Badaga Henno, Sathiyada Manno(Badaga Woman or Earth Mother)
The 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 Habbais 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.
BADAGA WOMEN....BEFORE & NOW....
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).
During the past 50 years, however, Badaga women have become educated by leaps and bounds, and many of them are doctors, lawyers, engineers, educationists, scientists, research scholars, journalists, social workers etc., living and working all over the world. Outstanding among them is Smt. Akkamma Devi, the first woman – graduate, and the first woman member of parliament in the Badaga community.