Study of Ancient Tribes

Sreetours issues certificates after the learnings

Badaga community is one of the oldest tribal community in the queen hills. They have the unique and adaptable traditions.

The Badagas are Hindus of the Shiva sect; the shrines and temples of them are numerous. They celebrate festivals like "Hethe Hubba", "Deva Hubba", "Dodda Hubba", "Sakklathi Hubba", "Jadeswami Hubba" and "Mangkali Hubba". They also celebrate the major Hindu festivals like Diwali, Pongal, Ayutha Puja, etc.

The Badaga language is a mixture of Kannada and Tamil. Though there is no script for this language, it has a fairly rich oral literature, poetry, songs, and prayer charts.

The customary dress of Badaga men is a single, coarse, unbleached cloth, edged with red or blue stripes and turbans are worn. The Badaga women wear upper and lower cloths of the same material as that worn by men. Their ornaments consist of brass, iron and silver. Girls of a marriageable age are tattooed on the forehead and the chest is also tattooed with lines and dots.

Their complexion is fair, their features are pleasant, their hair black and straight and they are of medium height. The Badagas are a gentle and light-hearted people who are fond of music and songs.

Badaga is one of the unique communities which has its own rich set of traditions and customs. Badaga community is wide spread in the villages of ooty. This largest community is now with the population of approximately 3,00,000.This forms the largest population of the nilgiri district.

There are four Seemai in the community, Mekunadu, Kunda Seemai, thodanadu, Porangadu.

Agriculture is the main occupation of the people, They speak the unwritten Badaga language and are the one of the social groups in Nilgiris

Life Style

Most of the Badaga villages scattered over the plateau present a pleasing appearance with their neat rows of tiled, one-storied houses, surrounded by tiny fields, the houses, themselves, are built of mud, stone, or brick, and are covered with tiles. The villages of Badagas are called as "Hatti".

Initially, the Badagas manage to survive by using slash and burn farming techniques. But recently, as a response to the growing middle class, they started producing cash crops for added income. Generally, the Badagas farm millets, barley, wheat, potatoes, and cabbages (the latter two produced mainly for extra income). They also keep large number of cattle, and sell a good part of their dairy produce to Europeans.


There are number of graded castes among the Badagas. The Lingayat and Wodeya clans are at the top of the group, and the Toreyas at the bottom. Different clans of various hierarchies have specific functions in the community. The Tuneri village, for example, produces the hereditary position of Badaga chief, the Lingayat village, produces gurus that oversee life-cycle rituals, and the Wodeya, Haruva, and Kurumbu clans produce priests of various functions.

The people of the community are very fond of the white color, so one can spot them dressed in this particular color an all occasions. and the most highlighting thing is the turban, a white turban. this is their customary dress. the elderly women of this community, wear the mundu wrapped around the body and the thundu tied on the head, another traditional dress.


The main occupation of the people in this community is agriculture.Tea plantation is the major agriculture here.Apart from this they also plant cheesy butter beans,Twiny double beans , Tiny Peas, Rich green Leaves,fatty potatoes ,colorful carrots .Greeny beans , leafy cabbages, beautiful cauli flower, pear shaped chuchu, big pumpkin, raw banana plantain and many more.

Badaga language

Badaga is a southern Dravidian language spoken by approximately 135,000 people in the Nilgiri Hills of Tamil Nadu.[2] It is known for its retroflex vowels. The word Badaga, meaning "northerner", refers to the Badaga language as well as the Badaga indigenous people who speak it. Badaga has five vowels qualities, /i e a o u/, each of which may be long or short Current speakers only distinguish retroflection for a few vowels.


Badaga houses are fascinating and traditional buildings. The houses portray the richness of the culture and the heart of the people. Their hospitality is just amazing. Among the wide spread green carpet, the houses bloom like tiny huts and little cottages. As there are more then three hundred odd hattis (villages) in ooty, every village consists of atleast hundred houses. The amazing sight of these cute dwelling places will definitely steal the heart.

