Monthly Archives: December 2016

Happy New Year

Wishing you all

a very happy and prosperous

New Year!

Hosa Barashana Ollithe Barali !!

Happy New Year – Badaga Calandar

Today(29 Dec 2016) is Badaga New Year Day

Dharmalingam Venugopal [Nilgiri Documentation Centre]

Today is Badaga new year day- day 1 of Kudalu, the first month of the year.

“The Badaga calendar is quite different from traditional Tamil and  Kanarese ones although they all divide the year into twelve zodiacal or solar months” says, Prof. Paul Hockings, an authority on Badaga history.

The other months of the calendar are Halaani, Nallani, Aani, Aadire, Peeradi , Aavani, Peratadi, Dodda Divige, Kiru Divige, Tai and Hemmatti. The last month is said to be unique and is not found in any Dravidian calendar.

The Badaga calendar,  followed from time immemorial, was first recorded by F.J. Richards , the then Collector of Nilgiris in 1918. In a short but authoritative article in 1920, the collector gave additional information about the Toda names for the months.

“ There is no evidence that the Badagas ever inserted one intercalary month every ten years, as was done elsewhere in India, but something else has been happening to change the calendar” explains Prof.Hockings. and adds, “ We can conclude that the Badagas had been recognizing a 366 day year, with the result that every 23 years their calendar became further advanced against the Gregarian one by about 17 days, because the year is actually much closer to 3651/4 days”.

The Badaga calendar was among the many indigenous knowledge and evidence of their antiquity which gradually vanished with the opening of the Nilgiri hills after 1800.



A beautiful Badaga Poem by Mathan Rameshbabu

A beautiful Badaga Poem by Mathan Rameshbabu [Muscat, Oman]


அவ்வெ நீரட்டுவ சொக

ஹிம்பர ஒலெய
அண்டனொகெ நீரு காசி
அவ்வெய கைதாரி உரு உஜ்ஜி நீரட்டுவ சொக
திரிகி சிக்குவ ஜெனவு
கூடி பந்துனடதெ

Avvey Neerattava Soga

Himbara oleya
andaanoge neera kaasi
Avvaiya kaidhaari uru ujji neerattuva soga
thirigi chikkuva jenavu
koodi bhandhunadadhey

The beauty of Badaga language is not only the style, substance and simplicity but the way it can bring out the inner feelings so powerfully. In this short poem Rameshbabu conveys the great comfort one feels when the mother gives a hot water bath

Kola Devaru (Clan Deity)

Kola Devaru (Clan Deity)



The Badagas are divided into fifteen ‘kolas’ (clans) which are traced in the male line. The originator of a particular clan is the clan deity (kola devaru) of that one. The originator is known as ‘devva’ and the word ‘devva’ is derived from ‘deyvam’, which means god. ‘devva habba’ (festival of god) is basically an clan deity worshipping festival and it is a living tradition of Badagas in which almost everyone in the village participates making it a real social thread connecting the entire society. The festival is one of the thanks giving harvest to ‘devva’ and it still remains untouched and is performed year after year with unprecedented pomp and splendour. Because the universality of appeal, it is firmly rooted in the religious faith and traditions and has assimilated various other cults.

To Badagas forefathers are their gods and they pay obeisance during this festival. In religious observances of Badagas the ancestral worship is predominant. We can identify fifteen ancestors for their different clans (exogamous septs). All these ancient men are called in unison as ‘hiriyodayya’, which can be equated with Tamil ‘peru udaiyar’ i.e. the great lord, lord Siva. It is to be noted here that the ancestor worship was the earliest form of worship.

Clans are maintained by two prohibitions, one on inter dining and the other on inter marriage.

It is in ‘devva’ festival time Badagas are seeking to reaffirm their identity and commitment. They are special cause to rejoice, because year after year they try to find their roots and keep their tradition afresh. This festival is important on many different levels; it has existed for centuries and sustained devotees while maintaining its complex ritual cycle. There is something intangible but deeply felt. Badagas relationship with this festival is intense often very moving.

Each clan has its own ‘devva mane’ (house of ancestor) at ‘ooru’ (head – hamlet of a clan). In the same way each hamlet has a ‘doddamane’ (ritual – house) which represents ‘devva mane’. Basically for Badgas ‘devvamanes’ are their temples and special rites are performed there during festival days, A particular ‘devvamane’ represents the particular founder of that ‘oor’ and it is important not only for its history but its rituals. The other place which has connection with this festival is ‘banagudi’ (forest temple), memorial of ancestor. It gets ‘poojas’ once in a year that too during this ‘devva’ festival. Any Badaga can act as a priest but among the clan of agnates. The essential features of ordination are abstain from meat eating on particular days, preparing him for ‘pooja’ like taking bath in stream, sleeping the previous night at devvamane etc.

