This retired BARC scientist collects ‘unusual’ names | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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This retired BARC scientist collects ‘unusual’ names

Gajanan Wamanacharya (78) was often wondered about the origin of his long surname. He soon began to notice that he was not the only one with an unusual surname.

mumbai Updated: Oct 14, 2010 02:55 IST
Sadaf Modak

Gajanan Wamanacharya (78) was often wondered about the origin of his long surname. He soon began to notice that he was not the only one with an unusual surname.

“I realised then that people have surnames that make them objects of ridicule for life. Yet such surnames remain a part of their identity and are retained for generations,” said the retired BARC scientist who has compiled a list of around 60,000 Maharashtrian surnames by noting down those mentioned in newspapers, almanacs and electoral lists since 1963.

He has now organised a Marathi Aadnaav Sudhar Samiti Sabha and will help people get rid of surnames, which are drawn from names of animals, vegetables, food items, colours, clothes, household objects, body parts, or even human habits. “Not much can be found on the origins of surnames like Kutre, Dukre or Pothdukhe, and many such which range from being funny, weird and even obscene. Some could have been enforced during the time of the durbari system where the locals were made fun of the locals to appease the king,” added

Wamanacharya, who has written many satirical pieces on the awkward situations such surnames create when applying for an interview or looking for a bride.

He is also writing a book on the same issue addressing a more serious reason to shun such surnames.

“I have heard of cases were children were bullied for having surnames which hold no meaning today. Some are based on the occupation of an ancestor and some could have had a different meaning in olden times but today are awkward, to say the least. It need not be as difficult as changing one’s religion.”