Badagas of the blue mountains in The Nilgiris of Southern India, 99% Hindus, worship the female deity HETHAI/HETHEY [pronounced as heth’thay] as their main goddess.. Hethey literally means grandmother. But the ones revered as Goddess’ are all young and referred as MAYADHA KANNI (mysterious woman).
Though every Badaga village called hatti, has one or more than one Hindu temple, there are ONLY three main HETHEY temples, located in Beraganni, Peddhuva and Jakkadha, all in the Porangadhu Seemay (Badaga hattis are divided into four seemays in The Nilgiris, called Naakku(four) Betta (mountains). Beraganni and Pedduva Hetheys are sisters. There are , of course, a few more Hethey temples in other seemays like in Ketti.
Due to an unwritten restriction and age old tradition, no new Hethey temples can be built in any hatti. The week long festival celebrated as Hethey Habba that falls in December/January once a year, is the biggest one.
But, unfortunately, the Hethey temples and the associated festivals have many restrictions for women – MAINLY FOR WOMEN.
I have asked many well meaning and devoted [to Hethey] Badagas ‘why these restrictions have been imposed on women’ but could not get any convincing answers.
There is a raging debate going on about entry of women into Iyappa Temple in Sabari Malai [Kerala].
Societies are changing and equal rights to women cannot be denied or delayed.
On this women’s day, let us pray to goddess Hethey and hope that the restrictions imposed be removed.
There cannot be any bar in/on FAITH!