Books on Badagas

Dr.Haldorai, a Badaga who has authored many books on Badaga

In our eagerness to know about ourselves [Badagas], many times, we highlight the work done by other researchers from abroad and tend to forget our own Badaga scholars who have done a lot on EVERY THING BADAGA.

One such scholar is Dr.Haldorai from Kiya Cowhatty. Though I have heard about him, I could not get to read any one of his books [there are many in English and Tamil] till recently. Saravana Raju of Karimora, a gifted and talented youngster with great many original ideas,got me many of his books.

Though I have had a cursory glance at his books, I am yet to make a detailed study. But one thing I am sure about. We may or may not  agree with all his views and interpretations but definitely, cannot ignore them.

He has been kind enough to respond to my emails and sent me a few exclusive articles and I have great pleasure in putting them up [uncensored] in this page. Yes, I feel he deserves a page for himself.

I will be adding more info in future.

Take a look.

Dr.R.K.HALDORAI M.O.L., M.Ed., M.A., Ph.D,

Work done on Badaga :

# Ph.D.  in comparative linguistics (Badaga-Tamil Linguistic study)
# Editor   :  mandada maattu,a quarterly magazine, twenty three issues published (1991-1997), on behalf of Badagar Welfare Association, Chennai
# Introduced modified Tamil Letters to Badaga, conducted classes to students and others.

Books Published on Badaga 

Eleven (7 in Tamil, 4 in English)

1. badagu oru diravida moli* (Badaga a Dravidian Language) (Tamil,pages 225 )2006
2. badagumolip palamoligal(Badaga Proverbs)  (Tamil and English meanings pages185)2003
3. hethe deyvam ( Mother goddess of the Badagas ) (Tamil,pages 229)2004
4. badagar teer tirupatti (Badaga Funerals) (Tamil,pages 220)2007
5. Goddess Hethe of the Nilgiri Badagas (English,pages 135)2005
6. badagar  tirumanam  (Badaga Marriage) (Tamil,pages 36)2006
7. Marriage among the Nilgiri Badagas (English, pages 38)2006
8. badagar  aruvadait  tirunaal* (Harvest Festival of Badagas (Tamil, pages 224)2008
9. Badaga –English  Self  Instructor (English,pages 40)2009
10. badagar samaya nambikkai (Religious Beliefs of Badagas) (Tamil,pages 208),2009
11. A Practical Key to the Badaga Language ( English,pages 154)2011

*Two Books on Badaga were awarded T.N.Govt. Best Book Prizes

Participated :

Mother tongue day celebrations of Commissioner Linguistic Minorities,New Delhi, thrice representing Badaga

English articles:

1.Tribal status of the Badagas
2. Vitality of the Badaga Language
3. bugiri (pastoral pipe of the Badagas)
4. devva habba ( harvest festival of the Badagas)
5. akka bakka  ( the relic of the Badaga main villages)
6. All papers presented at Dravidian Linguists Association Annual

Seminars were on Badaga

Papers presented at the annual seminars of the Dravidian Linguists Association

1. Particles of comparison in Badaga, 2003
2. p-> h- change in Badaga ,2004
3. The Verbs taa-, kodu-, ii-, in Badaga, 2005
4. The Demonstrative Epicene plural pronouns of the Badaga Language ,2006
5. The Instrumental case in Badaga ,2007
6. The personal plural pronouns of the Badaga Language, 2008
7. Personal singular pronoun in the Badaga Language, 2009
8. Progressive Aspect in Badaga, 2010
9. Demonstrative and Interrogative Pronouns of Badaga, 2011
10. Compound Nouns in Badaga, 2012

Other seminar papers

1.  Presented more than thirty research papers on Tamil and Linguistics
2.  Participated World Classical Tamil conference, Coimbatore 2010.


1. Founder member  : Nelikolu Charitable Trust, Kekkatty, Ellanalli P.O., The Nilgiris ;
which was formed to document the Badaga(language, culture etc.,)
2. Life member          :  Dravidian Linguists Association, Tiruvanantapuram
3. Life member          :  Tamil Sangam, Bangaluru
4. Life member          :  Periyaar vaasagar vattam, Chennai
5. Member               :  Indian University Tamil Teacher’s Association

Present Engagement :

1. A Book on Badaga culture (in Tamil) is in print
2. Compiling a Badaga – Tamil Comprehensive Dictionary

Future Plan  :

1.Prescribe text books in Badaga at least to elementary classes
2. Conduct workshops at Nilgiris to popularise Badaga letters
3. Document the remaining Badaga folk – literature etc.,


