Hethe Habba

Hethai Habba 

comes to a conclusion today in most of the hattis, 31 Dec 2018.

Have a great Hethe Habba !

Happy New Year !!

Hethe Amma, the purest one, in your blessings lie our well being !

HETHE MANE [Hethai Temple]

Madekke mannoondha aaleyu, adhu thirigi mannoo aagha

[Even though a pot has been made out of clay, it cannot become clay again]

Thuppa benne endha aaleyu, adhu thirigi benne aagha

[Clarified butter (nei in Tamil), though made out of butter, cannot become butter again]

Jenu hoo endha aaleyu, adhu thirigi hoo aagha,

[Honey, that comes from flowers, cannot become flowers again]

Holladha vakka Hethe Mane ga hodha maele, thirigi holladhavakka aagharu

[After going to Hethai Temple, ‘bad’ people cannot remain bad]

[from silver jubilee souvenir 1993, BWA-Madras]


‘HETHAI HABBA’ is the biggest festival of Badagas

To read the ‘history of HETHAI AMMA’ Click here

Hethai Habba is always on the first MONDAY (SOVARA), the most sacred day of Badagas, after the full moon (paurnami – HUNNAWAY ) that falls in (Tamil) Margazhi month, or in Dec/Jan of English Calendar month.

It is not fixed on a particular day like say X-Mas which is always on the 25th December of every year & hence the Hethai Habba day with reference to English Calender changes every year.

Every year, from various hattis the male members in their traditional dress [white turban – MANDARE, MUNDU & Badagaru SEELE along with the family DHADI (stick)- see the photo] proceed to Hethai Gudi (mane) in Beragani on thr preceeding FRIDAY by foot. Every house in the hatti has to pay five HANA (25paise coin) in a ceremonial function called HANA KATTODU in the village Hethai Gudi ( also known as SUTHUKAL – a stone under a Bikke mora tree that is worshipped – see the photos below). This money (coins) – KANNIKE – tied in a white cloth will be handed over to the Hethai temple at Beragani.

The villagers will give a warm and respectful send off to those proceeding to Hethai Mane (- they would have followed a very strict code of conduct like not eating non vegetarian food or consuming alcohol). As they (including many young boys) proceed away from the village, women spread white sheets (mundus) on the path and all those (men, women & children) not proceeding will prostrate ( adda bubbadu ) and they will be blessed ( harachodu ). The unique (BadagaATHIKKODU ) ” Ye Ha Ho ” will be loudly uttered.

As you listen to this ‘  Ye Ha Ho ‘ you can feel goose pimples rising, eyes welling up with tears and the heart filled with thoughts of the ALL POWERFUL HETHAI with both happiness and awe.

These men will return back to their Villages on the next monday – THE HETHAI HABBA DAY – to a grand and ceremonial welcome after attending to various rituals / ceremonies at Beragani & Gasu gui. Usually there will be ‘ Anna Dhana

Every BADAGA (male & female) must visit Hethai Mane gudi (temple) either at Beragani or Pedduva at least once to experience and get the blessings of HETHAI during this fantastic festival called Hethi Habba.

This is the only day the deity – HETHAI – will be shown to the public for a few seconds

R. Ramachandran of Kekkatti gives an interesting tit bit : ‘The Hethai Dhadi, considered very sacred, is always kept in the sacred corner called HAGOTTU, which is situated in the OGA MANE [inner room where the kitchen is located] adjoining EDA MANE.

In the olden days the diary products where stored here. It has the churing stick or the MATTHU which is attached to a pole firmly buried to the ground. This was used for churning milk and only the men had the rights to enter this place. The diary products were stored in THATTAE (mud pots) inside the HAGOTTU. Since Hagottu is treated as sacred, it is smeared with cowdung every Mondays with water gathered from springs (HUTTU NEERU) only.

The HETTHAI DHADHI is kept in the HAGOTTU inside a bamboo that has been bored along its length so that the DHADHI can fit in. The DHADHI is taken out once a year and cleaned with salt & tamarind and then taken to the HETHAI MANE during the festival and kept back in its place as soon as the festival is over. Any outside materials that are taken into the HAGOTTU are ’purified’ by applying camphor vapour (KAPPARANA AATHODHU)).

Here, mention must be made about HONE used for milking of buffaloes (nowadays vessels or buckets are used). This container/sort of vessel is a broad hollow bamboo mearuing about 2 feet in length with the lower end closed. Ladies during their periods are not allowed into the room that holds the HAGOTTU. Ladies also, usually, do not eat inside the OGAMANAE where the HAGOTTU is present’.

In olden days, every household had a Hethai Dhadi of its own. Prof.Paul Hockings mentions that HAGOTU is the milk churning place, adjoining kitchen, inside the house – a place of worship, into which the women are not allowed to enter. But Dodda Mane in a hatti must have a Hogotu and if it is absent, the front portion of the kitchen is still considered sacred and for men only. Also called OGASU by Lingayat and Haruva Badagas.

There is a DHODDARU SHULOKA [Badaga proverb] which says,

’sappode sare, hagotu dura’ meaning

‘The milk vessel is nearby, but the churning place is far off’

The villagers give a warm and respectful send off to those proceeding to Hethai Mane (- they would have followed a very strict code of conduct like not eating non vegetarian food or consuming alcohol). As they (including many young boys) proceed away from the village, women spread white sheets (mundus) on the path and all those (men, women & children) not proceeding will prostrate ( adda bubbadu ) and they will be blessed ( harachodu ) by those ‘hethai kararu’. The unique ,Badaga ATHIKKODU – ” Ye Ha Ho ” will be loudly uttered.

As you listen to this ‘ Ye Ha Ho ‘ you can feel goose pimples rising, eyes welling up with tears and the heart filled with thoughts of the ALL POWERFUL HETHAI with both happiness and awe.

They will attend to many ceremonies & functions at Hethai Mane – Beraganni /Pedduva/Gasu Gui .

These men will return back to their Villages on the next monday – THE HETHAI HABBA DAY – to a grand and ceremonial welcome. Usually there will be ‘ Anna Dhana ‘ at their villages.

Every Badaga must visit HETHAI GUDI (temple) either at Beragani or Pedduva at least once to have an unique experience and get the blessings of HETHAI during this fantastic festival called Hethi Habba.

The visit can be on any day during the ‘kolu’ period when lakhs of Badagas in their whites, throng these holy places and their cars and other vehicles would have been parked for a few kms on the all available roads. There are many more thousands of non Badaga devotees also.


This is the only day the deity – HETHAI – will be shown to the public for a few seconds.


Dear Sri JP

Seem to have covered a major part of the processes of the Hethai Habba. To add to this library on Hethai I am presenting a few lines on HAGOOTU. I hail from Ketti Kekkatty and one rare site in a badaga house is the presence of HAGOOTTU . This is basically a pooja room as we call it these days, but this is the only place a HETHAI DHADI is kept in a house other than the temples. And I am proud to say that we have a HAGOOTU in my house with the HETHAI DHADI.

Hagottu is situated in the OGAMANAE which is the sacred corner of any Badaga house. In the olden days the diary products where stored here. It has the churing stick or the MATTHU which is attached to the pole firmly burried. This was used for churning milk and only the men had the rights to enter this place. The diary products were stored in THATTAE ( mud pots) inside the HAGOTTU. Since this is treaded as the sacred place this is smeared with cowdung every week on Mondays with water gathered from the springs only. The HETTHAI DHADHI is kept in the HAGOTTU inside a bamboo which is bored along its height so that the DHADHI fits in. The DHADHI is taken out once a year and cleaned with salt and tamarind and then taken to the HETHAI MANAE during the festival and kept back in its place as soon as the festival is over.

