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)
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