Absence of a dowry-system, divorce by mutual consent, and widow-re-marriage: On the high status of women in Badaga communities (Nilgiri) – Tamil Nadu

The Badagas are a unique community living mainly in the Nilgiris District in Tamil nadu in South India. They are also the single largest community of the Nilgiris. Though classified backward, a significant factor is the high status of their women says Indu K Malla, a Badaga writer of distinction, in her article ” The myth of Badaga origin & migration […]

Since the Badagas have no script, their history has been documented in other languages (mostly English) by non-Badaga historians and anthropologists (mostly westerners). Since the Nilgiris formed part of the Mysore state domains till 1799, the question of the migrations of the Badagas to the Nilgiris, does not arise. […]

Badaga Henno, Sathiyada MannoThe title is only a rough translation of Badaga woman-hood, for there is no exact English translation for Sathiya – the nearest words are blessed or divine. (‘Mannu’ means soil). The Badaga woman is the epitome of ‘Shakthi’, and many of their festivals, legends, ballads and folk – tales are centred around women. In fact, the chief festival of the Badagas, Hethai Habba, is centred around ‘Hethai’, a woman imbued with divine powers, and who was subsequently deified. It is significant that though the Badagas are a patriarchal society, their women are held in high esteem. The high status of Badaga women perhaps derives from three main factors – the absence of a dowry – system, divorce by mutual consent, and widow-re-marriage. There is no stigma attached to widows; in fact they are part of the mainstream community, and in the fore – front of auspicious functions like engagement and wedding coremonies. Also, there is the practice of ‘hengava nadathodu” – a tradition of giving a daughter / sister material, emotional and moral support throughout her life.Traditional Badaga women are very hardworking, and are the mainstay of the family and the community. They till the soil, harvest the produce, collect fire – wood and water, and tend the cows, in addition to looking after their families. Since the Badagas have been mainly agriculturists, the Badaga women’s ethos is closely connected to the soil. In fact, even the proverbs of the Badagas evoke this ethos – for e.g : “Hennogiri, mannogiri” (A daughter’s / sister’s curse will turn the soil barren). […]

Source: http://badaga.in/
Address : http://badaga.in/
Date Visited: Sun Jan 25 2015 20:33:53 GMT+0100 (CET)

Shantha Thiagarajan, TNN | Nov 13, 2014

UDHAGAMANDALAM: They’ve been fighting to regain their lost status as tribals from the 1970s, and on Tuesday the Badagas, an indigenous community in the Nilgiris, filed a petition in the Madras High court to demand that they be included in the list of scheduled tribes. […]

The Badagas are classified as Backward Class in Tamil Nadu through constitutional orders. The 1901 census classified them as tribals and the 1911 census denoted Badagas as Hindu animist tribals having a tribal mother tongue. In 1931, they were classified as important primitive tribals of southern India. […]

Source: Badagas take fight for scheduled tribe status to Madras high court – The Times of India
Address : http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/Badagas-take-fight-for-scheduled-tribe-status-to-Madras-high-court/articleshow/45128857.cms
Date Visited: Sun Jan 25 2015 20:56:00 GMT+0100 (CET)

Shantha Thiagarajan | May 16, 2012

UDHAGAMANDALAM: To mark the 25th ‘Badaga Day’, the community members launched on Tuesday the ‘Academy for Badaga Culture‘ (ABC), a trust which will focus on many things including setting up of a museum for the community’s archives.

The Badagas, a predominant community in the Nilgiris, have been celebrating May 15 as ‘Badaga Day’ since 1989. On May 15, 1989, the Badagas gathered in large numbers and took out a rally in Ooty town to show their solidarity. Founder of the academy Manjai V Mohan said, “The academy will collect data about the community and its important personalities. Also, a list of firsts in the community will be compiled for future records.” […]

Source: “Badagas to dig into their past” by Shantha Thiagarajan, The Times of India, , 16 May 2012
Address : https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/coimbatore/Badagas-to-dig-into-their-past/articleshow/13159221.cms
Date Visited: 17 April 2022

Learn more about the Badaga community >>

Gender-based violence against women is at an all-time high in Tamil Nadu. For a State that is counted as progressive otherwise, the latest National Family Health Survey findings are a sobering call to action against spousal violence primarily spurred by alcoholism. Even as the State’s coffers are regularly filled by selling alcohol, it is important for the government to devise strategies to protect the women of this State from violence. […]

While a contradiction of such a degree between educational and financial indicators and the indicators on gender-based violence is almost unique in Tamil Nadu, activists and experts say it need not come as a surprise.

Swarna Rajagopalan, founder, Prajnya, says the numbers are not surprising as it is only a myth that better education, economic progress or an ideology that espouses something different would automatically yield a gender-equitable culture. […]

Poet and writer Meena Kandasamy says the problem lies in society’s approach towards violence, which is seen as a corrective disciplinary force. “Parents think it is completely okay to whack a child. Since childhood, violence within the family is seen as a virtuous force because the ‘intent is good’,” she says, adding that within a patriarchal society, women are infantilised and husbands are later given the ‘obligatory’ role of a disciplinarian. […]

S. Anandhi, professor, Madras Institute of Development Studies, says spousal violence is very much related to compulsory marriages. She points out that though the percentage of women accessing higher education in Tamil Nadu is high, a majority of them drop out of the job market after that. She says higher education in a way becomes a step, not towards jobs, but towards marriage, in which women have a limited choice. […]

Professor Anandhi says the purpose of educating women often turns out to be to prepare them for the economic mobility of families and not their own. The purpose itself is patriarchal. She adds that to address genderbased violence, society has to address the crisis of masculinity in the context of neo-liberal economic policies and the lack of quality jobs, particularly for men.

Prasanna Gettu, managing trustee and co-founder, International Foundation for Crime Prevention and Victim Care (PCVC), says that contrary to assumption in a highly patriarchal society, improvement in education and economic independence may in fact increase domestic violence. […]

Source: “No safe haven for women at home” by by Pon Vas­anth B.A (*Name changed to pro­tect iden­tity) (With in­puts from Vig­nesh Rad­hakr­ish­nan and Re­becca Rose Vargh­ese), The Hindu 17 April 2022
URL: www.thehindu.com
Date Visited: 17 April 2022

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Shanthi Kunjan with mother © Priti David in 
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“Tribal languages are a treasure trove of knowledge about a region’s flora, fauna and medicinal plants. Usually, this information is passed from generation to generation. However, when a language declines, that knowledge system is completely gone.” – Ayesha Kidwai (Centre for Linguistics, School of Language, Literature and Culture Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi) quoted by Abhijit Mohanty in “Seven decades after independence, many tribal languages in India face extinction threat” | Learn more about the work done by the People’s Linguistic Survey of India and endangered languages worldwide >>

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“The theoretical debate on caste among social scientists has receded into the background in recent years. [C]aste is in no sense disappearing: indeed, the present wave of neo-liberal policies in India, with privatisation of enterprises and education, has strengthened the importance of caste ties, as selection to posts and educational institutions is less based on merit through examinations, and increasingly on social contact as also on corruption.” – Harald Tambs-Lyche (Professor Emeritus, Université de Picardie, Amiens) in “Caste: History and the Present” (Academia Letters) | Learn more: Accountability | Democracy | Education and literacy >>

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