Articles by Dr.Haldorai

[I find that Dr.Haldorai referring to many Badaga words as having its origin in Tamil.I am not too sure. Is his background as a Tamil scholar – playing a role here?- Wg.Cdr. JP]


The institution of akka bakka is about thirty nine and above main villages of the Badagas, and essentially a patri local cult – seat. akka bakka structure consist of three components viz. hebbAyilu, karukambu and ajjugUDu. The hebbAyilu consists of two upright stone pillars with a connecting beam on top. In olden days this structure was erected with wooden posts. HebbAyilu means big or main enterance and it is enterance for not only akkabakka but to a particular village as well. Once as a rule village houses were built behind this structure. karukambu is an upright wooden post measuring about three feet and it represents Badagas earlier occupations. The third one is ajju gudu, sometimes it is called ajjigUDu, a dwelling place about three feet high constructed with stone slabs

akka bakka is basically head quarter of a clan and it is governed by rules of exogamy. At present it acts as a ritual place or ceremonial yard. Only a village having akka bakka is the head or main village of Badagas and called as uur(village). Besides this devvamane (ancestral house)  is also important feature of Ur. Each such main village has ten or fifteen (even more) hamlets called haTTys. At the same time in exception cases even a single village may have the status of Ur and has akka bakka. The annual harvest festival, devvahabba celebration starts at this place. During other occasions such as he the festival too akka bakka gets special attention. Badagas are dependent upon agriculture. Men and women are nearly equal participants in agricultural pursuits. Hence agriculture gets the central place in the economic activity of the Badagas and their festivals are centring around this. From the beginning economy of Badagas has been found to be mixed one and their stage does not provide for any specialization of function. They followed variety of occupations to eke out of their subsistence. Honey gathering, hunting, rearing of buffaloes, shifting cultivation are the prominent. However agricultural and pastoral activities surpassed all.

The term akka is a corrupt form of Tamil akkam, which means grain and bakka means wide open place or esplanade. Hence the compound word akka bakka expresses the meaning of a place where grains pooled after harvest. Once Badagas were barley and millet cultivators and mostly they had done on a common venture. During that part of time akka bakka got special attention. At present they abandoned millet cultivation all together. However to mark their tradition few ears of barley are placed during harvest festival. However akka bakka became relic and worshiped.




              Bugiri (pastoral pipe), which holds an unique place in Badaga music is at once one of the sweetest and most revered instrument to play. Its tones faithfully follow the human voice. Thus, since the vocal art is given pride of place in Badaga music, The bugiri requires extreme dedication and endurance from an aspirant. When they hold the bugiri close to the lips, and this transforms the pain in their finger in to soul stirring music.

The body of the bugiri is made out of a single block of bamboo with six holes. The  bugiri, whose name is said to derive from the ancient Tamil word vayir, which means bamboo, trumpet. In Tamil professional musicians were called vayiriyar or vayiriya maakkaL  and it was attested in sangam literature. bugiri used mostly as a solo instrument is Badaga music. At the same time, especially during worship few musicians play with their instruments together. The music represents the theme of rural life, especially pastoral life.

Unlike other instrument, bugiri is not taught in institutions, but remains within families. Although people from outside the family circle also learn, a large majority of bugiri exponents hail from family traditions. There is no woman player of bugiri. They are even forbidden from touching.

bugiri is a kind of bamboo flute used invariably in worship. Formerly each Badaga house had a bugiri and most of the males especially elders used to play this instrument. People used to play bugiri for hours together. This instrument is considered as sacred and is preserved with religious care. The bugiri player should observe certain cleanliness. It is preserved by applying butter. Its music is very impressive and enchanting and it is more or less like a conch sounded musically with soulful and enchanting modulation of tone. bugiri music was used to console persons who are ill. It was sounded in funerals by relatives to express their mourning. Above all the bugiri music is considered as spiritual.  Many elders regret to lack of interest among youth to pursue this tradition.

In the quite of the early morning or night hours their music is carried by the cool weather that resides through the green plateau. An unusual feeling of peace settles over the listeners. Normally bugiri players love to sing. But their forte is making the bugiri instrument synonymous with song. The bugiri music has the tradition richness of the melodious songs.

Note: This instruments is played by other tribes of the Nilgiri origin too. Mostly these instrument makers are Kasabas of the Nilgiris.

