(Last Updated on : 28/11/2014)
Karnataka is an abode of Toda tribal community who are dotted in every bend of the region. Apart from Karnataka, these Toda tribal communities can also be found in several other state of the Indian Territory. The origin of the Toda tribal community has got a history behind it. As per the records of the anthropologists, this Toda tribal community has established their settlements and lives cordially with other tribal communities like the Badaga, Kota, and Kurumba.
The Todas are seen as a pastoral tribe who herd buffaloes that roam the Nilgiri hills. Their way of living is simple and with their flowing beards, long hair, fine bodies and tall sticks in hand they resemble the prophets of the Old Testament.
The Toda tribes judge time by the opening of the evening primrose which they call the 'six o'clock flower'. Whether they have any connection with the cairns, cromlechs and victory towers that lie scattered over the Nilgiri Plateau is not known. The cairn builders were probably members of a Turanian tribe from Western Asia who brought with them their culture and customs.
As far as the languages are concerned, this Toda tribal community converse with each other in the language of the same name. This language has a belonging in the famous Dravidian language
family with complex and intricate phonology. Very recently some of the anthropologists of Indian subcontinent acquired proud membership in the southern sub division of the renowned proto-South-Dravidian family. Under the influence of the modern civilization some of the Toda tribal community can also gain fluency in other languages of India like Kannada, Telugu, Malayalam, etc.
The earliest record about them dates back to about 1117 AD when a ruler of Karnataka
came to the Nilgiris and dedicated the highest peak in the area to the Goddess Lakshmi
. They were still there in 1602 AD when a Portuguese Roman Catholic priest from Kolkata visited them. Interest in them was revived about 200 years later when the British reached the Nilgiris.
According to a particular school of thought, the Toda tribal community is one of the original tribal communities who had resided in the rugged provinces of the Nilgiris. Thus for quite a long time, the Toda tribal community have lead a life of complete isolation and alienation. Then in around 1823, the contemporary administrator of Coimbatore, John Sullivan liked the place of residence of this Toda tribal community and finally bought it from them. He also formed a town at that region which is popularly known as Udagamandalam. Thus the rapid communication with the modern world brought about several changes in the lifestyle this community. Areas where these Toda tribes make dwell are integrated to the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve
, a UNESCO famed International Biosphere Reserve.
Like most of the tribal communities of Indian subcontinent, the Toda tribal community has got huge inclination towards religion and spiritualism. This Toda tribal community worships their dairy-buffaloes with lots of veneration. Besides this Toda tribal community has a plethora of gods and goddesses. Kona Shastra is the sole religious occasion, which deals with yearly sacrifice of a male buffalo calf.
The society of Toda tribe is very well knit. Birth, marriage and cremation have separate norms. All these norms are strictly followed by the Toda tribe of the Nilgiris. It is a close-knit society where no discrimination is followed.
As far as the occupations of this Toda tribal community is concerned, maximum of these Toda tribes have taken up the occupations of cattle rearing and dairy farming. Most of the members have huge herd of buffaloes. This Toda tribal community sustains their livelihood from milk products. Toda tribes have also developed expertise in silver smiting. Societal structure of this Toda tribal community too has followed the norms and practices of most of the tribal communities of the whole of the Indian subcontinent. Just like many other tribal communities, the Toda tribal community has shown exuberance, which has rightly been exuberated in several of its cultural elements.