Amidst considerable religious fervour the curtain went up on 'Hethai Habba' the main festival of the Badaga community (the largest indigenous social group in the Nilgiris) here on Monday. Thousands of devotees clad in the traditional white dress of the community flocked to places like Kannerimukku and Kerbetta near Kotagiri and Hallu Kerai near Coonoor to pay obeisance to their presiding deity ‘Hethe’.

Religious processions with many holding aloft the, ‘Hetthe Dhadi’, the holy shaft which symbolizes the miracle of Goddess Hethe, marked the occasion. Over the next few days the festival will be celebrated in different villages including Petthala, Beragani, Dhavani, Nunthala and Ketti.

Speaking to The Hindu senior members of the community including T.M. Kullan, President, Thothanadu Seemai Badagar Welfare Association pointed out that a belief which was growing stronger with each passing year was that from her sacred abode in Beragani the ancestress Goddess of the Badagas, “endows the whole community with her unfailing boons and presides over the welfare of all her progeny”.

Adverting to the disharmony in some of the Badaga villages like Nanjanad and B.Manihatty which recently witnessed violent incidents, they hoped that differences would be sorted out and normalcy restored before the curtain comes down on the Hethe season.

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