Todas live in a sort of classless, caste-less society where everybody is equal. They have a sacred tree, the thon, which they venerate.
A man can dispense with his wife but the compensation in buffaloes is so heavy that it acts as a deterrent. When a Toda wishes to divorce his wife, he is summoned to appear before the panchayat, who may ask him to hand over from three to eight buffaloes, according to his wealth. If a Toda marries outside his community, he is thrown out of the tribe and never taken back.
Slowly, the way of life of these people is changing. The Tamil Nadu government has started tribal residential schools for Toda children that provide free education and from here some have even gone on to college. Toda huts are fast being replaced with brick houses.
The Todas cremate their dead. In the past, according to the status of the dead man, a number of buffaloes were killed in the belief that the spirit of the buffalo would accompany the deceased to the next world, where he could live in much the same way as on earth. However, the buffalo sacrifice was stopped by government order in 1964.
When a Toda male is cremated, the fire has to be lit by wood friction by a stick taken from the "kedz tree" ('scared firestick') but a female's pyre can be ignited with an ordinary stick or match. When a buffalo dies, it is not cremated.
The Todas live in "reserved" forest land. Ever since the British arrived in India, they began a slow but deliberate encroachment on their grazing ground and today they have hardly any fallow land left for their use. The little that was their when the British left, is now being lost to eucalyptus plantations. Should their grazing ground disappear, it could spell the total collapse of Toda culture and tradition which would indeed be the greatest tragedy of all, for the Todas are unique.
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, Telegu, Malayalam and others.
The Toda tribes are great poets and great singers. They have only one musical instrument, a flute, without finger stops which is made of hollow bamboo, called pooheeri but now it is almost a dead instrument and only a few Todas can play it.
Dresses and ornaments that these Toda tribes wear adds on to the beauty and glamour to a large extent. The Toda dress comprises of a single piece of cloth.