See another article on Bugiri from


by IR Loganathan, Ithalar
[from Silver Jubilee Souvenir 1993 of Badaga Welfare Association, Madras]
Bugiri is one of the musical instruments of our ancestors. This looks like a long flute. There are a couple of small side branches at the knots of this bamboo instrument. There are six holes in this. It is learnt that this instrument was kept in all the Badaga houses in earlier days. It is also said that all the elders had the capacity to play this instrument in those days. This was played near the patients/suffering so as to make them go off to sleep forgetting their pain. During funerals, the relatives of the deceased played this to vent their sorrow.
It is difficult to exactly say the type of music/sound the bugiri produced. Still, it may be like the sound of a big fire, or the sound produced when things are rubbed systematically, or like the sound of a spinning top or like that of a constant ’sangu’ being blown. There are high and low notes produced by this instrument which can kindle deep feelings as well as to make one get thoroughly engrossed.


In linguistics, the stress is on the spoken form of language. The written form is considered the natural progression to it and seen as a record of the spoken version.

In mother tongue learning situation, children are given time to learn the mother tongue at their own pace. Due to this they are likely to start loving it.

There are many tribal languages in India. In Nilgiri district of Tamil Nadu alone more than ten tribal languages are spoken and one among them is Badaga. Badagas have separate villages of their own. The Badagas who are living outside identify these villages as their natives. There are over three hundred and fifty Badaga villages. It is to be noted here almost all the Badaga village names are Badaga origin. In the same way exclusively Badagas are living in these villages.

All the villages of Badaga community have a primary school (1-5) or a middle school (6-8). High schools and higher secondary schools are found in the circle headquarters. Most of these schools are government Tamil medium schools. In the present scenario most of the children of young age go to school. Since there is a primary school in every village almost everyone attend up to 5th standard. These primary schools often had teachers from their own village or nearby villages. These teachers too sometime communicate with students in mother tongue, Badaga. In primary school the students are mostly from the same village. However mostly they communicate with fellow students in mother tongue, Badaga. Therefore a student who has been only to a primary school (1-5) has very less or short possibility of being exposed to Tamil language.

Of late many students are attending English medium schools. Even though these students are taught English at school they communicate with fellow students either in Tamil or in their mother tongue, Badaga.

Almost all are using their mother tongue at home with parents, children and siblings. Most of the people use their mother tongue at their villages. Almost all people use Tamil with outsiders. It is important to mention here that the Badaga community has to use mother tongue, Badaga instead of Tamil to communicate with the people of Nilgiri origin such as Todas, Kotas, Kurumas, Kasabas, and Irulas. This is due to the sequel of Badaga language’s lingua franca status of this district.

While speaking to neighbours and village-head all prefer mother tongue. Who did not have any schooling prefer to use mother tongue in almost all the situations with the tribes of the same community. Among uneducated people, especially uneducated women use of mother tongue is so strong. Majority of the people use their own mother tongue with the people from their own tribe in the market. With those from other tribes of the Nilgiri they use Badaga and with others Tamil. The market domain necessitated the use of Tamil.

Non-Badaga teachers of local schools use Tamil with their students. In the same way students use Tamil either their non-Badaga teachers. Some local teachers, especially of high school and higher secondary school teachers prefer Tamil with the students of Badaga community. It is evident that the Tamil medium of education had contributed in promoting Tamil bilingualism among the youngsters. However the Badagas are bilinguals and most of them are capable of using Tamil.

Majority of the Badagas use their own mother tongue for personal prayer. The temple priests too use mother tongue while doing poojas. Badagas sing Tamil and other language devotional songs in addition to Badaga songs during weekly poojas and festival occasions. Any how the prayer and priests blessing words are always in Badaga. In festival occasions and common gatherings mother tongue domination is there.

With fellow workers of the same tribe, all of them use the mother tongue. However in communication with fellow workers of other, majority of them use Tamil. In government offices there is a slightly increased use of Tamil because there are government officials who are Tamil speakers. Where there are government officials of Badaga speakers the use of Badaga language with fellow Badaga is there.

In relation to business like marketing, majority of the Badagas feel that the Tamil is more useful. Youngsters feel the need to come up to the level of the mainstream society in education and employment and in that respect they feel the need to be fluent in using Tamil and English. The students who studied Tamil medium schools say that English was harsh and comment so because English was difficult for them to learn.

Most of them watch T.V programme of Tamil. In the same way they prefer to have books in Tamil. Some prefer English books. This is due to, there is no books available in Badaga language and next is, due to the fact that they were educated in Tamil/ English medium.

The present day medium of education and influence of the modern media had substantially contributed for the increase of Tamil bilinguals, among the youngsters.