The houses of each village were laid out in rows, each row facing the east. The houses had common walls (Gode mane) possibly as a measure of security. Every house had exactly the same configuration of Bayilu (entrance), Nadu mane (central-living/dining room ),Oge mane (inner room) where cooking also takes place (kitchen) with a large beskatti (basket) above the hearth where drying takes place, Pillay (bathroom) and Ereh (a separate room adjacent to the bayilu). Of couse, there was an attic on top of beskatti( kitchen having a hearth) the entry to which is from the nadumane.


Badaga wedding is not a usual Hindu wedding. It has the interesting customs and traditions. The first important thing is No dowry. Even the preparations for marriage and the customary feast after the marriage, called Maduve Hittu is organized by the groom’s side. The wedding ceremony usually take place in the groom’s place. The bride’s side arrive at the place of the groom early in the morning. Then the bride, groom and the other relatives and the village people, head to the temple. there The most sacred ceremony of thalli katudho(tying the thalli) ceremony takes place. Thrn the newly wedded come back home and the sweet dish made out of banana and milk is served to the girl. the girl respectfully takes it and washes the plate. the mat in which the girl sat is also washed. this marks that the girl has accepted. then the girl brings a pot full of water from the near by stream with two other women from her village. This is said to be one of the old traditional method. Then the badaga dance is performed and matuve hittu the feast take place. people in the same village are considered brothers and sisters. so, no badaga wedding take place among the same group. they choose the bride from the other region or village.

Badaga Jewellery

The gold or silver bangle or rather bracelet around the wrist is known as ‘ KADAGA ‘ or ‘ CHIPPU BAE ‘ and the thick flat armlet just above the elbow is ‘BAE’.


Badagaru Hittu

It’s of bathalu, sandege, and uppukorai that introduces us to the traditional Badagafood Bathalu is crispy sun dried potatoes, sandege is the tangy onion and garlic chutney that we dip into, and uppukorai is steamed and salted beans. That’s starters for you and they score high on taste. It gets better with a cup of hot rasam or maasu neeru, as the Badagas call it. The Badaga farmers are known for their mixed farming of millets, barley, wheat, and commercial vegetables including potato, carrots and cabbage, and hence the food they eat often uses seasonal and locally grown vegetables. THUPPADHITTU made out of maida is the sweet dish which can be seen in all badaga occasions such as weddings and functions, in all festivals, and even during death.

The Badaga dance

Dance plays a key role in all functions, festivals and even for death funeral of badagar.This fun loving people do not hesitate to step out for a dance step if a function or a festival in the community happens. From a small kid to hundred year old, people have fun in performing the ritual badaga dance.

Badaga dance was almost always performed by the artists wearing a typical dress called ‘Dodda Kuppacha’ – a two piece attire in white consisting of a top ‘waist coat’ like what the Rajasthani rural folks wear and a bottom skirt. Since the badaga dance is based on many steps in which the dancers go around [revolving] in circles, these skirts open up making a beautiful sight.

It is normally performed in a circle, with participants of all age group,both men and women.


Hethai Amman is the goddess of the Badaga people.There are nine goddess in hethai. Kada hethai and kada aiya are some of the names of hethai gods. hethai festival is a major festival and is celebrated in a grand way.Hethai festival though is a customary and traditional festival people enjoy and celebrate this particular carnival a lot. Badaga dance is the high lighting custom performed to please and make the goddess happy. In the same way each and every festival in the badagar community is celebrated. As per the tradition of the badaga community, hethai amman god is not supposed to be displayed in photos.

Badaga Funeral

Though, comparatively a small community, Badagas have settled in many towns and cities, away from their Hattis -Villages in the Nilgiris, both in India and abroad. When a death occurs in any family that is settled outside, the first and the most appropriate action would be, to take the dead to his/her hatti in the Nilgiris where the Last Rites – Funeral Ceremony would be conducted by the concerned hatti in the traditional manner.