Any outside materials that are taken into the HAGOTTU are made pure by applying camphor vapour (kappurana aathothu). Here wish to mention the HONAE the container during milking of buffaloes (nowadays vessels or buckets are used). This is a broad bamboo mearuing about 2 to 3 feet hollow inside except the lower end. Ladies during their periods are not allowed into the house that holds the HAGOTTU. Ladies also do not eat inside the OGAMANAE which the HAGOTTU is present.




I have added a few photos taken at Pedduva Hatti quite some years back from my archive. The photos of Hubbathalai Hethai Gudi ‘Suthu Kallu’ and the present ‘Head Pujari’ of Beraganni were taken a few days back (December, 2006) when Hetha Mane people were invited to Hubbathalai Village prior to the forth coming Hethai Habba as is the tradition. More on this ‘ritual/function’ called “Hethai Mane Kararuga Hittu Hakkuvadu” later.

On Hethai Habba day at Pedduva – pictures taken a few decades ago.

Going to hethai Gudi
Pedduva Hethai Gudi
Hethai taken out of Gudi
Going to Halla
At Halla
Gilmse of Hethai

The following snaps were taken at Hubbathalai Village on 15 Dec 2006

Head Pujari of Hethai Mane (Pedduva)


My favourite ‘HETHE’ songs which can soothen the senses and bring happiness are……

Betta Nakka Suthiaa..Beragani Hethe tha

Bettadha Jana Ealla

Oh Ennu Hethey Osane Kaathi

[The following lines (slogan with an outstanding hum!!??) will first be used to call our great hethey during hethey-habba.

We, the badagas use this slogan at the beginning to call hethey in a “devvaaduva” occasion especially during “hethey abba” season. Although we use this in other hatties during “poorthi”, an occasion in which hethey disciples/sishyas will be called, we normally use this in hethey maney during the aforementioned occasion and we could indeed feel something beyond….. at that particular moment. Further, we use this only in “hethey devvaaduva” occasion unlike “hethey bhajans”, which we use in all the temples in various hatties during “pujas”].

Eay amma ellitha idhey-neyyy…engaa maayaadha kanney-yeyyy

Eay amma ellitha idhey-neyyy…engaa neleyaadha kaathi-yeyyy

Eay amma ellitha idhey-ney…engaa eeraney masi-yey..ey – Aa eayyy

Eay amma thuppadha dheevigeyyy…thayey kachidheyoney..ey

Eay amma dhoopadha ogeyaaa…thayey ogathidheyo-ney..ey

Eay amma dhukka ondhunaaa…thayey theera bhaliney..ey – Aa eayyy

Eay amma maaraa jalliyaaa…thaayey mandeya bhuttu-nee..ee

Eay amma magaala kaayaaa…thaayey kondeya katti-nee..ee

Eay amma makkava kaappa jaama manakkana bhaali-ney..ey – Aa eayyy

Eay amma baladha kaiyaaa…thayey imbi idathu-nee..ee

Eay amma edadha kaiyaaa…thayey bhethu idathu-nee..ee

Eay amma bhevara ondhuna thayey eaga-bhaliney..ey – Aa eayyy

Eay amma bettadha janavuuu…thayey bhandhidharey-ney..ey

Eay amma seemeya janavuuu…kaathu nidhidharey-ney..ey

Eay amma sinnadha maathaaa…neenu thoarabhali-ney..ey – Aa eayyy

Eay amma makka illadhaaa…thayey mangeya rella-ney

Eay amma madiluga acheyyy…kaethu bhandhidharey-ney

Eay amma madiluga acheyyy…bhandhu kodabhekku nee-yey..ey – Aa eayyy



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 : bjaypee@gmail.com




Badaga Language, the beauty of ‘HA’ sound

Badaga or as some like to call Badagu, is a ‘classic‘ and independent language spoken by Badagas of the Blue Mountains or the Nilgiri hills, in north -west Tamil Nadu, bordering Karnataka and Kerala.

Though it is unique by itself, it can be said to be akin to Halaiya (old) Kannada more than any Dravidian language. But due to the geo – political reasons, it is more and more identified with Tamil.

Unfortunately, some over enthusiastic scholars and elders have been trying to eliminate the sound ‘ha -ஹ ‘ which is an integral part of the Badaga language and replace it with ‘ah- அ ‘ with some unacceptable justification that these letters (as well as letter like Ja ஜ, Sa ஸ, Sha ஷ ) do not form part of pure/classical Tamil though they are very much in day to day usage. .

Let me elaborate and justify why ha and other letters, like ஜ, ஸ, ஷ etc should remain as a core letters/sounds in Badaga.

A Badaga village is known as Hatti (ஹட்டி) and not as அட்டி.

Our deity Goddess is Hethe – ஹெத்தே and not Athe எத்தே

Some day to day words starting with ha

Haalu – ஹாலு – milk

Habba – ஹப்பா – festival

Hannu – ஹண்ணு – fruit

Haavu – ஹாவு – snake

I intend opening an exclusive blog to high light the importance and necessity of retaining these sounds/letters like Ha ஹ, Ja ஜ, Sa ஸ, Sha ஷ
Jana ஜன – people
Janni ஜன்னி – cold
Jakkadha –  ஜக்கத –  the famous hatti (village)

Hasu ஹஸு – hunger

Hethe nangava Harichali – ஹெத்தே நங்கவ ஹரிச்சலி

Let Hethe bless us !

Badaga Calendar – 2019


Dr.Haldorai releasingthe calendar to Raghu Joghee

Dr.Haldorai has prepared a Badaga Calendar for 2019 and the same has been released by the Nelikolu Charitable Trust.

This is the second edition of Badaga Calendar conceived and prepared by Dr.Haldorai after the first edition one in 2018.

படகர் காலக்கணக்கு 


        படகுமொழியில் ஜெந (நாள்), பார (வாரம்), திங்குவ (திங்கள்), பருச (வருடம்) போன்றன காலக்கணக்கைக் காட்டும் சொற்கள்.

ஒரக்கது (காலை), ஹகலு (நண்பகல்), பூ ஹொத்து (எற்பாடு, சாயுங்காலம்), சந்தொத்து (மாலை), இரு (யாமம்), கோயிஜாம அல்லது பாகு (விடியல், வைகறை). என்பன சிறு பொழுதுகளாகும். சிறு பொழுதின் கால அளவு பத்து நாழிகை (நான்கு மணி நேரம்)  

        படகர் நாள்கணக்கில் ஞாயிறு உதயத்திலிருந்து மறு நாள் ஞாயிறு உதயம் வரை ஒரு நாளாகும். ஒரு நாள் முதலில் ஹகலு (பகல்), இரு (இரவு) என்று இரண்டாகப் பிரியும். ஒரக்கது, ஹகலு, பூ ஹொத்து என்பன பகலின் பிரிவுகள். சந்த்து அல்லது சந்தொத்து, இரு, கோயிஜாம அல்லது பாகு என்பன இரவின் பிரிவுகள்.

        ஒரு வாரத்திற்கு ஏழு நாள்கள். சோவார (திங்கள்), மங்கவார (செவ்வாய்), பொதவார (புதன்), சிக்குவார (வியாழன்), பெள்ளி (வெள்ளி). சநி (சனி), ஆதிவார (ஞாயிறு) என்பன படகுவில் நாள்களைக் குறிக்கும் சொற்கள். இவை முறையே சந்திரன், செவ்வாய், புதன், வியாழன், வெள்ளி, சனி, சூரியன் என்னும் கோள்கள் வரிசையில் அமைந்தன. இவற்றுள் சிக்குவார என்பது சுக்கிரனைக் குறிக்கும் எனக்கொள்ள இடமுண்டு. அவ்வாறானால் சிக்குவார என்பது சுக்கிரன் கோள் அடிப்படையில் வெள்ளிக்குரியது எனக்கொள்ள வேண்டும். என்றாலும் படகுமொழி வெள்ளிக்குப் பெள்ளி (வெள்ளி) என்று கோளைக் கொண்டுவிட்டு சிக்குவார என்பதை வியாழனுக்குக் கொண்டுள்ளது.

