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The Badagas Tribes – A Community That Hails From South India

The tribes are residing throughout our country. They have a different culture, tradition, language and even food items. In every state, tribes reside in the hill, forest areas. Actually, to say, tribes are called as “God’s children” as they closely relate them to nature. Badagas are one such tribal community resides in the hills of Nilgiri (Blue Mountain), Tamilnadu, India.

The Nativity of Badagas

Badagas predominantly reside in the hill stations, Ooty, Coonoor, and Kothagiri. The places are being the getaways, especially in prickly hot summer. Not only from India, even from foreign countries tourists visit these hill stations enthusiastically.  The height of the Nilgiris is about 8000 ft which receive a sufficient rainfall every year. Its environment will never miss out to entice all.

The history says that Badagas had migrated from the Mysore 400 years ago. Now, they are about 1/4th of the Nilgiri’s population. Even though their primary occupation is agriculture, they are well developed in socio-economical and educational status. When compare to other tribes, Badagas are well knowledge, highly educated and even they have been into the politics. So, no one can bias them as underprivileged people.

Badagas Lifestyle

tribal house photoPhoto by Bobinson K B

Badagas hamlet is called as “HATTI” spread around “Nakku Betta”. Here the latter word literally means Nakku (four) and betta (Mountains). Badaga villages scattered over the plateau mostly. The houses are laid out in rows facing east direction. Their neat rowed houses encompassed by small fields. The houses are built by them with mud, stone, brick along with tiles coverage. There is a common wall for all the houses for security reasons. Every house has an entrance, living room, dining room, inner room, and kitchen. The kitchen contains a large basket above the hearth, bathroom and a separate room.

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In the earlier ages, the Badagas survived using a slash and burn farming techniques. But, now they started to produce crops such as wheat, cabbages, barley, millets, and potatoes. Besides, they also maintain cattle; sell the dairy products in the markets for extra income.

Whom do the Badagas worship?

The Badagas worship Lord Shiva as their main deity. There are plenty of temples for Lord Shiva in their location.”Mangkali Hubba”, “Deva Hubba”, “Jadeswami Hubba”, “Hethe Hubba”,”Sakklathi Hubba” are their main festivals. Alongside, Badagas also celebrate important Hindu festivals such as Pongal, Diwali and Ayutha Puja.

The attire

tribal dress india photoPhoto by garbyal

A mixture of Tamil and Kannada is spoken by Badagas. There is no any particular script for the language. The usual dress of Badaga men is a single cloth bordered with blue or red stripes and turbans. The Badaga women wear the same material for both upper and lower cloths which are worn by men. They usually wear silver, brass and iron ornaments.  The marriageable aged girls are tattooed on the chest and forehead with dots and lines.

Festivals of Badagas

“Uppu attuva hubba” is the main religious festival celebrated by the Badagas. In this festival, small holes are dug on the earth where salt water is poured. A silver or gold ring is placed on the hole’s corner side. Then, the cattle are brought and allowed to drink the salt water from the holes. They believe that such activity provides a good health to the cattle.

“Hethai hubba” is another festival celebrated in the January month. The story behind the festival is a virtuous woman, comes to know about her husband’s death through a clairvoyant and commits suicide. The Badaga people treating the woman as a Goddess, and celebrate the festival annually as her remembrance.

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The Death ceremony

In Badagas, the last rites to the dead person are done in a different manner. His relatives come with a basket decorated with flowers, boiled food in the basket to offer to the dead person. They believe that the dead person needs food during his long journey after his demise. A silver coin is placed on the forehead to indicate that the dead person was a ruler once in his lifetime. After the rituals, all the relatives stand in a queue and offer a grain called, Samaai (Little millet). Then, the Badagas surround the dead body; perform their community dance before the cremation or burial.

Featured Photo by chany14


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