Toda people

The Toda people are a small pastoral tribal community who live on the isolated Nilgiri plateau in hill country of Southern India. . The Toda traditionally live in settlements called mund, consisting of three to seven small thatched houses, constructed in the shape of half-barrels and located across the slopes of the pasture, on which they keep domestic buffalo.[2Their economy was pastoral, based on the buffalo, which dairy products they traded with neighbouring peoples of the Nilgiri Hills. Toda society and culture have been the focus of an international effort at culturally sensitive environmental restoration.

This tribe is of special attention to the ethnographers and physical anthropologists as they belong to Caucasoid racial stock, surrounded by Proto-Australoid groups like the Badaga, Kota, Kurumba and the Irula with whom they are in socio-economic symbiotic relation. They speak a language which is very close to Tamil.

The numerical strength of the members of Toda tribe has gone down considerably during the past few decades. The estimated population of theirs was roughly about 768.


The forced interaction with other peoples with technology has caused a lot of changes in the lifestyle of the Toda. They used to be primarily a pastoral people but are now increasingly venturing into agriculture and other occupations. They used to be strict vegetarians but some now eat non-vegetarian food. Smoking is the common form of taking narcotics, which is practiced by both sexes. They also use snuff in the nostrils and mouth. They are habituated to country liquor which they purchase from the market.


The Toda Tribe of Nilgiril Hills are pastoral people. They rear buffaloes arid produce different milk products, like ghee, cheese, butter, curd which they sell or exchange with the different products of the neighboring tribes to procure the things of their day-to-day use. Thus, they are involved in “socio-economic symbiosis” with the neighboring tribes, as mentioned above.

The dairy works are absolutely the males’ business. Females are debarred from entering the dairy house even. Previously, males were engaged in cooking but now this duty has been shifted to the female inmates of the house. They are also assigned such duties like, the rearing of children, fetching of drinking water, and fuel from the jungle. Milking, churning, etc. are males jobs. They milk their buffaloes twice a day i.e. in the early morning and also in the evening. The lifestyle of Todas are mainly pastoral. In recent times, they are also engaged in other economic activities (such as agriculture) to subsidize their pastoral economy.

The most important domestic animal of the Toda is the buffalo. They generally classify two types of buffaloes – ordinary and sacred buffalo herds. The former type is being owned by individual Toda family while the latter type is supposed to be the property of the clan.


The Toda language is a member of the Dravidian family. The language is typologically aberrant and phonologically difficult.

It split off from South Dravidian, after Kannada and Telugu, but before Malayalam. In modern linguistic terms, the aberration of Toda results from a disproportionately high number of syntactic and morphological rules, of both early and recent derivation, which are not found in the other South Dravidian languages (save Kota, to a small extent.)


The Toda dress consists of a single piece of cloth, which is worn like shalya wrap over a dhoti for men and as a skirt for women along with shalya wrap. The symbols from traditional costumes are very old and similar to those worn in ancient India, according to surviving representations.

The Toda men and women wear loose garments, covering almost the entire body. A type of long, stitched garment made of loin cloth is usually worn by men. A part of this garment is thrown over the shoulders. This cloak-like attire of the males is provided with pockets’. Women wear loose loin garments of multi-colors. The female garments are divided into two parts – blouse-like upper part and skirt-like lower part Children generally shave their head in a peculiar fashion: they are found to have neat shaving all around and the top, leaving lock of hair in front and back. Women decorate their bodies with designed tattoo marks and they are very fond of using ornaments of silver, brass, and iron. Ear-rings are worn by both the sexes

The Toda villages are usually situated on the hill-slopes. Half-barrel shaped, long hut is generally occupied by two or three Toda families

The Todas live in small hamlets called munds. The Toda huts, called dogles, are of an oval, pent-shaped construction. They are usually 10 feet (3 m) high, 18 feet (5.5 m) long and 9 feet (2.7 m) wide. They are built of bamboo fastened with rattan and are thatched. Thicker bamboo canes are arched to give the hut its basic pent shape. Thinner bamboo canes (rattan) are tied close and parallel to each other over this frame. Dried grass is stacked over this as thatch. Each hut is enclosed within a wall of loose stones.