        1.) கூடலு, 2.) ஆலாநி, 3.) நல்லாநி, 4.) ஆநி, 5.) ஆதிரெ, 6.) பேராடி, 7.) ஆவாநி, 8.) பெரட்டாதி, 9.) தொட்ட தீவிகெ, 10.) கிரு தீவிகெ, 11.) தய், 12.) எம்மாட்டி  என்பன படகு மாதங்கள்.

        வளர்பிறை நாள் படகுவில் ’ஊ ஜெந’ என்று அழைக்கப்படுகிறது. தேய்பிறை ’அவ் ஜெந’ என்றழைக்கப்படுகிறது. தேய்பிறையைத் ‘தேவெரெ’ என்றும் குறிப்பிடுகின்றனர். ஒரு வளர்பிறை நாள்கள் ஒரு தேய்பிறை நாள்கள் இரண்டும் சேர்ந்தது ஒரு திங்கள் (மாதம்).

        படகர் திங்கள் (மாதம்) சந்திரமானக் கணக்கை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டது. திங்களை அளவுகோலாக வைத்துக் காலத்தைக் கணக்கிடும் முறை சந்திரமானம் என்று அழைக்கப்படுகிறது.

                படகர்க்கு வாரம் திங்கட்கிழமையில் தொடங்குகிறது; திங்கள் கிழமை விடுமுறை நாள்; பூசைக்குரிய நாள்; பெரும்பாலான பண்டிகைகள் திங்கள் கிழமையில் கொண்டாடப்படுகின்றன. திங்கட்கிழமை  என்பது ஏழு நாட்கள் கொண்ட ஒரு வாரத்தில்  ஞாயிற்றுக்கிழமைக்கும் செவ்வாய்க்கிழமைக்கும் இடையில் வரும் ஒரு நாள்.  படகுவில் திங்குவ என்னும் சொல் சந்திரனையும்  மாதத்தினையும் குறிக்கிறது.  திங்குவ என்னும் சொல் தமிழில் திங்கள் என்றும் கன்னடத்தில் திங்களு என்றும் மலையாளத்தில் திங்ஙளு என்றும் அழைக்கப்படுகின்றது. இம்மொழிகள் அனைத்திலும் இச்சொல் சந்திரன், மாதம் ஆகிய இரண்டையும் குறிக்கின்றன.

        படகர் சந்திரன் – சூரியன் காலக்கணக்கைக் கொண்டுள்ளனர். அதாவது திங்களைச் சந்திரன் அடிப்படையில் கணக்கிட்டுவிட்டு ஆண்டைச் சூரியன் அடிப்படையில் கணக்கிடுவது சந்திரன் – சூரியன் கணக்காகும்.

                படகுத் திங்கள் அமாவாசைக்கு அடுத்த நாளில் தொடங்குகிறது. ஆகையால் படகு புத்தாண்டும்  ஓர்  அமாவாசைக்கு அடுத்த நாள்தான் தொடங்கும். அமாவாசையை படகு மொழியில் முட்டு என்று குறிப்பிடுகின்றனர். தென்னாட்டைச் சேர்ந்த பஞ்ச திராவிடர்களுக்குத் (தமிழ், தெலுங்கு, கன்னடம், மராட்டி, குஜராத்து) திங்கள் அமாவாசைக்கு அடுத்த நாளில் பிறக்கும். அமாவாசைக்கு அடுத்த நாளிலிருந்து அடுத்த அமாவாசை நாள் வரை ஒரு திங்கள். சக ஆண்டு அல்லது சாலிவாகன ஆண்டு எனக் குறிப்பிடும் ஆண்டுமுறையிலும் அமாவாசைக்கு அடுத்த நாள்தான் திங்கள் பிறக்கும். சாலிவாகன ஆண்டுமுறை சந்திரன்–சூரியன் அடிப்படையில் உருவானது. இது கி.பி.78ஆம் ஆண்டில் தொடங்கப்பட்டதாகக் கணக்கிடுகின்றனர். இந்த அடிப்படையில் தான் படகுவில் 2019 ஆம் ஆண்டினை அய்யந 0பருச 1941 என்று குறிப்பிட்டுள்ளோம்.

        சந்திரமானக்கணக்கில் ஒரு திங்கள் 29/30 நாள்களைக் கொண்டதாக இருக்கும் படகர் மாதம் அமாவாசைக்கு அடுத்த நாளாக இருப்பதால் மாதத்தின் முதல் 15 நாள்கள் வளர்பிறையாகவும் அதற்கடுத்த 15 நள்கள் தேய்பிறையாகவும் இருக்கும்

        சூரியனை அளவுகோலாகக் கொண்டு அளவிடுவது சூரியமானக் கணக்கு. பூமி சூரியனை ஒருமுறை சுற்றிவர 365 1/4 நாள்கள் ஆகின்றன. இந்தக் கணக்கு முறையில் பருவங்கள் அனைத்தும் சரியாக வருகின்றன.

        சந்திரமானக் கணக்கில் ஒரு திங்கள் 29½ நாள்களைக் கொண்டது. அப்படி யானால் ஆண்டுக்கு 354 (29½ x 12) நாள்கள்தான் வருகின்றன. ஆனால் சூரியமானக் கணக்கில் ஓர் ஆண்டிற்கு 365 1/4 நாள்கள் வரவேண்டும். ஆகச் சந்திரமானக் கணக்கைத் திங்களுக்குக் கொண்டு ஆண்டுக்குச் சூரியமானக் கணக்கைக் கொள்ளும்போது அவ்வப்போது சில நாள்களைச் சேர்த்து கணக்கிட வேண்டிய நிலை உருவாகிறது.

        அமாவாசைக்கு அடுத்த நாள் ஒரு மாதத்தின் தொடக்கம் என்று கொள்ளும்போது ஓர் ஆண்டுக்குரிய பன்னிரண்டு திங்களுக்குப் பன்னிரண்டு அமாவாசைகள் இருக்க வேண்டும். ஆனால் இரண்டு ஆண்டுகள் கழிந்த பின் ஓர் அமாவாசை கூடுதலாக வந்து விடுகிறது. அதாவது அந்த ஆண்டில் பதிமூன்று  அமாவாசைகள் வந்துவிடுகின்றன. இதைச் சரிகட்ட அந்த ஆண்டில் ஓர் அமாவாசையைக் கணக்கில் எடுக்காமல் விட்டு விடுகின்றனர். இவ்வாறு ஓர் அமாவாசையைக் கணக்கில் எடுத்துக்கொள்ளாத ஆண்டைச் சரி பருச என்று குறிப்பிடுகின்றனர்.

        பௌர்ணமி நாளின்போது திங்கள் அருகில் இருக்கும் விளங்கிய மீனின் பெயரை அம்மாதத்தின் பெயராகக் கொள்வது சந்திரமானக் கணக்கின் முறையாகும். தொட்டதீவிகெ, கிருதீவிகெ என வரும் படகு மாதப்பெயர்கள் இதைத் காட்டும் வகையில் உள்ளன. எஞ்சியுள்ள படகு மாதப்பெயர்களும் இவற்றைப்போல் விண்மீனின் பெயர்களாகத்தான் இருக்க வேண்டும்.

        அமாவாசைக்கு அடுத்த நாளில் படகர் ஆண்டு தொடங்குவதால் ஆண்டுத் தொடக்கம் ஆண்டு தோறும் மாறி மாறி வரும்.

