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Sunday, October 03, 2010

The Land of the Badagas

Most of the Nilgiri Mountains today are inhabited by the Badaga community. The rest of the inhabitants of the Nilgiris are people who have migrated from Kerala and other parts of Tamil Nadu and the other local native tribes of the Nilgiris (Todas, Irulas, Kotas,Kurubas, etc.) who are a minority today in the Nilgiris.

 
These Badagas used to be locals of Mysore before they fled to the Nilgiris, especially the areas around Ooty, Coonoor and Kotagiri. It is believed that the Badagas migrated from Mysore due to the threat from Tipu Sultan who used to rule during that time.

I have been told by Wing Commander B Jayaprakash, who himself blogs a lot about the Badaga community and their customs, that the above information is incorrect and that the Badagas are actually one of the original and native tribes of the Nilgiris.

 
The Badagas speak a language called ‘Badaga’, which is primarily a dialect of Kannada spoken in a heavy Tamil accent. This is the language that they use to communicate with other Badagas, but they are equally adept at speaking Tamil too and hence you might confuse them to be native Tamil people.

 
The Badagas are primarily a pastoral community and can be seen working in huge numbers in the umpteen tea estates situated in the Nilgiris. But, since they struggle to make both ends meet with just the tea picking business, they have diversified into many private and government jobs to earn a more steadier source of income.

I have been told by Wing Commander B Jayaprakash, who himself blogs a lot about the Badaga community and their customs, that the above information is incorrect and that the Badagas are highly educated and spread across the globe and are not confined to tea estates alone.

P.S. All of the information written above have come out of conversations I have had with various people from the Badaga Community in Kotagiri, Coonoor and Red Hills.



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