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Badaga community of Nilgiri Hills, from Castes and Tribes of Southern India (1909)

The Badagas are an indigenous people inhabiting the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu, southern India. Their language is Badaga. They are the 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] They also claimed their ancestry to a village named Badaganahalli, near Mysore.[2] Six distinct groups were identified in Badagas, which are Udaya or Wodeyar,Thoreya, Adhikari, Haruva, Badaga and Kanaka.[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 . Badugas wil marry within their community and also they follow different tradition function during marriage session. They celebrate karthigai deepam and their important festive is hathai habba. [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] Belli Lakshmi Ramakrishnan M.A., was the first Badaga woman post graduate in social work, and went on to first woman gazetted officer to serve in the Tamil Nadu State Government Department of Health and Family Welfare.[citation needed]

Backward caste[edit]

Badagas was in list once, but unfortunately they are removed from the list. There is a long standing demand to include Badagas , 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]


  1. ^ a b Radhakrishnan, D. (9 January 2012). "Festival of Badagas begins in the Nilgiris". The Hindu. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d Thurston, E. (1909). "Badagas and Irulas of Nilgiris". Bulletin [of Madras Government Museum] (Madras, India: Madras Government Museum) 2 (1): 2–7. Retrieved 6 February 2013. 
  3. ^ a b Special correspondent (5 December 2012). "Badaga leader’s birth anniversary celebrated". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Hockings, Paul (1980). Ancient Hindu Refugees: Badaga Social History 1550-1975. The Hague, Netherlands: Mouton. p. 178. ISBN 978-90-279-7798-4. 
  5. ^ a b Radhakrishnan, D. (20 May 2008). "Jayalalithaa visits temple in Badaga village". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 14 July 2011. 
  6. ^ Staff (23 November 2012). "Former Congress MP Akkamma Devi passes away". The Hindu Business Line (The Hindu). Archived from the original on 8 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Special correspondent (30 July 2011). "Include Badagas in ST list: Jayalalithaa requests PM". The Hindu. Archived from the original on 28 August 2011. 

Further reading[edit]

  • 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]