        சூரியமானக் கணக்குப் பருவங்களைக் குறிக்கச் சரியாக வருகின்றது. ஆகையால் சந்திரமானக் கணக்கைக் கொண்டுள்ளோர் திங்களைச் சந்திரமானம் அடிப்படையில் கணக்கிட்டுவிட்டு ஆண்டைச் சூரியமானக் கணக்குக்குக் கொண்டு செல்கின்றனர். இவ்வகையில்தான் படகு ஆண்டுமுறை அமைந்துள்ளது.

        நெலிகோலு அறக்கட்டளை சென்ற ஆண்டு படகர் நாள்காட்டி வெளியிட்டது. அதேபோல் இவ்வாண்டும் நாள்காட்டி வெளியிட்டுள்ளது. இது, படகர் வரலாற்றில் முதல்முதலாக, சந்திரன் – சூரியன் காலக்கணக்கைக் கொண்டு அச்சிட்ட நாட்காட்டி என்னும் சிறப்பைப் பெறுகிறது.   

                                                                -முனைவர் இரா.கு.ஆல்துரை

Badaga Blessings

One of the wonderful and deeply meaningful customs of Badagas, is the seeking blessings of elders. That is, whenever any person meets/visits an elder, he or she seeks the blessings of the elderly person [elderly does not mean aged/old but only elder by age] by bowing the head and requesting “Harachu (bless me)”.
 If any headgear like cap/turban is worn, the same is removed. The elder, placing his/her right hand [or both hands] on top of the head of the youngster would bless [broadly] with the following words – footwear [kevaru / mettu]as well as the headgear [cap/kovili or turban / mandare] would be removed before blessings are sought / offered. The elderly person  blesses as ‘ Ondhu Nooru, Saavira Agili [let one become a hundred and then a thousand];  Somi, harachavu,sogavu kodili [may God give good health and happiness]; Hoppa eday, bappa eday ella ollithay barali [let only good things happen while going out or coming back]‘

Badaga Blessings

 This tradition not only ensures respect to elders but also shows the close bond. Incidentally, open palms -where the nerves end, is supposed to transmit positive vibrations. Thus, the open palms placed on the head, is the ultimate way of blessing.
If you are new to this custom, it may make us a bit uneasy and shy but when you get used to it, this is pure bliss.

Let us start seeking the blessings from the most neglected elders – our parents.

1. Ollithagi, ondhu saaviraagi, ko endu korasi, bo endu bokki, nooru thumbi, naadu jaradu, dheera p(b)oorana aagi, baddukki ba

[Let everything become good, let one become a thousand(wealth), let ‘ko’ be the call, let it boil as ‘bo’, let 100 (years) be completed, visit all [over] nation(s), be a great and enlightened person & come back with all these.

2. Ollitha Ethi, Hollava Thalli, Olagodho Ellava Geddu Ba

[Leave all that is bad, take all that is good , come back winning all/everything in this world]

3. Enna maathi / hennu, , sangatta salippu elladhe ollenge iru, paddipperi mundhuga hesarethi baa, hoppa dhari, Bappa Dhari yo, edinjillu elladhe ollange agili, Nee olagava hedithu ba !

[ Oh my son/daughter, let you live well without any disease or discomfort, let you become famous and may education take you forward, wherever you go, let there be no interruptions or hindrances and  may you come back safely. May you rule [lead] the nation (with your wisdom)]!

Full text :

ondhu, ompaththu aagali,

ondhu, saavira aagali,

harachchava kodali, sogava kodali,

baNda hechchali, badhukku hechchali,

bE hechchali, haalu hechchali, haNNu hechchali,

manE katti, maaru kattili,

ondhu manE, saavira manE aagali,

beNNE bettu aagali, thuppa theppa aagali,

hulla muttilE hoo aagali, kalla muttilE kaai aagali,

honna muttilE sinna aagali,

bettadhudhu bandhalEyu, beraluga adangali,

attudhadhu bandhalEyu, aangai adangali,

Kattidhadhu karEyali, biththidhadhu bEyali,

aanaiya balava kodali, ariyaa siriyaa  kodali,

budhdhi bevarava kodali,

uri hOgi, siri barali, siri sippaaththi agali,

HOppa edE, bappa edE ellaa, oLLiththE barali,

nooru thumbi, naadu jaradhu, dheera pooraNa aagi,

OLLiththa Eththi, Hollava ThaLLi, olagodho ellaava Gedhdhu,

sangatta salippu illaadhe,

hoppa dhaari, Bappa Dhaari yo, edinjilu iLLaadhe,

padippEri mundhuga hesareththi,

kumbE kudi haradha engE, angaalu muLLu muriyaadhE,

kO endhu korachchi, bO endhu bokki,

ManE thumba makka hutti, gOttu thumba sosE kondu,

paava pariya nOdi, olagadha hesaru eththi

badhukki baa

ஒந்து, ஒம்பத்து ஆகலி,
ஒந்து, சாவிர ஆகலி,ஹரச்சவ கொடலி, சொகவ கொடலி,
பண்ட ஹெச்சலி, பதுக்கு ஹெச்சலி,
பே ஹெச்சலி, ஹாலு ஹெச்சலி, ஹண்ணு ஹெச்சலி,

மனே கட்டி, மாரு கட்டிலி,ஒந்து மனே, சாவிர மனே ஆகலி,

பெண்ணே பெட்டு ஆகலி, துப்ப தெப்ப ஆகலி,ஹுல்ல முட்டிலே ஹூ ஆகலி, கல்ல முட்டிலே காய் ஆகலி,ஹொன்ன முட்டிலே சின்ன ஆகலி,

பெட்டதுது பந்தலேயு, பெரலுக அடங்கலி,அட்டுதது பந்தலேயு, ஆங்கை அடங்கலி,

கட்டிதது கரேயலி, பித்திதது பேயலி,

ஆனைய பலவ கொடலி, அரியா சிரியா கொடலி,புத்தி பெவரவ கொடலி,

உரி ஹோகி, சிரி பரலி, சிரி சிப்பாத்தி அகலி,

ஹோப்ப எடே, பப்ப எடே எல்லா, ஒள்ளித்தே பரலி,

நூரு தும்பி, நாடு ஜரது, தீர பூரண ஆகி,

ஓள்ளித்த ஏத்தி, ஹொல்லவ தள்ளி,

ஒலகொதொ எல்லாவ கெத்து,சங்கட்ட சலிப்பு இல்லாதெ,

ஹொப்ப தாரி, பப்ப தாரி யொ, எடிஞ்சிலு இல்லாதே,

படிப்பேரி முந்துக ஹெசரெத்தி,

கும்பே குடி ஹரத எங்கே,

அங்காலு முள்ளு முரியாதே,

கோ எந்து கொரச்சி,

போ எந்து பொக்கி,மனே தும்ப மக்க ஹுட்டி, கோட்டு தும்ப சொசே கொண்டு,

பாவ பரிய நோடி, ஒலகத ஹெசரு எத்தி

பதுக்கி பா

English Translation

Let  prosperity/good deeds increase nine folds,[ondhu – one, ombaththu – nine, aagali – happen]

Let a prosperity increase a thousand times, [saavira – thousand]

Let good health and happiness be bestowed[haracha – health, soga – happiness, kodali – given]

Let the cattle wealth / livestock (number of buffalows and cows) increase[banda – cattle]

Let wealth  increase[badhukku – wealth]

Let the (sown) crops increase[bay – crops)Let the milk (yield) increase[haalu – milk]

Let the fruits increase[hannu – fruits]May you build (your own) a house[manay – house, katti – build]

May you get married[maaru katti – marriage]

Let one house become a thousand[may your family increase]

Let the butter [yield] grow to a mountain,[bennay – butter, bettu – mountain]

