On the unique BADAGA community of the Nilgiris in Southern India…their origin, language, culture and customs !!
Website of Wing commander Bellie Jayaprakash that is regularly updated and more info added
Many mistakenly claim that Badaga Origin is nothing but Badaga migration from Mysore [Karnataka state] during Tipu’s time only because of the name Badaga (meaning northerner). It is very debatable. Unfortunately many Badagas have believed it in the absence of any convincing and conclusive evidence to the contrary. But the latest revelations and links about the language, especially from the epics and writings during the Tamil Sangam period tell a totally different story (see below).
I am firmly of the view that our history is much older- may be a thousand years or more older – and my initial ‘research’ confirms that. There is a lot written about the migration from Mysore theory by many anthropologists, researchers and others. For obvious reasons, most of them are/were ‘outsiders’ – like the early European missionaries and British. The one person who has done a lot to highlight about Badagas, in the 1960s, Prof. Paul Hockings has chosen to go along with his predecessors in concluding that since Badaga means north[ner], they have migrated from southern Mysore during Tipu Sultan’s rule over Mysore to avoid being forcibly converted to Islam. Also sited in support of migration is the resemblance/similarity of Badaga (language) to Haleya [old] Kannada.
But, B.Balasubramaniam, a highly educated Badaga, [who has done extensive research before writing his book “ Paamé ” – The history and culture of the Badagas of the Nilgiris ] feels that Badagas migrated from Southern Karnataka [then Mysore State] about 700 years back, much before Tipu’s time, around 1311 AD during the plundering raid of Malik Kafir.
Though I am in agreement with Bala that Badaga migration, if at all, took place much earlier then Tipu’s time in late 1700s, I am firmly of the view that “It is possible that Badagas have lived in the Nilgiris for thousands(?) of years like the Thodas [Thodhamaru ] or Kothas [Kotharu]. Migration theory is an attempt by historians and anthropologists to explain away a ‘historical puzzle’. Based on the name ‘Badaga’ or on the so called ‘legends‘ that are open to many interpretations or on the basis of similarity of Badaga [language] with haliya /mid Kannada, can we conclude that Badagas migrated from Southern Mysore? Now it has been proved that Badaga is an unique and separate language ( Christiane Raichoor Pilot)
Badaga language not a dialect of Kannada, claims French linguistic scholar
Shanta Thiagarajan, TNN Dec 4, 2012,
According to her research paper published recently in the Encyclopedia of Nilgiris, edited by international anthropologist Paul Hockings, a professor in the United States, there are evident, but isolated and non-systematic coincidences between Badaga and Alu Kurumba.
Hence, the four traditional communities of the Nilgiris, Todas, Kotas, Alu Kurumbas and Badagas retain their morphology and categorical distinctions, some very archaic features, which give them an overall grammatical homogeneity, according to her. It is evident from her research that the Badaga community was created in the Nilgiris with small local groups in ancient times. LACITO in Paris houses numerous varieties of Badaga stories and songs collected over the past two decades by Pilot-Raichoor.
In an article published as The Tamils and the Andhras, PANDIT M. RAGHAVA AIYANGAR says Badaga Language existed with old Kannada and equated it with Sangam or Purana Tamil period
There is also an interesting article here about Badaga (Vaduga) connection by R. SESHADRI-AIYANGAR
When there is no definite evidence about the origin of Todhas or Kothas, how can we presume that they predated Badagas as natives of the Nilgiris?
I am sure the mystery of migration is far from over. If you look at the issue as of ‘definitive migration’ then you try to guess about the dates but what happens if we believe that Badagas have always been there in the Nilgiris much before or along with Todhas or Kothas? Uncomfortable questions that are very interesting and worth digging deeper into.
But given the diversity but the highly commendable unity and uniformity with minor changes in their customs, Badaga Migration, in all probability, has taken place even within the Nilgiris Hills reverently called ‘Naakku Betta’ by the Badagas.