Indian Baby Names 2.0

Monday, October 20, 2008

Naming a child has always been a thorny enterprise. How do you put all of the love, hope and meaning of having a baby into one name that will identify your spawn for life? It's hard enough to do. But for our generation of Indians brought up and living in the West, it's even more challenging. We want to come up with names that can be enunciated by maitre d's and grandmothers alike, but that have a beautiful, deep meaning.

We can all think of names that were mauled by grade school teachers and/or taunted by fifth-grade bullies. (To all the "Anils" and "Hardiks" out there, I apologize on behalf of your parents.) I’m thankful that I don’t have that problem. My father got my name from a Bollywood hit song which had the lyric, "Monica, oh my darling…." Even though I’ve received my fair share of "What's your Indian name? Your real name?" comments, I'm still grateful to Asha Bhosle for singing that song. But for all the Indian Monicas I know, my name remains a firmly western one – never possessing a Sanskrit or Persian root or meaning, therefore never fully incorporated into the naming culture of the subcontinent and its diasporas.

Aiming to meet those two naming objectives -- pronounceable yet profound -- some of us have become creative. We’ve searched books and websites for names that have crossover appeal, and found names like Milan, Maya, Dhillon, Tara, Krishan, Devin, Roshan, Amaya. It's also important to us that people pronounce these names with the accent on the right syllable, engendering a set of names with double a's (Armaan, Aadesh, Kaayva).

Others have gone as far west as possible without alienating grandparents: Jay, Neil, Sara, Julie, Sophie. Still others have stuck to pronounceable classics: Arjun, Anjali, Shreya, Krishna.

Certain names are probably lost to us forever. Like all those lovely, funny names of our ancestors. I doubt I'll receive an email announcing the birth of Saraswati, Suryakant, Sushrata or Satinder any time soon. I'll probably never seriously entertain the thought of naming my child after my grandmother, Sulochna, or my grandfather, Shantilal. It's too bad, because those names have such gorgeous meanings: Sulochna means beautiful eyes, and Shantilal means peaceful.

The problem is, there are only so many pronounceable-yet-profound names. Thus, the glut of similar names -- I've lost count of how many Anyas and Akashes I know. And, of course, you have to stay away from names chosen by close friends and family. (Why did I name my cousin's son "Devin"? Now I won't be able to use it!)

But still, I'm glad no one is resorting to "Peter" or "Rebecca" just yet.
17 comments:
sital said...

I changed the spelling of my name in 3rd grade because of this. Parents, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU NAME YOUR CHILD.

Anonymous said...

Do you have any more ideas for baby name websites? All the ones out there have thousands of names on them. There's never enough time to go through all the names.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of the episode of the brit sit com "goodness gracious me" when there's a board meeting full of desis and they have a difficult time prouncing jonathon but jagganath is easy for them. they then go on to ask jonathon about the meaning of the time, and how interesting it sounds despite being difficult to pronounce.

since we are already 1/6th of the planet, i think there should be a cencerted effort to name our children the most complicated desi names possible.

Anonymous said...

I'm reminded of the episode of the brit sit com "goodness gracious me" when there's a board meeting full of desis and they have a difficult time prouncing jonathon but jagganath is easy for them. they then go on to ask jonathon about the meaning of the name, and how interesting it sounds despite being difficult to pronounce.

since we are already 1/6th of the planet, i think there should be a cencerted effort to name our children the most complicated desi names possible.

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monica said...

I don't know of any really great baby-naming websites, but try this if you haven't: ask your friends to suggest some names. tell them what your parameters are. they know you and your tastes, so you may end up with a shortlist you like.

Anonymous said...

devis:

'But still, I'm glad no one is resorting to "Peter" or "Rebecca" just yet.'

ever considered calling your daughter 'monica jr?' i'm glad that we've not plumbed to those levels yet.

- s.b.

Anonymous said...

Those Indian name sites are HORRIBLE. Somebody should make a more user-friendly one, that is ultimately comprehensive and searchable. There's money there to be SURE!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Sonali & Chetan said...

We had a poster board up at our baby shower for guests to write down name suggestions for our b/g twins. They came up with a lot of great names! We had also put our top choices on their and they could put a check next to it if they liked it. It was fun to read all teh suggestions! Of course...we didn't use any of them :)
Great blog, btw!

baby names list said...

That's why we should be careful on what name we are going to give to our child. Let us think that it is very precious.

Buy Kamagra said...

That is interesting I'd like to find one for my child, because those kind of letters are perfect, in fact I made him a tattoo with some letters like those, some people could think that's not ok but this is my style of living. Viagra Online Cheap Viagra

Anonymous said...

Nice Blog

Baby Names said...

Great blog. Here Providing more unique baby Names from Indian Baby Names

Rajaditya Singh said...

you can also get top class list of unique girl baby names

Marissa Paul said...

Thanks for sharing.
Nicely described, I found some more variety here in http://www.babynology.com/indian_babynames.html

thegreataman said...

Truly gorgeous baby names for Indians. I am impressed with your thoughts and the write up. Good job! People that have been seeking suggestions for Hindu baby names ideas then I would highly recommend this website http://www.babynology.com/hindu-boynames-m0.html.

Mahima Sri said...

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