from the names, then the above mentioned could be from any part of our country.

Contrast these with names like Bellie, Jogi, Kada, Hala, Sevana, Jevana, Moracha, Nandhi, Ari, Boja, Bella, Ajja, Madha or Kangi, Nanji, Madhi, Kade, Masi, Dhali. Straight away, these names not only point to Badagas but also remind us of our great ancestors.

I have always wondered, why being from a ‘STAUNCH BADAGA’fied family I was named Jayaprakash. My mom who is 96 years old now, tells me that when I was to be named in 1948, a much elder cousin who was both a bully and the first of his generation, insisted on this name because he was a follower of Jayaprakash Narain. Of course, the consolation is that in our generation (one earlier to the present one) everybody was compulsorily given a Badaga name also. For example, my Badaga name is JEVANA. Unfortunately, while registering the name for joining the school, the Badaga name was not included and hence Jayaprakash -and the short form of JP -got stuck. In one of those ironies of fate, when I had to give the [initials expanded] name to join the Indian Air Force as a commissioned officer, my father’s name Bellie became my first name and since we do not have a family name common to all brothers and sisters, Bellie is how I am known  these days and yes, I am quite happy about it.

If we continue to name our children as we do now by following the blind and bad advise of some ‘IYER’ who advises that the name has to start with X or Y, we can surely and sadly bury one of our best traditions of NAMING our children only with Badaga names and thus preserving and protecting our culture and KULA (clan).

The least we can do is, while naming the new born babies, ensure that a Badaga name is also given and that Badaga name is definitely included in the school records as well as for other important requirements like voter ID, passport etc .

[On a personal note, on our part we (my wife & I) have ensured that our children’s names include Badaga names ARI & NANJI [Rao Bahadur Ari Gowda was great grandfather to my son and Rao Bahadur Bellie Gowda’s wife Nanji was great great grandmother to my daughter] along with their other so called names.

As a first step, may I request the readers to list out all the old, original and exclusive Badaga names (both male and female) and give a serious thought to this serious problem. 

Some Badaga names that come to my mind :

Male names :

  • Ari, Ajja, B(h)oja, Bellie, Bela(Mada), Bella, B(h)eema, Bidia, Bulla, Dona, Gedda, Gujja, Hala, Hiriya, Jevana, Jogi, Kada, Kariabetta, Kakkamalla, Kalla, Kari, Kulla, Linga, Madha, Madiya, Moracha, Nandi, Nanja, Pada, Pokka, Raju, Ranga, Sevana, Sele, Thatha, Thippa.

Female names :

  • Beeki, Bulli, Chenne, Chinna, Doni, D(h)ali, Gange, Gangamma, Gauri, Giriji, Hali, Hallamma, Hui, Jevani, Kade, Kangi, Lingi, Madi, Malle, Masi, Nanji, Panne, Paru, Rukki, Sevani, Sing(a)ri.

JP adds (17  Dec 07) found this in the special issue of Kovai Badagar Sangam [1982]by M.Parvathi and B. Ramamurthy

Popular Badaga Names

Male :

  • Ajja, Andi, Appi, Ari, Bella, Bellie, Bemma, B(h)oja, B(h)ola,  Bijja, Bulla, Chevana, Dhona, Dhooma, Dhunda, Dolla, Gedda, Gejje, Gilla, Gowda, Gujja, Hala, Halli, Hiriya, Hucha, Huchi, Joghee, Jogha, Kada, Kakkamalla, Kala, Kali, Kalla, Kari, Komb, Konga, Krishna, Kunda, Linga, Macha, Madha, Madia, Malla, Malli, Matha, Morcha, Nanja, Nandi, Pamba, Peela, Rama, Ranga, Sakkarai, Sakkolai, Selai, Senna, Setti, Sevana, Singri, Sirangi, Thippa

Female :

  • Akkama, Beeki, Bijji, Chevani, Chinnamma, Devi, Dhundi, Gangi, Gavari, Haalamma, Haali, Honni, Jevani, Kade, Kali, Keppi, Lingi, Madhi, Mallai, Maanikka, Mallajji, Maasi, Michi, Nanji, Peeri, Rangi, Rani, Rukki, Sennai , Sirigi, Thippi


We have been known by the seemai to which we belong, to start a new relationship.For example I do not Know whether I call you (Bellie Jayaprakash) Mamma or Anna.If you belong to Merkunad to which I belong, I will call you Anna/Appa/Ayya.I you are from Thodhanad Seemai straight away I can address you as Mamma.This unique identity has to be preserved for posterity.