Let ghei (clarified butter) made become large like a well[thuppa – ghei, theppa – well]

Let grass turn to flowers and stones to fruits when touched[Hullu – grass,muttilay – touched, hoo – flower, kallu – stone , kaai – unripe fruit]

Let iron turn to gold[Honna – iron, sinna – gold]

Even if trouble comes in huge amount like a mountain, let it be contained in a finger[betta – mountain, bandalay – coming, beralu – finger, adangali – contained]

Even if trouble comes like a deep valley, let it be contained in the palm (fist)

Let the tied cow give milk,[kattidhadhu – tied, karayali -milking]

Let whatever is sown ,grow well[biththidhadhu – sown, bayyali – grow well]

Let the strengh of Elephant be bestowed (on you)[Aanay – elephant, bala – strengh]

Let a lot of happiness be given,[siri – happiness]

May you become intelligent and wise[budhdi – intelligence, bevara – wisdom]

Let jealousy vanish and happiness prevail[uri – jealousy /envy]

Let happiness increase many fold [sippathi – manyfold]

Let only good things happen wherever you go and come[Hoppa – going, bappa – coming, eday – place, olliththu – goodness]

Let you live to be a full  hundred  with lots of wisdom so as to make others wonder(envious)[nooru – hundred, thumbi – full/filled, naadu – nation/others, jaradu – envious, Deera – wisdom, poorana – complete /lots, aagi – become]

Take only the good and leave behind the bad[olliththu – good,eththi – take, holla – bad, thalli – leave behind]

May you win all in this world[olaga – world, ellava – all, geddhu – win]without any worries and problems,[sangatta – worries, salippu – problems/hesitation]

Let there be no hindrance on your ways[dhaari – path /way, edinjallu – hindrance]

Let you come up in life with wisdom given by education[paddippu – education, mundhuga – coming forward]Like a pumpkin plant that grows and spreads[kumba kudi – pumpkin plant, haradu – spread]

Let not thorns stop your steps[Aangaal – foot, mullu – thorn, muriyadhay – embed (in the sole)

Let your name and fame spread wide and far and called by all and overflow[korachi – calling, bokki – overflow]

Let your home be filled with children[makka – children, hutti – born]

and let there be many daughters in law[gottu – corner, thumba – full, sosay – daughter in law]

May you look after your dear and near ones[pava paria – near and dear ones]

Earn a great name in this world [hesaru – name, eththi – earn]And  live with PROSPERITY

(sources : My mother (late) Hubbathalai B.Idyammal , Appukodu Lakshmi Ammal, Balasubramaiam’s ‘Paame’, Sivaji Raman’s ‘Badaga Samudhaayam’ and own interaction with  badaga village elders)


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 : bjaypee@gmail.com



125th birth Anniversary of H.B.Ari Gowder

December 4th, 2018 is the 125th birth anniversary of Rao Bahadur Hubbathai Bellie Gowder ARI GOWDER, a great Indian and a great Badaga.

H.B.Ari Gowder 
(4-12-1893 to 27-6-1971)

Rao Bahadur H.B.Ari Gowder, the first Badaga graduate, first Badaga M.L.C & M.L.A for a long time( in the 1920s, 30s and 40s) at the time of British Raj,  had brought many reforms in/to Badaga Community in particular and the other tribals of the Nilgiris in general.

He was the leader of the Badaga community and his words were taken as final. He would preside over the Nakku Betta Badaga gathering at Nattakal near Kotagiri, known in Badaga as “KOOTTU”.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is koottu-at-hubbathalai.jpg

Ari Gowder was honoured by the British Empire on many occassions.

May 15th is Badaga Day and is celebrated as Ari Gowda day.

Ari Gowder’s father Rao Bahadur Bellie Gowder was the engineering contactor responsible for laying the Nilgiri Mountain Railway from Mettupalayam to Ooty (the work was completed in 1908).After his death in 1935, Ari Gowder was the Railway contractor of this sector till his death in 1971.


Ari Gowder lead the Indian contigent (yes, “INDIAN CONTIGENT) to World Scouts Jumboree held in Budapest in Hungary in 1932.

Being a great philanthropist, he had done a lot for the betterment of Badagas and other tribal communities of the Nilgiris. He was instrumental to establish Nilgiri Co-Op Marketting Society (NCMS) at Ooty, to save the small farmers-especially Badagas- from the exploits of middlemen & traders at  vegetable mandis in Mettupalayam. 

He was also the Nilgiris District Board Chairman and the (road) bridge built in 1936 connecting Tamil Nadu and Karnataka states at Kakkanalla, Masinagudi (Guladur) is named as Ari Gowder bridge.

He was the President of NCMS for more than 30 years, till his death and during his time, NCMS was considered as one of the best co-op societies in India. His statue has been erected in the NCMS at Ooty in appreciation of his great work for the society.

Image result for ari gowder

Since he donated the land, the road in front of Mambalam Railway Station in Chennai (Madras) is named after him (known as Ariya Gowder road). 

On this day we bow our heads in reverence and respect to this great Indian and Great Badaga !

Hethe Habba

Hethe Habba

This year, the Hethe Habba will be celebrated on 31 Dec 2018.

To know more about Hethe and Hethe Amma history, click on the pages given above.

You can read  Hethe Amma history here

and download (pdf) here

May Hethe Amma’s blessings be showered on you and your family !

Badaga Origin

Dr. Rajkumar Krishnan (Naihatti), Australia

My heartfelt appreciation for Prof. Hockings and Wg.Cdr.JP for starting this critical discussion on the origin of Badagas.

It is very sad that despite advancement in technology in the last 15-20 years (from world wide web to genetic testing and archaeological technology), we remain where we started nearly 60 years ago trying to find the answer to the question; are badagas indigenous or not to the Nilgiris?

It is time for some serious research from multiple sources like linguistic, gene testing, archeological, historical etc rather than rely on books or papers written without any evidence (from self proclaimed experts writing their own views). I am not sure where funding for this kind of research can be found even if we did manage to find individuals interested in this kind of research.

There are other interesting things that need looking into like; what are the histories for Todas, Kotas andKurumas (as Wg.Cdr. JP has asked)? are their documented histories proven by research or from some self proclaimed experts’ views? How valid is cross reference, collateral history and inference from these works when applied to Badaga origins? Why does Badaga language contain some Telugu words (like gudi – temple,  netturu – blood)? How and where is the Telugu connection and what is it’s significance if any? Are Badaga rites and rituals found elsewhere (in Karnataka or Andhra) or are they unique? If unique then how do you account for a community (only few thousands in number, few hundred years ago, if migration theory is to be accepted) which spoke a dialect without written language, manage to develop its rites and rituals with deep meaning and significance (like ‘Karu harasodu’). The absence of dowry system, acceptance of widow remarriage, mutually acceptable divorce and remarriage are all advanced hallmarks of an Indian community not found in Karnataka or elsewhere. How did a group of migrants (if migration happened) decide to have better ethics and way of life (usually immigrants carry their customs & traditions from their homeland)?

Dr.Rajkumar adds :Thanks for publishing my comments . With ref to Telugu/Kannada words. Interestingly, gudi and netturu are also halaya Kannada words and are rarely used in modern Kannada. Kothi in Telugu is monkey albeit pr as kothionounced

Badagas have their own ‘Hethai’ goddess and festivals and I believe were more nature worshippers (pagans), but in last 40-50 years many Hindu gods have made it into the hatti temples (including some Christianity )? They are now living worldwide and is it in the genes of the Badagas to constantly evolve and change reflecting an immigrant past?

