Badagars have their unique language called ” badugu” and it is not the dialect of any language which was proved by a French linguist Christin Pilot Raichoor on her research. Badaga language don’t have a keen written scripts Badagas are the aboriginal tribes of Nilgiris.Most of the badagas live in the Nilgiri district.There are around 400 villages in Nilgiris whereas it is only been spoken yet.
It is said that badagas have been migrated from southern mysore provinces ,mainly from Nanjangud and Ummatur.Later the Ummatur Rayas ‘ empire declined and it led to the fall in the customs and traditions of the badagas.
Nilgiris was called as badaga nad or badaga country by Frederic prince,1908:15,16”,”W.Francis,1908:209”,R.Sugumaran,2014:13”.
Badaga cultures were very rich and unique.Badagars celebrate each and every ceremony such as naming ceremony,where a child receives its name on seventh ,ninth or eleventh day,puberty ceremony in which the girl is given a ceremonial wash and decorated with dresses and ornaments ,and a marriage ceremony where dowry is unthinkable among badagas.”thaali “ a rope is tied by the male is a special indentification for the outsiders to know that the girl is married,and the last is the death ceremony ,when the person dies , a gold coin called” sinnatha hana “is placed in their mouth.Death ceremony in badagas are more complicated.When death occurs the respective villagers should take the responsibility while the family doesn’t have any burden.
The tribal costume of the badaga men consist of white turban ,a long cloth with red,black and gold stripes which is wrapped round through one end is over his shoulder called” seelae “and a white cloth tied over the head called “ mandarae”.
Woman wear a white cloth covering body called “mundu” and “thundu” which is tied around her chest.and a cloth tied around head called “pattu”.
Badagas called festivals as” HABBA” .They are mainly hethai and ayya deties.The celebration of hethai habba is spread over the month of DecemberJanuary over all villages.All are used to wear white and white in this festival.people from outside are provided food all the time of the festival days specially called as “annadhana”.
Primary occupation of the badagas is agriculture.Many work on tea and coffee estates and some tend a flock of sheep,and some with the buffalos and cows.
Most of the ancestors ate hatchikae which was made using little millet or samai which is suited for all age groups.and some grains are roasted in earthen pot called madakae with a hole on the side using a wooden stick with a cloth tied at the end and another special food called eragi ittu which is done using finger millets which are the alternatives of rice and wheat which is eaten up with ghee, greens and beans curry called avarae udhakka in badaga are the some of the best and famous food of badaga culture.
In a while the dish ganjikae that is barely have also became a rarity.
Ancestors of badagas made sure that they prepare almost everything from scratch butter ,curd ,ghee all were prepared from milk of cows or buffalos of their own and that was the great period of badaga culture with the heathy food and healthy life. Now the increase in the cultivation of tea led to the decline in the cultivation of millets and other grains in Nilgiris.
They firmly believe that if more people followed older tradition ,both the people and earth would be healthier.