Hence my suggestion is to have names like


The generation next wants an identity. My younger son calls himself Sevana Yashwant (Sevana is my great grandpa’s name)..

So let us start this movement.Great movements have started with small steps …….

Yes, I agree with Sathu about addressing other Badagas properly (Morapadi Koruchodhu). Since I belong to Poragangadu Seeme, it is in order that we address each other (depending on the age of course) as MAMMA [Uncle].

The disgusting thing these days is youngsters addressing any Badaga elder simply as ANNA or AKKA[elder brother & elder sister]. Even the general term AYYA or HETHE [grandpa & grandma] is so much more respectful.

Though the suggestion to include the SEEME before the Village name carries a lot of merit, there are a couple of catches.

You see, every SEEME (consisting of a large group of villages) is divided into communes known as OORUs (consisting of a particular number of villages in one group).

That is, NAKKU BETTA [of the BADAGA COMMUNITY] consists of Four SEEMES -> divided into many OORUs -> subdivided into individual Hattis [villages]. In a Village, everybody is a brother/sister and hence marriage among themselves is taboo.

For example, under PORGANGADU SEEME, ‘HATHOMBATHU [19] OORU’ and ‘AARU[6] OORU’ are two of the many communes.

All males, say, in AARU OORU are ANNA THAMMARU [brothers] and hence cannot marry from families within these six villages. But a boy from AARU OORU can marry a girl from HATHOMBATHU OORU. Or vice versa. Example, I am from AARU OORU (Beratty) and my wife is from 19 OORU (Hubbathalai).

That simply means for people of AARU OORU the people of HATHOMBATHU OORU are MAMMA & MAMMI and hence ‘madhuve maaduva MORAE hadadhe’ (The relation to marry exists).

The beauty of the system is that boys from both Beratty & Hubbathalai [villages belonging to Porangadu Seeme] can marry girls from the same village belonging to a different SEEME [say girls from Ketchigatty of KUNDHE SEEME]. Conversly, a boy from Ketchigatti can marry a girl of his choice either from Hubbathalai or Beratty. Or for that matter, he can marry a girl from within his (Kundhe) Seeme but NOT from the same village or OORU.

I am reminded of an exception though. In the village KODHUMUDI hatti, there are two groups belonging to MELA HATTI and KIYA HATTI (roughly, upper and lower streets) and a person from one group can marry from the other group. Probably, one of the few exceptions of marriage taking place from within  the same hatti (village).

Yes, this topic is not only very interesting but very important. Hope it gets the attention it deserves.

Also see here or here


Website of Wing commander Bellie Jayaprakash that is regularly updated and more info added

On the unique BADAGA community of the Nilgiris in Southern India…their origin, language, culture and customs !!



No articles, images and other material in this website can be reproduced without the written permission of
Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash B.E.(GCT,Madras Univ).,M.B.A (FMS, Delhi Univ)
Contact :


Sai Pallavi will be the FIRST BADAGA SUPER STAR?

We had written about her when she made it to the final rounds of a ‘dance talent show’ in a Tamil TV channel. Her talent was there for all to see. We are talking about Sai Pallavi, a Badaga from Kotagiri.

photo :

May be, I am a little out of step with the latest ‘happenings’ as I am not very active in social media like Facebook and Twitter. Hence, may have missed out the news about the acting debut of Sai Pallavi in the Malayalam movie “Premam” as the female lead role of ‘Malar’.

While on a casual vist to ‘youtube’ looking for the latest on Badaga Dance and Song video clips, Sai Pallavi’s interview was flashed as a ‘recommended to you’.

Happy to see that Wikipedia notes that ‘ She was born into a Badaga family settled in Kotagiri, near Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu. She grew up with her parents mostly in Coimbatore. Her parents are Radha Kannan and Senthamara Kannan. She has a sister Puja Kannan. Her Mother Tongue is Badaga.’

Sai Pallavi is doing her medical studies in Tiblisi, in Georgia. She is acting as Anjali in the forth coming movie ‘Kali”.

Seeing the rave reviews she is getting and appreciative comments about her in YouTube interview, there is no doubt that she is a future SUPER STAR.

Proud of her being a Badaga. Our best wishes to her.

Vote for Ooty, Vote for Venu

VenugopalDharmalingam Venugopal’s commitment to environmental issues in general and welfare of the Nilgiris in particular, is well known. Being the founder of “Save The Nilgiris” campaign and as director/founder of ‘Nilgiris Documentation Center’, he has done a lot.