While all the articles in conducting poojas are traditionally held in reverence, there are some that top the other in terms of divine association. In Badaga tradition ‘juvikindi’ (water – jar), ‘ele kannadi’ (bronze mirror), ‘jegande’ (bell) represent the very deity itself and these articles get pooja once in a year that too on ‘devva’ festival. Except this festival days rest throughout the year these articles are kept in a hidden place at forest. ‘thumbe’ (leucas), the flower that has religious significance is an integral to ‘devva habba’ and offering honey to deity is also occur.

In this festival Badagas offer their forefathers the food prepared with newly harvested ‘ganje’ (barley, hordeum vulgare) and the milk of a cow which yeaned first time. Badagas make fire by friction for boiling the milk and cooking the ‘ganje’ and offer cooked ‘ganje’ without salt or sugar. This festival is celebrated throughout Badaga land with full devotion and they are strict enough to observe the vow that not to consume any agricultural produce of a particular year up to this festival.

Hethes are goddesses of human origin and they lived different times of history. Fourteen Hethes are identified and worshiped by the Badagas. Hethes take prominent role in the overall life and activities of the Badaga society. Due this few jump to consider that Hethes are our clan deities. First of all, all the fifteen clans are not having their own Hethes. For example, the ‘thodanadu’ has no Hethe of its own. Among fourteen Hethes only few lived along with ‘devva’ (ayya). Secondly, Badagas trace their descent from one or other certain specified exogamous clan descending in the male line. In this background there is no room to consider Hethes as clan deities.

Two responses to the article
1.Hariharan Emarald Bhojan :
The Badugu Gowda clan call their clan deity by the name “Hiriyodayya”. The Badugu Haruva clan ‎call by the name “Maalingaiyya”. Wodeyaru call by the name “Jedayalinga” or “Jedayasomi”, Thoreyaru address by the name “Ketharayya” and Adhikari Clan address by the name “Kariyabettaraya. The Badaga Community is an agglomeration of various Jatis and Clans which trace their ancestry to ‎varied family trees but speaking the same language. Although we may look like a homogenous community to an outsider, factually we are not. While sincerely applauding your knowledge and work, I would appreciate representing certain practises as they are.

2. Bellie Lakshmi Ramakrishnan :
A very enlightening writeup/article. Research on our community is very engrossing and enlightening, making us yearn for more such researched articles. I kindly request you to provide more such articles about our community.
Further, we should collectively organise seminars and workshops on the cultural aspects of our community. Researchers and others interested in the welfare of our community should be encouraged to present papers on specified topics for the collation of information for the wellbeing of the community.  Your steadfast approach to bring out the unlettered knowledge of our community in writing is extremely inspiring.

I personally feel a seminar or series of seminars would ensure uniformity in presenting our cultural knowledge. Knowledge is Power and every Badaga should endeavour to imbibe the knowledge about our community.
To my knowledge, please correct me if I am wrong, majority of research material on our community was done by persons outside our community, now, the advent of the educated Badaga, the Badaga researcher, calls for us to be more uniformaly unanimous in our projection of facts about our community. The research done by the Badaga on the Badagas would stand more scrutiny.

Jayalalithaa and Badagas

Late Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, Ms.J.Jayalalithaa had a special place for the Nilgiris, where she built a bungalow for herself in Kodanaad, Kotagiri among tea estates and a soft corner for the Badagas, a local and native community. She had preferred to give Badagas the chance to become AIADMK MLAs and MPs though among the community, a sizeable section supports rival DMK party.

A much misunderstood person as very arrogant and authoritative, she was a soft person, highly intellect and an able administrator.

In her demise, we lost a true friend of Badagas and the Nilgiris!

May her soul, RIP !

Along with Badaga folk dancers in the Nilgiris on May 17, 1992


Photo- Vino John [The Hindu 06/12/2016]

The Nilgiris has lost a Patron

Next  to Chennai,  and perhaps, Srirangam, no other place was dear to Late CM as the Nilgiris. Ooty stole her heart since the 1960s when she was regular visitor for film shooting. Even prior to her first term as CM she visited Ooty whenever an opportunity arose. She was well aware of the issues facing the Nilgiris.

On taking over the government one of the first things she did was to declare a moratorium on constructions in the Nilgiris and later followed it up with the announcement of a Master Plan. The constitution of the Hill Area Conservation Authority was another major step.

On the forest side she took several decisions including a total ban on felling of rosewood trees.

On promotion of tourism the formation of a rose garden was a major initiative.

On the native people,  she was especially fond of the Badagas but the Badagas failed to make use of her good offices.

As a conservationist at heart she took only a week, after Save Nilgiris Campaign appealed to her, to withdraw the proposed Kallarpallam small dam in Kotagiri. Later she herself  moved into Kodanad.

If her intention to protect and preserve the Nilgiris did not fully materialize she can’t be blamed for it. The administration was often lax in implementing the rules and regulations. The people’s representatives and the public were also lax in making proper representations for the good of district.