Medically, there is huge incidence of sick sickle disease and other associated haemoglobinopathies amongst Badagas. The flip side to these medical disorders is that it genetically confers resistance against malaria. Now why do the Badagas living in the Nilgiris, where there is no threat of any malaria needs these protective genes? These disorders are primarily found in the Mediterranean and some Indian populations. Does this prove migration theory ? if so when was the migration? or is this part of the diverse Indian gene pool with all its idiosyncrasies and patterns?

Badagas are making significant strides economically as well as educationally in the last 30-40 years. I hope in near future we will all reflect, introspect and realise the need to find the truth about our origin.

I have high regards and respect for Prof. Hockings and his work on Badagas. He himself has stated that he has interviewed about 800 Badagas for his research. I am sure he will also accept that this form of interview and research is not critical scientific evidence. People during these interviews will simply repeat what their forefathers and others have told them. There is certainly no intent to falsify or gain anything but neither is this a confirmation of truth . I can understand that given the lack of any scientific facilities for research, this is the best he can do and I am sure that he has done it in good faith.

There is lot of speculation and assumptions from both indigenous Badaga and non indigenous writers and researchers on Badaga origins.We should not forget the fact that many documented articles and books from the past are mainly written from what these authors have been told and/or what they have inferred from interviews (again done in good faith). It is important that we keep asking more questions until the truth is found.

About Dr.Rajkumar :

 “The Daily Examiner” 14th Mar 2014

GP happy with move to the Clarence



A SENSE of adventure and a better quality of life brought Dr Krishnan Rajkumar to Australia but he had no idea just how easy life in the Valley could be.

“We wanted a change. I wanted to travel with my wife and kids,” he said.

“We thought we would try Australia. We always wanted to visit Down Under.”

Better known as Dr Raj, the newest addition to the Queen Street Clinic said the biggest surprise about moving to the Clarence Valley was that he could find everything he needed in the area.

“It’s all been very lovely. We are starting so see a few places – Maclean and Lawrence are very beautiful places,” he said.

“The children have all their extracurricular activities like dancing, the schools are good, shopping – we have not felt the need that we have to leave every weekend.

“Indian spice shopping-wise, it’s just down the road to Woolgoolga.”

Dr Raj said he was originally from Ooty in the hills of India but studied medicine in Chennai, with postgraduate studies in basic surgery and ear, nose and throat.

He worked in England from 1997 until moving to Australia at the beginning of the year with his wife and two daughters, who are in Years 5 and 9.

Dr Raj said he liked the variety of work involved in general practice.

“You don’t know who is going to walk in with what,” he said.

He said talking to people was the best thing about being a doctor. “That’s another thing with general practice,” he said. “It’s more like a holistic approach. You get to know the whole person.”

Dr Raj has taken on the patients of Dr Bruce Wakefield and said he looked forward to meeting and getting to know all of them.

Badaga Thoreyas

There are a variety of views about Badagas (and their origin) – their classification based on clans is one such.

Unless, a clear and correct picture about Badaga Origin is established, a true picture may not emerge.

The following views are that of one educated Badaga Thoreya who strongly feels that both researchers and others have not given a correct picture about Theoreyas and have always shown them in a degrading terms by not including them with other Badaga clans. – Wg.Cdr.JP

Image result for ravi joghee

Ravikumar Joghee is a Baduga Toreya from Bamudi Ooru (near Nedugula). Son of Prof. R. Joghee, first Badaga principal at Govt Arts, Ooty (before Prof. Kulla Gowder) and JD of collegiate education before he retired. He is a Co-Founder of a tech start up based at Bangalore. His ancestral roots are from Ebbanad (and Kengamudi due to minority marginalisation).

Bamudi Ooru is surrounded by many clans of Badugas in hatties like Kottanalli (Haruvas), Sundatti (majority clan), Nedugula (wodeayru and mixed clan), Selakorai (Badaga majority clan), etc. Bamudi has patronised with lands to build Kottanalli and Sundatti. I am surprised to see new historical facts like we are indigeneous, etc which I feel is against our roots. Every Ooru has our Devva habba traditions which invoke our ancestors and roots. Educated jobless youngsters are taking the community for a ride in the name of history. We are clear our ancestors are from Old mysore regions—Tagadur, Thayur, Ummaturu, etc which is similar to Jakkatha as per Paame book. Irony is other clans near our ooru whom we have patronised with lands to settle  are indigenous against our roots of old mysore roots.

As I belong to Badaga Toreya clan of Badagas, it is my duty/fundamental right to defend/raise voice in order to safe guard our clan and badagas at large. We feel we all are one and take liberty if any one portrays th other in poor light in  public domain. Hope you understand. We wanted the majority clans to support us in our endeavour to solve the common challenges we face in the region collectively. Social media is a powerful tool. I am seeing lot of youngsters writing at will, probably misguided by few elders, which needs to contain. I also wrote to Prof. Paul Hockings on the some of the factual errors in his book. I think he has made his research study based on the majority clan facts and ignored the minority ones like us. One Lakshmanan of Ketti was the major source of information for Hockings research.

Here is the Baduga majority clan and Baduga Toreya clan story as prevalent in Todhanadu Seemey. We have not publicised this story as we carry a good relation with Todas::::

நமது படுக தொரய பாட்டனாரும் பெரும்பான்மை பிரிவு படுக பாட்டனாரும் அண்ணன் தம்பி என்பதாகவும் ஒருநாள் சூழ்நிலை காரணமாக தொதவா வீட்டில் தங்க நேர்ந்ததாகவும் அது சமயம் தொதுவன் தயிர் கடையும்போது அதில் (non vegetarian ……….) சேர்த்து கடைவதை தம்பியாகிய நமது பாட்டனார் பார்த்துவிட்டு மறுநாள் தொதவன் அந்த கடைந்த தயிரை நமக்கு குடிக்க கொடுத்து விடுவார் என்று பயந்து அண்ணனாகிய பெரும்பான்மை படுகு பிரிவு பாட்டனார் தூங்கிக் கொண்டிருக்கும் போது எழுந்து ஓடியதாகவும் மறைந்து ஓடியதால் தொரைத்தாரி ஓடின தொரைய என்று நமது படுக தொரய பாட்டனாரை குறிப்பிட்டதாகவும் கூறப்படுகிறது உண்மையில் பெரும்பான்மை படுகரும் நாமும் அண்ணன் தம்பி என்பது தெரிகிறது.

No doubt there are issues on supremacy among Badaga clans not just with us but with Haruva, Adhikari, etc. However, few of the minority clans have merged with the majority and has solved some of the issues on the identity.

At Bamudi Ooru, our ancestors had  erected Bukka structure ( I assume you are aware of the Bukka structure significance in an Ooru) which confirms  we are an ancient ooru and also at Nedugula which is close by to our village. We had invited Kotanalli (Badaga Haruva) people from Talamalai area to set up their village  to perform pooja at our  Mahalinga Swami Gudi (Bana Gudi). Kotanalli land records indicate that their hatti was built by the land given by Bamudi ayyas, about 32 acres which they acknowledge. Sundatti village (Thanthanadu lineage)  also came into existence after Bamudi and Kotanalli.

Interestinly, Bamudi Ooru had built a ‘Halamala somi’ temple (original temple is in Talaimalai forest, pooja performed by Kurumbas) which was later taken over by Sundatti after a long dispute. Overall, there are 5 Bukkahatties in the Porangadu region and shared Bukka in other regions.

Interestingly, there were few inter clan marriages in those days between Kotanalli (Badaga Haruva) and Bamudi (Badaaga Toreya). Similary between Kapatti and Kannerimukku. Also Jackanarai and Sakkatha, Kengarai and Kairbetta, Doddamanehatti and Kannerimukku. These are to my knowledge as of now. We are trying to gather information from other regions. We have not had any marriage relations due to historical differences. We have given woman in marriage to other clan and not vice versa.