The Badaga community has a positive attitude towards their mother tongue and use it in their home and village domains and in other social contexts with people belonging to their own tribe. And also people of this community use their mother tongue with the tribes of the Nilgiri district. Tamil is used in most of the social contexts with those who are from outsiders to Nilgiri district.

This assessment shows that Badaga language has the vitality to continue to be spoken by succeeding generations. Even though their language use is broader and their attitude towards their mother tongue is so strong, the importance of the mother tongue is little known to them. Hence need of the hour is to make them understand the importance of the mother tongue. In that way, it is important to make them understand the heritage of their language and culture.


‘Paamé’ – a book by B.Balasubramaniam

“ Paamé ” – The history and culture of the Badagas of the Nilgiris by B.Balasubramaniam, encompasses a comprehensive history of the Badaga Community and showcases to the world the unique aspects of Badaga history and culture and is a treasure trove in ethnology.

At last we have an authentic book on the Badagas of the Nilgiri Mountains in south India by Jagathala Bella Gowder BALASUBRAMANIAM, an engineer by profession who has authored many books on management. Known among friends as Bala, is the second son of another great Badaga Mr.Bella Gowder whose knowledge on and of Badagas is legendary. Bella Gowder is 92 years young and is fit as a fiddle. See this page to know about this informed elder

Bala with his wife Gayathri

Bala with his wife Gayathri, great grand daughter of Rao Bahadur HJ Bellie Gowder. The cover design of this book is based on her oil painting of ‘an elderly Badaga man dressed in traditional attire, telling stories to two boys around a fire‘- Ayya paame haygudhuna, kichu gaadhundu kunave kethra

Bala, who is known to me for the past many decades, told me in an exclusive chat that it took him two and a half years of research and labour to produce this book ‘Paame’ which he wanted to be as authentic as possible as far as the origin and history of the Badagas are concerned. Though, for practical purposes, he had to restrict the number of pages, he has material for another hundred pages which he may incorporate in the future editions.

This book is published by Elkon Animations, Bangalore and is priced at Rs.295/- Incidentally, Elkon Animations is owned by another talented and great Badaga Engineer and my friend Yedapally Raju who, by the way, is a good friend of Infosys Narayanamurthy .

You may buy this book from leading book stores located in M.G.Road, Bangalore or from the Publishers at Elkon Animations, 11 First Cross, Bhuvaneshwari Nagar, CV Raman Nagar, Bangalore – 560093.

It is available at Higginbothams Ooty,Chennai and Coimbatore and also at Oxford book house, Coimbatore.

I have gone through the book a couple of times and can with confidence that this book will make every Badaga very proud to belong to this great and unique community.

My only crib is that the book could have had more pictures

‘Paame’is a promising book.The amount of hard work – research – is visible right through. Bala makes his intention of writing this book right in the beginning in the ‘Preface’ “This book is primarily intended to showcase to the world the history of this small, well-knit(Badaga)community, that till half a century ago was only residing in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamilnadu.At the start of the 20th Century, a few leaders of the community with the immense foresight saw the future of the community prospering only by imparting formal education to their youth”


‘படுக சமுதாயம் [Badaga Samudhayam]’ –by  SIVAJI RAMAN

Badaga Community

During the present visit to the Nilgiris (Jan,2010) I came across another book on Badaga byJakkanaarai SIVAJI RAMAN. The book is in Tamil and titled ‘படுக சமுதாயம் [Badaga Samudhayam]‘ – Badaga Community. It appears to be a private publication with a forward by Rev.Malli (Originally of Kerbetta Village).

One of the most interesting information Sivaji Raman conveys in his book is that Badaga language finds extensive mention in old – purana – Tamil literature like  ” Tholkaeppiam” where it is  clearly mentioned that Badaga was a separate language spoken in a northernnation to Tamil nadu called ‘VADAGAM [Badaga]‘, the other ‘countries’ being Karnadagam [Kannada], Konganam [Konkani], Kudagam [Coorgi], Thuluvam [Thulu], Telingam [Telugu] and  Kalingam [Oriya]. He goes on to quote a few verses where ‘vadaga’ is mentioned. He is of the opinion that Badaga can be traced back to 2300 years.