The front and back of the hut are usually made of dressed stones (mostly granite). The hut has a tiny entrance at the front – about 3 feet (90 cm) wide, 3 feet (90 cm) tall, through which people must crawl to enter the interior. This unusually small entrance is a means of protection from wild animals. The front portion of the hut is decorated with the Toda art forms, a kind of rock mural painting.

Cattle-shed is separately constructed

The dairy-house is generally attached to it. Two or three apartments are found in a dairy house of average size: the first one being used by the guardsmen as their sleepingroom, while in others dairy operations are being done.

Household utensils and furniture

The Toda use earthen containers and cooking pots in their kitchen. Wooden kiddies, wooden plates, leaf-cups, iron-cauldron and fry pans are found in their kitchen as well. Aluminium buckets are used in fetching water for home consumption and also for their dairy activities.


They once practised fraternal polyandry, a practice in which a woman marries all the brothers of a family, but no longer do so.[6][7] All the children of such marriages were deemed to descend from the eldest brother. The ratio of females to males is about three to five. The culture historically practised female infanticide. In the Toda tribe, families arrange contracted child marriage for couples. Marriage with a non-Toda is not socially permissible.


The Toda people are purely vegetarians. Seldom have they taken non-vegetarian dishes. Rice is their staple food which they procure from the neighboring tribes in exchange of milk or milk-products. The most favorite dish of the Toda is rice boiled in milk, locally known as ‘jagari’. They usually prepare different vegetable dishes to round up their diet. They habitually take different milk-products too.


This temple is more than 1000 years old there u can see a small way to get in. they will open it only on fridays. also u can see there some round stones. one who wants to marry a girl of that community should weigh that stone on his shoulder.


Annual festival assumes significance as Toda tribes worship Goddess ‘Thekish''. the deity at the temple and pray for well being of the world and also pray for good rains, agriculture and health” Toda tribal festival “Modhwedh”, a unique festival of one of the primitive tribes in the country, at their head temple at Muthanadmund

It was rare coincidence that this festival of the Nilgiris Toda tribes, showcasing the rich tribal culture and tradition in the hills, fell on the New Year day this season, hogging the limelight for its uniqueness. Usually, this festival is held either in the last week of December or in the first week of January on a Sunday.

During this festival only the male members hailing from different clans of the Toda community, including children, come to the famed conical shaped temple called as “Moonboo”, the head temple of the Toda tribes located at Muthanadmund, for worshiping. The female members of the community keep off as they are by custom, not allowed to go to this temple during this festival to worship.

Toda tribal dance and songs and lifting of stones, a traditional festival of sports, by the youth evoked fascination, a good chunk of tourists too witnessed the festival celebration for its difference.

Special dish

Singing, dancing and partaking of a special dish made with milk and rice marked the occasion.

Death and Funeral

The funeral ceremonies are of two types – Green and Dry disposals of the dead. In case of child-death, both these types of disposal are held simultaneously. On the event of adult-death, the green type of disposal is held in the first stage, and a few months later dry function is held which may not be for single individual but for a number of dead persons together. The chief-mourner, in the case of a man, is his son or brother but for a woman, her husband is considered to be the chief-mourner. If an unmarried person dies, his cross-cousin (female) plays the role of wife and widow. The funeral pyre is lighted from a fire ignited by friction which is thought to be sacred. After cremation, pieces of charred bones and cranium are kept carefully for the dry disposal rite to be held later on singly or jointly. These human body-remnants are burned subsequently. Pollution is maintained for a specific period. Purificatory bath is generally taken by the mourners or the completion of the pollution period. Then, the post-funeral ceremony is held.