India is a country with rich cultural heritage. The rituals and customs of various communities have made Indian history very significant and important. Many of the contemporary practices are derived and modified from the traditional practices. Indians go back and refer to their traditional practices for everything auspicious they plan to do or when something dreadful is about to happen. In either case, the beliefs that drive them are very sacred to the people and they perform them with great passion.
Whether it’s the architecture of their new home or determining the fortune according to the planetary movement or deciding what color to wear on which occasion, we Indians always have some or the other philosophy guiding our initiatives. From the moment a child is born, starting from her name to the various nuptial traditions, everything that has to do with the conventional practices the family follows. The various customs, with no substantial proof of their evolution, followed during a marriage ceremony have become mandatory these days.
Similarly, there are a lot of books, folklores, and epics in various regions, cultures, tribes pertaining to the newborns. Mothers usually put ‘teeka’ on their child’s face and tie a black thread around their wrists and ankles to guard their newborns against bad shadows.
According to Hindu mythology, a document called Janam Patrika (Birth Chart) is immediately maintained taking into account the position of the stars and planets at the time of birth of the child to decode the horoscope of the kid.
In this article, we are going to concentrate on what myriad customs and traditions different communities of India follow while naming their newborns. Even various states of the country have different stories and epics according to which the name of a child is kept. In some parts, some people have a different official name and birth name. In others, people consider the practice of adding a family name not a good idea. The different origins provide variety but also create confusion at the same time.
Naming Traditions in various Religions
What are Hindu Naming Traditions?
On the 12th day after the birth of the child, a Namkaran ceremony is conducted to name their newborn babies. The name is decided astrologically on the basis of the time and place of birth of the child. Traditionally, the father of the baby whispers her name in her ears before announcing officially to others. This name is usually called as the birth name and is written in the Janam Patrika of the baby.
What are Muslims Naming Traditions?
According to Islam, Aquiqa ceremony is carried out on the seventh day from birth to name the child. The name has to be an Islamic name and is decided by the parents. On the naming ceremony, a sheep is sacrificed as a part of the ritual. The food is distributed to the poor and needy.
What are Christian Naming Traditions?
The baby name is kept on the Christening ceremony of the child. The family members and friends are invited to the ceremony and parents make a welcoming speech for the kid. The Christian baby names are kept by the parents mutually.
What are Sikh Naming Traditions?
The naming ceremony in Sikhs takes place when the baby is around 6 weeks old usually in Gurudwara. The name is taken from the verse also called as Hukam from Guru Granth Sahib which decides the first letter of the name. The name constitutes of a first, middle and last name. The middle name distinguishes the gender. The name ‘Kaur’ is for females and ‘Singh’ for males.
What are Buddhist Naming Traditions?
The naming ceremony in Buddhists is carried out by inviting Bhikkhus and offering them food. The Bhikkhus leader name the child, already decided by the parents, which is preceded by a recitation of Buddhist Suttas called Parittas.
What are Parsi Naming Traditions?
A Chhathi ceremony is conducted on the 6th day after the birth of the child when the naming of the newborn is done. According to the tradition, a set of new clothes for the baby and a white paper and red pen is kept on the table. It is believed that Chatthi mai writes the destiny of the child on this day.
What are the Naming Patterns?
1) Birth Name –
This is the name given when a child is born on the basis of the date, time and place of birth of the child. My friend has her birth name as Indubala which her parents did not approve of and later named her as Supriya.
2) Given name –
Names like Amit, Rajiv, Sarah are the first names with which a person is called.
3) Family Name –
Often in many communities, the name of the child is given after the name of grandparents to pay homage to them. The boy child is named after their paternal grandfather, the second boy after the maternal grandfather and similarly a girl child is named after their grandmothers. Imagine the kind of chaos there would be if both the grandfathers have the same name.
4) Surname/Last name –
This is derived mostly from the caste or the region one comes from. It can also be derived from the occupation the family pursues. The example could be the surnames like- Ahluwalia comes from the place Ahlu, Sodabottleopernerwala has been derived from the family’s profession and Chauhan denotes Kshatriya caste.
5) Nickname –
‘Sweety’, ‘Manu’, ‘Gopu’, ‘Nikki’ are the nicknames, the family and close relatives affectionately call.
6) Relational Name –
The name that originates out of relation one has with the person. Older women are often referred to as ‘Auntie’ and older men are called as ‘Uncle’.
7) Official Name –
It is the name which constitutes of the family name, last name and which is put on the official documents. It has the full forms of the initials.
You can also read our another article about – 7 Things to Keep in Mind While Naming Your Baby
Additionally, you can go through our Checklist of things you should consider while giving name to your baby boy or baby girl –
Regional Naming Traditions in India
What are South Indian Naming Traditions?
In Tamil region, names like E.V. Ramasamy Naicker are kept where the Initial I is the Village name, Initial II (Father’s name), the Given name is followed by the Caste name.
In some of the Tamilian communities, the family names are given to the children in order to honor the grandparents.
The Telangana and Andhra Pradesh regions have the tradition of attaching the family profession or hometown name as the family name as Alluri Rama. Here the surname/family name is put before the first name.
In Kerala, people are named such as Arackaparambil Kurian Antony where the Family Name is specified first, followed by Father’s name and Given name.
The Malabar Muslims mix the local Malayali name with the Arabic name as Shihabuddin Todiyattu.
Kerala Christians name their kids as Jameskutty, Abrahamkutty by adding suffix kutty in their Christian names.
Also, the patronyms are very predominant in southern states where the first name of the father is added to the middle/last name of the child. For example, the child of Saravanan Ayer will be named as Krishnaswami Saravanan whose son will be named as Raman Krishnaswami and so on.
What are North Indian Naming Traditions?
North Indians name their kids as Sara Rais Khan and follows the format- Given name, Father’s name and Surname.
However, in Punjab, names like Harpreet Kaur Mattu and Karan Singh Grover is used where ‘Kaur’ and ‘Singh’ is used to differentiating the gender. Whereas the Jats, represent their clan name in their surname.
What are Naming Traditions in the Eastern States?
In Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim region, the conventional Bhutan culture is followed where two given names are assigned to people. No surnames are added. The personal names are usually named by Lamas. Most of the names of this region are common gender names.
The Garo community of Arunachal Pradesh follows a unique method of naming. The father with name Nito will name his son Topu, who will name his children as Pula, Puni and so on. Here, the first syllable of the kid’s name is derived from the last syllable of the father’s name.
Further, in Assam and Orissa, the family names are based on the professions.
What are Naming Traditions in the Western States?
In Gujarat, relational names are very prevalent. Out of affection, Kokila is called as Kokilaben and Kamlesh is called as Kamleshbhai. However, the family names are based on the trade or the ancestral place.
In Maharashtra, the family names end with ‘kar’ and ‘e’ such as Bidkar and Rahane.
The process does not end here. The pronunciation and articulation of these names are way more complex. The local semantic differences create a lot of difficulties for an outsider to comprehend with the names.
The best thing about Indian names is that they symbolize love and belongingness towards respective family, region, and culture. We may have different local legends and stories but we share a common historical evolution. The names, language, traditions are diverse but we are united at heart.