Sivaji Raman laments :
‘ படுக மொழி தற்பொழுது படிப்பு, தொழில் ஆகியவற்றில் தமிழ் மற்றும் ஆங்கில்லத்தின் தாக்கம் காரணமாக மிகவும் மாறுபட்டு பேசப்படுகிறது. தூய படுகு தெரிந்தவர்களே இல்லை என்றாகிவிட்டது. இது படுக மொழியில் சொல் பஞ்ச்சத்தால் ஏற்பட்டதன்று. படுக மொழியின் ஏராளமான சொற்கள் மறக்கப்பட்டு மறைந்து விட்டன. இதற்கு காரணம் படுகு மொழிக்கு வரிவடிவம் இல்லாததேயாகும் ‘  ( Badaga is spoken very differently due to the influence  by Tamil and English on education and profession. It appears that there are none who know ‘PURE’ Badaga. This is not due to lack of words in Badaga. Lot of Badaga words have been forgotten [due to the influence of Tamil and English] and hence become extinct. The reason for this is that BADAGA language DOES NOT HAVE A SCRIPT).

I totally agree with him.

There is a lot of information on Badaga Habbas like ‘Dhodda Habba, Biththu Ikkuva Habba, Uppu Attuva Habba, Sakkalaaththi’ etc apart from a variety of topics on and of Badaga.

Another laudable effort by a Badaga on Badaga.

Very interesting book. Hope to write more on this book soon.

I had mentioned about Jakkanare Sivaji Raman’s book on Badaga Community called ‘Badaga Samudhaayam’.Sivaji Raman No price is mentioned for this book but you may get it in Kotagiri.
There are a lot of interesting nuggets of new information that many of us are not even aware of. Here is a sample of ‘rare’ pictorial pickings. [All the pictures are from the book]
When a village was [hatti] was formed, a ‘Hethappa [Ancestor] Kallu [Stone]‘ was created and then a ‘Devva Mane [God’s House – Temple]‘ was built.

‘Hebbaiyilu’ [First /Big Threshold]‘ is the entrance to a village [Akka Bakka?]. It consists of two vertical stone pillars with a central horizontal stone containing carvings.

Devva Mane

11 responses to “Books on Badagas

  1. Pingback: Badaga Dictionary | Badagas of the Blue Mountains

  2. It is true that many so claimed ‘Badaga Historians’ take reference of Tamil Language. Why it can’t be Kannada language which is the origin of Badaga language. Is it because they are not familiar with languages other than Tamil? Kannada linguists center are clear that Badaga language is a ‘Hale Kannada’.

    Request all to look into respective Ooru’s Deva habba prayers. Jakkatha (ref: Paame) and Bamudi hatties have similar reference to ‘Tagadur’ region of Nanjangud as their place of origin. Ancient villages have their references clear. Let some one compile the ancient village Deva Habba prayers which will throw light on the origins.

    (Badaga is an unique language by itself and not a sub derivative of Tamil or kannada – Wg.Cdr.JP)



    Sir, Can you pls suggest where these books relates to badagas are available. I couldn’t find it in net.

    Hello Dhivya, deep apologies for the delay in displaying your comments. You may contact Dr.Haldorai for assistance at – Wg.Cdr.JP


  4. Is this book “Goddess Hethe of the Nilgiri Badagas” available anywhere in Chennai?


  5. Wow very nice and wounder full history ………. great badaga………


  6. kupandy damu (VIGNESH)

    me born in jackanarai proud to be an baduga guy…


  7. Magesh Bojan (Thumbimalai,Sholurmattam,Kotagiri)

    I am working in Bangalore, proud to be born in Ooty and as a Badaga


  8. mlle_sumathi

    Thanks to JP uncle and the subsidised price for the book, I was able to enjoy this weekend with Paame.There are so many interesting facts in the book which we younger generation brought up in towns hardly bother to notice.
    The Badaga people’s reverence for Nature is prominent in their customs. Very unfortunate that the white man had to come to disturb this tranquility and lay the foundation of commercialisation of the Nilgiris ….really to go to my village and rediscover the sutthukal and the hakka bukka, bana gudi, etc The prayer to the departed souls really fascinated me the most in Paame. Hope , we go back to those pristine days with Nature and Nature alone!


  9. Waiting for your detailed review 🙂

    JP adds : I have gone through the book a couple of times…and yes…it permeates positive energy…detail review soon…?


  10. The book is available at Higginbothams in Ooty, Chennai and Coimbatore. Oxford Books, Coimbatore also stocks copies of the book.


  11. Is this book available in Ooty? If it is, then name the book shops.

    JP adds : You can get the book by courier from me for Rs.250/- (including courier charges). ‘Paamé’ – a book on the Badagas by Bala is available at Higginbothams Ooty,Chennai and Coimbatore and also at Oxford book house, Coimbatore


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