The Badagas are an indigenous people inhabiting the Nilgiri
Hills of Tamil Nadu, southern India. Their language is Badaga.
They are largest indigenous social group in Nilgiris.
Badaga people migrated from the area of old Mysore state more
than three centuries ago.They speak a language which is very
similar to old Kannada language. Six distinct groups were
identified in Badagas, which are Udaya or Wodeyar, Adhikari,
Kanaka, Haruva, Badaga and Thoreya. They also claimed their
ancestry to a village named Badaganahalli, neary Mysore.
In the 1930s, H. B. Ari Gowder founded the Nilgiris Cooperative
Marketing Society (NCMS), to help achieve better prices for
Badagas farm products. The NCMS was in response to chicanery
by lowland middlemen who would reduce prices by playing off
one farmer against another.Hari Gowder was the first Badagas
to be elected to the Madras Legislative Council.
"Thundu" (a white piece of cloth) forms integral
part of attire of Badaga women and the same is presented to
dignitaries visiting the villages, as a gesture of good will.
Former Loksabha MP, Akkamma Devi was the first Badaga woman
to graduate from college and represented the Nilgiri Loksabha
constituency from 1962 to 1967.
There is a long standing demand to include Badagas in the
list of Scheduled Tribes, which is yet to be considered by
the Central Government.
Badagas worship several Hindu deities including Ranganatha,
Shiva etc. But their main deities are "Hethai" and
"Ayya" and they celebrate "Hethai Habba"
in a grand fashion which spreads over a month during December-
January every year and the festival is celebrated in several
places like Kotagiri and Coonoor etc