Regarding MBC status, it was a mistake committed by our elders. I feel frustration due to continued isolation by other Badaga clans had forced them to do so. Our clan (Thoreya) youngsters are fighting it out to bring the status on par with other Badaga clans. Some of the youngsters in our clan have realised that MBC status has created further split among the clans which we realise and working to correct it.

Regarding ‘servant’ (Aevil Thoreya) status, I have not come across these impressions ‘with facts’  in all our 43 villages. There have been disputes and being a minority, it is quite natural for a majority clan to suppress the minority. Others minority clans too had revolted in the past but our clan seems to have preferred to be quiet and keep away. In my investigation with almost all hatties, I have never heard of any ‘servant’ status. Probably, due to our poor economic status, some of the people may have worked with a majority land lord and it does not mean a ‘status for all’

At Ebbanad, where my family ancestors hail from, they have their ancestral roots at Kadanad. We are just 4 houses among 250 houses of the larger clan but we have been treated with utmost respect. We have been reciprocating it from time immemorial. We continue to lead the poojas at Annikal temple, Jedayasomi temples, Devva Habba etc. Also you may be aware that at Kadanad, both of our clans have adjacent Devva Mane though the minority clan has just 2 families at present among the balance 200 families of the majority clan.

In the recent Devva Habba at Ebbanad, it was interesting to know that our ancestral prayers refer to ‘Thale Tagaduru’ and common Hethappa between our clans though we have different Devvu Mane (Dodda Mane) among us. Badaga Toreya leads the pooja, Badaga Haruva performs the pooja and majority Badaga clan carries out the pooja further. I think we all co-exist in a harmonious manner.

We have started documenting some of the real historical facts and shall release it as soon as it is completed. Meanwhile, we can interact and also invite you to Ebbanadu and Bamudi Oorus where I am connected to take note of yourself the traditions, customs, etc which are no different or as good as other Badaga clans. To me, all our customs and traditions are no different. Issues like economy, religious conversions, attitude, agriculture, etc are all the same which we are struggling to solve.

I strongly believe we have only oral history with us and we can just write books and web sites based on the oral facts only.



Prof.Paul Hockings

Dear JP,
    I have been meaning for some time to send you something  that has been troubling me. While it is a great improvement in things that we now have Badagas publishing books about their culture, most of these books seem not to be based on well-established scholarship on South India, but rather personal impressions. Contrary to what Trump might say, in the long run you can’t have alternate histories of a people, some of which are based on critical research and others of which are not. The critical research is what will last while at the same time being modified by further research.
    Anyway, it would be nice if you can publish what I have written, in the hope that some rather more critical discussion will take place. I have interviewed some 700-800 Badagas (which I don’t think anyone else has done) and I have tried in my books to distill the essence of their thoughts while acknowledging that there are always differences of opinion depending on what part of a society you are located in.  – Paul

The ubiquity of the internet these days, and of Badagas who are perfectly capable of using it, has allowed for a lot more discussion about Badaga matters than used to be the case. And the proliferation of books about the Badagas over the past half-century, when there had been virtually none before that, has given plenty of people food for thought. This is all to the good, of course, and contrasts greatly with the earlier situation. But I would like to point out that some serious yet pervasive misconceptions have arisen in recent years that should be addressed.
The first one to mention, because it is perhaps the oldest, is that it was “western scholars” who decided that the Badagas of the Nilgiris came there from southern Mysore several centuries ago, and that those same scholars decided this because the name of the people means “northerner”. Since I am one of those scholars let me make several point in response.

First of all, from the 1820s onwards, the only writers who showed the slightest interest in Badagas were Westerners. Badagas themselves were certainly unconcerned, no doubt thinking that without literacy they could not have had history. I can mention only two exceptions to this statement. Pandit S.M. Natesa Sastri was a noted Brahmin folklorist (1859-1906) who was reputed to speak 18 languages, Badaga being one of them. Of course, one could not make a decent living being a folklorist in the 19th century, and so Natesa Sastri was employed as a warden in the Ootacamund jail. This gave him ample opportunity to question its Badaga inmates, of whom there apparently were several dozen. As a result of these investigations he published several articles in the Madras Christian College Magazine that are full of valuable and highly accurate information, including verbatim prayers and other samples of the Badaga language. It is of course a great regret that he never made his findings more accessible. The other exception to my statement about Western scholars was a Badaga, M.K. Belli Gowder of Accanakal (Achchanekallu), who early in the 20th century collected a great deal of factual information about the folklore; but he kept it all in notebooks and published almost nothing except for several letters in the South of India Observer. These two writers aside, Indians have shown no interest in Badaga culture until quite recently.

The second point I need to emphasize is that Western scholars never made up their identification of the Badaga homeland in southern Mysore: THIS WAS WHAT TRUSTED BADAGA ELDERS TOLD THEM. In my own research I was told by numerous elders, from 1962 onwards (in other words, by people born around 1900 or just before), that the names of some of the ancestral villages were still known; and they dictated to me Accalli, Agasvadi, Belladi, Gundulupete, Hasanuru, Honnahalli, Jakkalli, Kakkadur-Karahalli, Kavaspadi, Kongahalli, Sulur, and Urigaddige. All of these places (except Hasanuru) lie within a very restricted area not far from Nanjurugudi, a pilgrimage centre which Badaga informants regularly visited because, even in the 19th century, they claimed it was their ancestral home. None of the above sentences were made up by me: I am simply reporting what reliable elderly informants told me half a century ago. Why would I falsify this matter, and why would they lie about it? Ever since the 1820s Europeans have occasionally been asking Badagas where their ancestors had come from, and always got answers along these lines. Even Father Fenicio, visiting Kunda in 1603, met Badagas who told him they lived in three villages and had come from the plains to the north.

Another point of contention arises over the very name “Badaga”. We are all agreed it is a Kannada word originally, and means “northerner” or “from/in the north”. But this apparently has led one modern Badaga writer into real confusion. I have not read his book because my Tamil is pretty hopeless these days, but Sivaji Raman’s book Badaga Samudayam, as reported in this website, seems to make wild and totally unsubstantiated claims about how “Badaga language finds extensive mention in old – purana – Tamil literature like Tholkappiam”. This is nonsense because, first, the language of the Nilgiri Badagas did not have any separate existence from Kannada until several centuries ago; and secondly, the “Badaga” referred to here were people who, from a Karnataka perspective, were indeed “northerners” but were people who we know spoke Telugu! In short, they had nothing at all to do with the Nilgiri peoples, as they were living in what we now know as Andhra. The Tolkappiyam dated to around the 3rd century AD, a time before anything is known about any Nilgiri peoples, and some 1400 years before Badaga became established as a Nilgiri language. That great Tamil work was in fact referring to the early Telugu language. For scholars of Dravidian literature this fact about “Badagas” has been common knowledge since at least the 19th century, so it is sad to find people who are not really familiar with Indian philology still making this baseless claim about mention in the Puranas in the 21st century.

There have been a few Badagas who in recent years have claimed a great antiquity for the Badaga occupance of the Nilgiris. One person recently wrote on a website that the Badagas had been on these hills for “8000 years”. Not only is this totally preposterous, as we know nothing about the names or locations of ethnic groups anywhere in India prior to the adoption of writing, least of all on the Nilgiris; but such ludicrous claims just serve to make Badaga history laughable to any serious scholars of South India. There were Mesolithic cultures in parts of India 8000 years ago, but even if archaeologists eventually demonstrate presence of humans here on the Nilgiris even 1000 or 2000 years ago, there would still be no evidence that the people involved were Badagas in any sense. In fact, the earliest Nilgiri occupants were probably Kurumbas, because (a) there are some Badaga hattis with Kurumba placenames, as the Kurumbas had already left, and (b) Kurumba magic seems to be identical with Buddhist magic, which otherwise disappeared from South India around 1000 years ago, along with Buddhism and Jainism generally.

