What’s in a name?

  • Sucharita Lahiri, None
  • Updated: Aug 23, 2014 12:00 IST

A prominent Hollywood star has named her daughter Sunday Rose. It may appear peculiar, as we Indians have a penchant for names. We have our fair share with Champa, Chameli ,Gulab or others of the fragrant kind but to prefix the day of the week before the name of a flower may seem a trifle weird or is it?

The tribals of Chotanagpur plateau name their daughters after the days of the week. It’s Etwari for Etwar or Sunday, Somwari for Somwar or Monday, Mangri for Mangalwaar or Tuesday and so on. Is it absurd that another Hollywood star has named her daughter North–West? Definitely not, considering that we have names based on the seasons .Don’t we have Chaiti, Baisakh or Hemant based on the seasons? I still don’t figure out why people favour English names for a dog even if they are of the desi kind!

Deciding the name of a school can be a gruelling exercise for some but not for all. How else can you explain Lord Shiva Convent School? Then there was another as Saint Alphonso School. It brings to mind the luscious mango or was Alphonso the saint who had bred the variety of the delectable fruit? Bless his soul!

My own good friend had decided to name her school Renaissaance considering the ‘change’ she wanted to bring about in the field of education. I thought it pertinent to inform her that the hoardings were incorrectly spelling her brainchild.Her answer struck me dumb. Her numerologists wanted three a’s for luck in her new venture and hence the slight alteration. “What about the students? Won’t they learn the wrong spelling?” said I aghast. “Oh! I’ll explain it to them,” said she without a flutter. And she wanted to stem the decline in education!

Mother had thought of my name before I had started with my education. In fact, she had thought of it right before my birth. My brother’s was likewise selected though he hated his name from childhood. He had grown particularly violent once before the start of the session. He wanted my mother to write his name as Manoj Lakhanpal on his set of new books .The next year he had decided on Raghuraj Chauhan. His names were written after he had dozed off.

My own daughter is Hamida Banu Begum. I wanted her to turn fat and stout like the boxer of yesteryear who bore the same name. I still remember two of my grandmas named Anna and China. I marvelled at the so very English Anna and thought that the other had been named after our powerful neighbour. It was much later that I learnt why they were so named. With contraception unknown, the seventh born Anna had actually been named as Arna, a Bengali word for ‘no more’. I guess God had turned a deaf ear to appeals and the eighth born was named Chaina, which roughly translated from Bengali means “don’t want”. Whether this plea went unheard I can’t verify.

Sometimes, the names are chosen for their sheer musical effect. How else can I explain that my old maidservant’s grand-daughter is Mother Dairy?

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