Toda cultural heritage and education: Nilgiri mountains – Tamil Nadu


Photographs© Tribal Cultural Heritage in India Foundation

A visit to the Toda hamlet known as Taranadmund near Ooty makes it clear that for the Toda community, cultural heritage is part of everyday life and worship. The local economy continues to involve buffalo rearing.


As the Tamil Nadu State Government promotes Toda culture in the context of Indian and foreign tourism, a senior couple now inhabits a newly constructed traditional home facilitated by a grant. It features traditional materials and decorations such as the barrel shaped thatched roof and a low entrance door that also characterize nearby shrines. According to these Toda elders, the younger generation prefers the privacy and convenience afforded by the simple houses seen in the same hamlet just as elsewhere.


For parents belonging to the Toda and Kota communities scattered across the Nilgiri region, sending their children to the Thakkar Baba Gurukulam is an option. It is named after Thakkar Baba (Takkar Bapa, Amritlal Vithaldas Thakkar (1869–1951).

Thakkar Baba, a social worker working for the upliftment of tribal people, became a member of the Servants of India Society founded by Gopal Krishna Gokhale in 1914; and later the general secretary of the Harijan Sevak Sangh founded by Mahatma Gandhi. On his initiative, the Bharatiya Adimjati Sevak Sangh, a National Level Voluntary Organization, was constituted 1948. With grants by the Government of India, it manages Women & Child Development programmes, schools, hostels, and also maintains a Tribal Museum.

The Toda people are a small pastoral community who live on the isolated Nilgiri plateau of Southern India. Before the late 18th century, the Toda coexisted locally with other communities, including the Badaga, Kota, and Kuruba, in a loose caste-like community organization in which the Toda were the top ranking.[1] […]

The Toda traditionally live in settlements consisting of three to seven small thatched houses, constructed in the shape of half-barrels and spread across the slopes of the pasture.[2] They traditionally trade dairy products with their Nilgiri neighbour peoples.[2] Toda religion centres on the buffalo; consequently, rituals are performed for all dairy activities as well as for the ordination of dairymen-priests. […]

Source: Toda people – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Date Visited: Fri Aug 12 2011 10:02:38 GMT+0200 (CEST)

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