I don’t doubt that IF evidence were to show a greater antiquity for the Badaga occupance of these hills it might bolster some current political arguments. But the fact remains that there is a great deal of evidence for the Badagas having arrived 4-5 centuries ago and virtually none for any earlier arrival. The relevant evidence has been examined closely by a number of anthropologists and historians over the years, so it is not just a matter of one man’s “opinion”. Indeed, old Toda and Kota folktales don’t even mention the presence of Badagas. I need hardly add that creating imagined or false histories of the Badagas that are not based on a scrutiny of all available facts will be an irreparable disservice to future generations, who are likely to ask more searching questions about their ancestry.

Though I may not agree with some of the views, specially on the origin of Badagas, of Prof. Paul Hockings, there is no denying the fact that he has spent considerable amount of time and efforts in his research on and of Badagas and brought them out in his books. Also, there is no denying the fact that some Badagas had migrated from the plains of Mysore about four/five ceneturies ago.

Can it be that Badagas existed  in a very few hattis in the Nilgiris for a long, long time much before this migration, a view I strongly believe in?

Rao Bahadur Hubbathalai Bellie Gowder, (he could speak eleven languages),  a contractor (he was called Bellie Maistry) who was instrumental in laying the mountain railways from Mettypalayam to Ooty, presented a memorandum, listing Badagas as one of the original tribes of the blue mountains (The Nilgiris) along with Thodas, Kothas, Kurumas and Irulas, to the Governor of Madras in 1923 who visited Hubbathai hatti on his personal invitation. I have some of the photos taken on that occassion.

Is it correct that Thodas and Kothas have not mentioned Badagas in their folktales ? What exactly is the origin of these two tribes?

Do Thoreyas and Odeyas really consider themselves as Badagas? Are their traditions, rituals , customs and culture, specially marriage and funeral rites same as other Badaga groups (which have mingled so much that you cannot distinguish a Gowda from a Haruva, Adhikari or Kannakka)? In one of the funerals at Sakkalatti, I noticed some changes that are different from other ‘main stream’ hattis. Incidentally, I was told that, in the Kattery group of hattis (Lingyats/Lingakuttis) have decided to accept Basavanna as superior to Shiva. Marriages with Mysore brahmins(non Badagas) is still common in these hattis.

Unless we, Badagas, undertake extensive research to an alternative Prof.Paul Hockings’s views with scientific proof, our contention will remain as personal impressions, as he says.

Critical discussions are most welcome.

Wing Commander Bellie Jayaprakash


Badaga Population

What is the Size of the Badaga Population?


Prof.Paul Hockings

A quick Internet search suggests there is no authoritative figure for the total of Badaga speakers — and language is the best indicator in earlier censuses as to who was a Badaga and who was not, since virtually no one spoke that language unless they were Badagas in culture too. What one does find in the Internet today is some people claiming there are 135,000 and some claiming 400,000 Badagas. Claims for an unusually large Badaga population might be useful in making certain political arguments, but they appear not to be based on any facts. I would like to speak about the issues that lie behind this discrepancy, however, without entering into political topics.

Very early counts of Badagas were probably not so far from the truth. Thus B.S. Ward’s count of 3,778 Badagas in 1821 might have been a slight undercount, but even if they were under-enumerated by 10% (a pure guess on my part) the real figure would still be little more than 4,000. Slowly improving diet and public health over the 19th century in the Nilgiris District could therefore reasonably lead to the figure of 19,476 in the “official” census of 1871, half a century after Ward’s count (which was done for the administration of Coimbatore District).

Moving on a whole century to the censuses of independent India, we find in 1971 a count of 104,392 Badaga speakers. But after this things seem to go awry, because we get no official figure in the 1981 census. So far as I know this was a result of a political decision at some high level: to treat the Badaga language as a dialect of Kannada, and so to lump all the Badagas in with all the Kannada speakers who lived in this District. This gave quite a large figure, but no indication as to how much of it was to be accounted for by Badaga speakers.

After two books were published by Christiane Pilot-Raichoor (who sadly passed away earlier this month), working in collaboration with me — namely “Counsel from the Ancients” (1988) and “A Badaga-English Dictionary” (1992) — I think it came to be accepted that Badaga is a separate language rather than a dialect of Kannada.

A dictionary documenting the language of the Badaga community of the Nilgiri Hills in Southern India, based on linguistic data recorded throughout the period from 1963 to 1990, and designed with the requirements of the non-native English speaker in mind. For such users, first, the method of transcription of Badaga words is phonetic, and bears no reference to either English or Tamil ways of transcribing the language. Secondly, several English words are commonly listed together as translations of one Badaga lexeme

By 1991 we get a census total of 134,187 Badaga speakers. This is obviously not out of line with the 1971 figure (above). Accepting these census figures as accurate, the population had increased by 55% over the period 1951-1971, and by 28.5% over the next 20 years, 1971-1991.

What we see here is a not-unexpected drop-off in the rate of population growth. I say it was not unexpected (at least to me) for these reasons:
As spelled out in my book “Kindreds of the Earth” (Hockings, 1999), Badaga women in their fertile years began to adopt family planning from 1975 onwards, whereas before that date there was strong opposition within the Badaga commuity to that practice even though many people already knew about it. So from 1981 onwards one would expect the reduction in the rate of population increase that the censuses document, and a reduction in average family size.
In 1971 very few Badagas were living outside the Nilgiris District; for the most part, just a few hundred students at South Indian colleges. So the enumeration up to that census was an accurate reflection of the District’s Badaga population.

Front CoverThis book focuses on the household of the Badagas, a community that lives in the Nilgiri Hills in southern India. Paul Hockings reports his unique longitudinal study of this community, covering 27 years of measurement and sociocultural change in four sample villages, where he conducted censuses every nine years. Combining his knowledge of anthropology, demography, and linguistics, the author focuses primarily on demographic transition and social change over time. He also studies kinship, marriage, household structure, and various aspects of Badaga contemporary life, including the influence of the mass media

But in the half-century since then we have seen more and more Badaga families settling in large Indian cities elsewhere, as well as in North America, Europe and Australia, largely as a result of the scintillating opportunities to be found within the information technology industry. The fact that today a visit to almost any Badaga village shows a large number of homes either locked up or rented out to non-Badagas is a reflection of the new situation. The continuing low price for tea, together with high levels of education, jointly brought about this situation.

Badaga Christians may number today about 4,500, but it is difficult to be precise about their number. While nearly all Badaga Hindus still choose another Badaga for their marriage partner, according to custom, and speak Badaga, there is not such a strong tendency among the Christians, who quite often marry someone who is a Christian from elsewhere in South India. This means that such families may not have been enumerated in recent censuses as Badaga speakers if they were mainly speaking Tamil or some other language.

One must conclude therefore that if the census enumerated 134,514 in 2001 — an increase of only 0.0025% over the 1991 figure — any claim of a total of 400,000 is altogether baseless. It would require an increase in the rate of population growth that has not been seen in modern times even in the most explosive parts of Africa: an increase of something like 300% during the present century!
My very detailed study of four central Nilgiri villages over a 27-year period, spelled out in the 1999 book “Kindreds of the Earth” referred to above, found an overall “increase”, in families where the woman had completed her fertile years, of only 1.6 children per couple — hardly enough to maintain the population at its current level towards the end of the last century. This meticulous calculation, based on sixteen village-level censuses, was in fact borne out precisely by the 0.0025% rate of increase mentioned above.

Reduction of family size to where a couple has only one or two children is characteristic of modernization, as it allows the parents to concentrate their resources better on the care and education of the children do have. When I completed the 1999 study the rate in Japan was also 1.6 children per older couple, exactly the same as I found in the central Nilgiris.