The hills have lost a protector.


Photo and text by

Dharmalingam Venugopal,

Nilgiri Documentation Centre



A tribute to Ari Gowder



Ari Gowder

He was an undisputed leader of Badagas. It is accepted, with a tinge of sadness that there is no Badaga who has taken his mantle in leading the community even after 47 yrs after his demise in 1971.

Today is HB Ari Gowder’s 122nd birth Anniversary. He was the eldest son of Rao Bahadur [Hubbathalai Joghigowder] Bellie Gowder and [Jakkadha] Nanji in 1893.

Apart from being the first Badaga graduate and leading the Indian contingent for the world scouts jamboree in 1932 at Hungary, he brought many far reaching reforms in the Badaga community. He fore saw the importance of equality of women and the education of girl child. He encouraged Badaga girl students to go abroad in 1960s both on student exchange programmes and study tours.

Another great reform he was keen on was, equal share of property to both sons and daughters. This he ensured by setting a personal example and leaving behind a registered Will. His property was equally divided to his daughter in law, two grand daughters and a grand son, accordingly.

A great Indian, a great Badaga !

Ari Gowder2

HB Ari Gowda

You did so much for the family and community!

on this 122nd birth anniversary

Remembering with respect and reverence !

Mother Tongue – Avvaiya Maathu – அவ்வெய மாத்து

Avvaiya Maathu – Mother Tongue


Hethey Eeramaasi aadi bhandha erakkadha maathu
Beraganni Ayya aadi bandha bettadha maathu
Kaadey hethe aadi bandha gavadha maathu
Hethappa aadi bandha haaluna maathu
Muthappa aadi bandha muthuna maathu
Ayyanavakka aadi bappa kullana maathu
Hetheyavakka aadi bappa hesayadha maathu
Appanavakka aadi bappa Aaseyadha maathu
Avvaiyavakka aadi bappa alleya gavadha maathu
Aaduvamaga aasaga ollithadha aata kadhey maathu
Oruduvamaga ojey koottuva ollangadha maathu
Maney maney ella nudiba makkadha maathu
Mandha ella nudiba naayadha maathu
Seemay ella  aadi bappa jenuna maathu
Bettadha makka ella aadi bappa belladha maathu
Hatti haney ella aadi bappa harachadha maathu

Kannuga kaanadhey hora emba
Kiviga booyadhey hora emba
Adhu alimaana dhaariya hogindu hadadhey emba!

Kootta kudumba ella Badugu maathu  Aadiley
Makka mari ella Badugu maathu aadiley,
Maney mandhu ella Badugu maatha kullu maadiley
Avvaiya Maathu alimaana aagadhey hattara!!

[அவ்வெய மாத்து (Mother Tongue) டாக்டர் இரா.கு.ஆல்துரை]
ஹெத்தெ ஈரமாசி ஆடி பந்த எரக்கத மாத்து
பேரகணி அய்ய ஆடி பந்த பெட்டத மாத்து
காடெ ஹெத்தெ ஆடி பந்த கவத மாத்து
ஹெத்தப்ப ஆடி பந்த ஹாலுந மாத்து

முத்தப்ப ஆடி பந்த முத்துந மாத்து
அய்யநவக்க ஆடி பப்ப குல்லாத மாத்து
ஹெத்தெயவக்க ஆடி பப்ப எசெயாத மாத்து
அப்பநவக்க ஆடி பப்ப ஆசெயாந மாத்து
அவ்வெயவக்க ஆடி பப்ப அள்ளெய கவத மாத்து

ஆடுவமக ஆசக ஒள்ளித்தாத ஆட்ட கதெ மாத்து
ஓருடுவமக ஓஜெ கூட்டுவ ஓலங்கத மாத்து
மநெ மநெ எல்லா நுடிப மக்கந மாத்து
மந்த எல்லா நுடிப நாயத மாத்து

சீமெ எல்லா ஆடி பப்ப ஜேநுந மாத்து
பெட்டத மக்க எல்லா ஆடி பப்ப பெல்லத மாத்து
ஹட்டி அணெ எல்லா ஆடி பப்ப ஹரசத மாத்து
மாமூலெ எந்த மூதந்திர கோட தொட்டி பந்த மாத்து

கண்ணுக காணாதெ ஓர எம்ப
கிவிக பூயாதெ ஓர எம்ப
அது அளிமாந தோரியோ ஓகீண்டு அடதெ எம்ப

கூட்ட குடும்ப எல்லா படகு மாத்த ஆடிலெ
மக்கமரி எல்லா படகு மாத்த ஆடிலெ
மநெ மந்தி ஆ எல்லா படகு மாத்த குல்லு மாடிலெ
அவ்வெய மாத்து அளிமாந ஆகாதெ அட்டர