Ooty: The Nilgiris Documentation Centre (NDC) here which is in possession of interesting accounts on the lives of people in the hills in the past, gives a note on the Badaga epic that portrays the fortitude of Badaga women in Nilgiris in ancient times. Badagas still constitute the single largest ethnic community in Nilgiris.
Hill veteran Dharmalingam Venugopal, director of NDC, said that celebrating the quintessential Badaga women, who have been the bedrock of the Badaga community for hundreds of years, is a fitting tribute on International Women’s Day. It is the courage, hard work, determination and sacrifices of the humble Badaga women that Badaga society has survived and prospered over the centuries.
He said the ‘Ballad Giriji Madhi’ and ‘Bela Madha’ capture the core values and typical lifestyle of the Badagas, which have sustained the community over the years. The story goes like this:-
Giriji Madhi is the ideal Badaga wife, devoted to the husband and his family and painstaking to keep up the good name of her family and that of her husband. They are married for 12 years but she never thought of going to her parent’s village.
When she finally wants to go for a festival in her parent’s village, there was some opposition to that from the others in the joint family as there was plenty of work at home. Making haste, Giriji Madhi sets off from Kolacombai to Kundah on her own. Hearing what has happened, Madha rushes back from field and follows Madhi.
She reluctantly confides to Madha that it was her desire to see her parents and attend the festival after 12 years that made her leave alone. Madha understands and they travel the rest of the way. But tragedy strikes Madha on the way. Unfortunately, those days every Badaga tragedy was attributed to sorcery. Anyway, Madhi realizes that end is near for Madha. Still she acts normal, visits her parents, attends the festival with Madha.
Madha desires that he should get back to his village before he dies. Despite Madha’s desperate efforts to get back he collapses on the way.
Madhi is grief-stricken, but she acts with great fortitude. She herself carries out the Badaga rites due to a dying man in solitude.
Madha is given a traditional funeral. A heart-broken Madhi grieves over Madha’s death and so after passes away....