Culture and traditions of Badaga
Divya dharshini | 06 Oct 2014

Badaga community is one of the oldest tribal community in the queen hills. They have the unique and adaptable traditions. Though agriculture is the main occupation of the people, now you can see people shining in all fields. Many have also moved to towns for other professions. If you are on tour to Ooty, do not forget to witness the badaga culture which is wide spread among the mystifying green mountains.


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. Historians argue that badagas are the natives of Nilgiris, but many say that these people originated from the near by state Karnataka. Now Nilgiris has become the place for the whole badaga community. 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.


The main occupation of the people in this community is agriculture. Teaplantation is the major agriculture here.Apartfrom this they also plant cheesy butter beans,Twiny double beans , Tiny Peas, Rich green Leaves,fatty potatoes,colorful carrots,Greeny beans, Leafy cabbages,beautiful Cauliflower, pear shaped Chuchu,big Pumpkin, raw Banana plantain and  many more.


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.

Just imagine a house in the slope and the early morning sight of the mild sun rays spreading over the green hills and the breezy cold wind.  Yes, it is tantalizing and the badaga people are very lucky. The houses were made out of bricks and woods in the early time. Though these were small it accommodated many families. As the technological development took the lead. These houses are now build all the concretes and cements. But, even now you can still find the traditional houses in the rural Ooty.


Hethai Amman is the goddess of the Badaga people.Thereare 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.


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.


The music played makes even the sick people to dance.The beats are so compelling that no one could escape from a badaga function without dancing a step.


Kali made out of raagi, Butter Beans, Sandagai, Green leaves are the daily consumed foods.

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. Variki and salt biscuits, roasted rice called as gangikai are some of the crispy snacks  with Tea.

Badaga Attires

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.


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.


The groom's side arrives at the place of the bride. In an auspicious time, the groom side offers the chain and the dress to the girl. The relatives and the people of the groom's village asks the girl for the acceptance for the marriage. Then, they bless the bride. After the engagement the girl is not supposed to move from her place till the marriage day. And, the most interesting part of the ceremony is that, the boy is not supposed to see the girl till the engagement ceremony gets over. The people from the boy's side is then invited for the engagement feast. Of course the badaga dance is then performed.


Before the wedding day, the groom's side goes to the bride's place to invite the girl for the marriage. The whole family and the village of the bride celebrate the day before by decorating the house and performing the evergreen badaga dance. Before six o clock, the girl gets the blessing from the people of the groom's side then she goes to each and every house in the village to get the blessings from her own village people. Her friends and the surroundings are invited for tea, and the bride side organizes the pre-wedding feast.


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.  Then 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 nearby 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 maduve hittu the feast take place.

Achievements Of Baduga's

Former Loksabha MP, Akkamma Devi was the first Badaga woman to graduate from college and represented the Nilgiri Loksabha constituency from 1962 to 1967. 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. Mrs. Sivakami Nandha was the first Badaga woman IPS officer.