He is contesting the forth coming Tamil Nadu state assembly elections from the Ooty constituency. We have great pleasure to endorse his candidature and hope committed people like this native of the Nilgiris and a Badaga, who understand the problems of the place and people, will be elected.

The details about what he  has done as a social worker and environmentalist can be seen here -> ‘VOTE for OOTY’

–  Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash


VenuNilgiri public transport: Tale of neglect and anachronism

Dharmalingam Venugopal  – Coordinator – Vote for Ooty

One of starkest ironies of Ooty is the fact that while the tourists go about  in fleets of  luxury buses the local commuters have to  herd themselves into run down government buses.  

Till 1974 bus transport in the Nilgiris was in the hands of well run transport companies such as Mettupalayam-Coimbatore Service (MCS), National Motor Service, United National Service, Union Bus Service and Rajalakshmi Motor Service, the last one exclusively commuting between Ooty and Mysore. The bus services were known for their cleanliness and punctuality.

In 1974 public transport in Nilgiris was ‘nationalized’ as part of a grandiose scheme of the then government for the ‘progressive nationalization of the passenger transport system’ in the state. Since then the scheme got stalled or diluted by successive state governments. Today most parts of the state have the benefit of competitive service by both state and private transport operators.

In the Nilgiris, state run transport functioned efficiently for a few years and has steadily deteriorated over the years as the demand outstripped supply with the district growing in all directions.  However, status quo has been maintained in Nilgiris alone despite several legal and other representations by citizens groups in the district drawing attention to the woeful condition of the public transport and review of the policy.

The Nilgiri public not only has to put up with the shortage of public buses and their poor maintenance, they have to also shell out a higher fare.  Mini buses which have been in operation for sometime have hardly come to the commuters expectations.

Continued monopoly of public transport by the state government in Nilgiris even after it has grown into an important commercial centre for tea, tourism and education is an anachronism which has persisted for no reason.

The state run buses are reported to be incurring a loss Rs.7 per km on the hills. One devious way to cut losses seems to restrict the services and overload the buses.  Only throwing open the hill roads to open competition will establish the true viability of hill transport.


Voteforooty, a coalition of local people, will highlight this as a major issue in the coming elections demanding that all parties make a commitment to review the policy after the election.


Vote for Ooty Campaign

Giving Ooty back its name makes economic sense

Dharmalingam Venugopal  – Coordinator – Vote for Ooty


see –

Photo –

According to latest statistics, over 26 lakh tourists visited Ooty last year. Of this, 60% were from Kerala and Karnataka. Others came from all over India and outside. Ooty is the only name known to them. In the future several lakh more visitors are likely to come from various parts of the country and the world. They are being attracted only by the name of Ooty.

Therefore, continuing to call Ooty officially as Udhagamandalam makes no economic or cultural sense.

The name Ootacamund (spelt variously over the years as Hottegemund, Utakamand, Whatakaimand, Whotakamund, Wootaycamund,   Wotaycamund, Wotokymand and  Wuttacamund)  has been in use since 1821. Over time,   it got shortened  snuggly  to Ooty, by which it is known world over.

In 1972 the name was abruptly changed to ‘Udhagamandalam’. The change of name has since been a source of confusion and inconvenience for the millions of tourists who visit the hills every year. Many think Ootacamund and Udhagamandalam are two different places. Besides, visitors often mistake ‘Udhyogomandal’ in Kerala for Udhagamandalam!


M.B. Emeneau, the authority on all Dravidian languages, had clearly documented the origin of the name several decades ago.  Where Stonehouse (the first house built in Ootacamund by its founder John  Sullivan) now stands, there was formerly a Toda mund, called by the Badagas as “Hottegemund” and later as the British developed the place, the whole town was called by that name.

Sir Frederic Price in his, ‘Ootacamund. A  History’ published in 1908 dealt at length with the origin of the name and agreed that, ‘ The word is certainly no corruption of the Tamil tongue, nor has it its origin in anything derived from the English language’.


photo –

The Tamilised name Udhagai is only a corruption of the Badaga word Hottagai for Hottegemund.

There is absolutely no mention of the name ‘Udhagamandalam’ in Tamil literature or other historical records.

Considering the national and global importance of Ooty, the state and the centre should accept the inadvertent mistake and restore the name OOty in English and Udhagai in Tamil.

It will be most appropriate if the change is made this year as Ooty Municipality celebrates its 150 anniversary.

Voteforooty, a coalition of local stakeholders, will raise this as an election issue in the coming Assembly polls.

The Mudumalai Forest

photo – Wg Cdr JP



photo – Wg Cdr JP