Badaga people

The Badagas are an indigenous people inhabiting the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, southern India. Their language is Badaga. They are largest indigenous social group in Nilgiris.[1]


Badaga people migrated from the area of old Mysore state more than three centuries ago.[2] They speak a language which is very similar to the Old Kannada language.[2] Six distinct groups were identified in Badagas, which are Udaya or Wodeyar, Adhikari, Kanaka, Haruva, Badaga and Thoreya.[2] They also claimed their ancestry to a village named Badaganahalli, near Mysore.[2]

In the 1930s, H. B. Ari Gowder founded the Nilgiris Cooperative Marketing Society (NCMS), to help achieve better prices for Badagas farm products.[3] The NCMS was in response to chicanery by lowland middlemen who would reduce prices by playing off one farmer against another.[3]Hari Gowder was the first Badagas to be elected to the Madras Legislative Council.[4]


"Thundu" (a white piece of cloth) forms integral part of attire of Badaga women and the same is presented to dignitaries visiting the villages, as a gesture of good will.[5]


Former Loksabha MP, Akkamma Devi was the first Badaga woman to graduate from college and represented the Nilgiri Loksabha constituency from 1962 to 1967.[6]

Backward caste

There is a long standing demand to include Badagas in the list of Scheduled Tribes, which is yet to be considered by the Central Government.[7]


Badagas worship several Hindu deities,[5] including Shiva. But their main deity is "Hethai" and they celebrate "Hethai Habba" in a grand fashion which spreads over a month during December-January every year, and the festival is celebrated all over the district.[1]


Further reading


  • J.W.Breeks (1873), An Account of the Primitive Tribes of the Nilgiris; Nilgiri Manual, vol. i. pp. 218–228; Madras Journ. of Sci. and Lit. vol. viii. pp. 103–105; Madras Museum Bulletin, vol. ii., no. i, pp. 1–7.
  • Hockings, P. (1988). Counsel from the ancients, a study of Badaga proverbs, prayers, omens and curses. Berlin and New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
  • Hockings, P. (1989). The cultural ecology of the Nilgiris District. In P. Hockings (Ed.), Blue Mountains: The ethnography and biogeography of a South Indian region (pp. 360–376). New Delhi and New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Hockings, P. (1999). Kindreds of the earth: Badaga household structure and demography. New Delhi and Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
  • Hockings, P. (2001). Mortuary ritual of the Badagas of Southern India. (Fieldiana, Anthropology, n.s., 32.) Chicago: Field Museum of Natural History.
  • Jayaprakash.B. Wg.Cdr.(2009). Badagas of the Blue Mountains [1]
  • Balasubramaniam,B. (2009). Paame - the history and culture of the Badagas of the Nilgiris. Elkon Press,Bangalore [2]
  • Badaga Social Network (2010). Badagas of The Nilgiris and the World over [3]
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