Hethai Abba - The Pride of Badugas

For all the badugas, the hethai abba is a very important festival. The hethai amman is the prime God for badugas and this article registers my experience when I visited the hethai abba yesterday Remeber that this was my first visit and the festival took me by surprise. Badugas are nature worshipers who do not essentially believe in idol worship. For them, the stones and trees are as sacred as their belief in a supreme being. The most striking features of this festival were the ones that triggered this article.

The Madihadda:

Adda means a green valley in which cultivation is not done. Instead the little streams are preserved for local population and the land is mostly used for the relaxation of cattle. The hethai abba took place in one such location. The ground covers a huge area in the middle of which there is a huge temple. The hethai kallu ( mostly seen as the guardian of a village) is placed in the entrance of the temple. The belief here is that sacred stone will protect the whole village from all evil and bring prosperity to all. There is no baduga village without a ethai kallu.

The temple:

The temple does not have an idol for worship. Instead, it has the hethai thadi (walking stick) and the kode ( the sacred umbrella) which are the objects of worship. Badugas from all over the world come to worship there. Prayers are offered in terms of rice, ghee, fruits and the like. Holy chants are chanted when the holy objects are taken out for a routine for all to pray for a short while.

White Magic:

The specialty of this function is that everyone is required to wear costumes in white. The gents wear white shirt, a white dhoti and a white angavastravam ( a towel over the shoulder), the ladies wear sarees and salwars and cover themselves with a white mundu ( draped across the shoulder). It is such a beautiful sight to behold. The white sea of people against the green valley and the blue skies is beyond imagination.

The Paruva:

Badugas are basically peace loving. The traditional annadhanam (food for all) is performed and the entire crowd takes its place at the food line without the slightest fuss. The food is consumed with much relish and gratitude as the devotees feel blessed for having witnessed the grand ceremony of the temple.

The Divine Blessing:

It is said that the white eagle always comes on this day to bless the devotees present at the temple. The eagle soaring forward and backward spreading its majestic wings is such a blessed sight. Surprisingly there are no crows even when there are a lot of food offerings.

There is a lot of folklore around the baduga community with respect to hethai abba. Though one wishes to know the entire truth, there are so many modified versions of such festivals that one finds it difficult to believe all yet believe none. Nevertheless, the grandeur and devotion involved in the ceremony leaves us with no doubt with respect to the power of the temple and the unquestioning faith of the badugas. All in all, it was an awesome experience, one that I would cherish to tell my children.

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