Choosing a baby name – Easier said than done
Asmantsu Tatra Chodyendra Raye Rabhsthavaha TuVidyumna Yashsthavaha
What do the above lines mean to you?
If you are a follower of/believer in the vedas, you would recognise the above as lines from rig veda and would start on trying the understand the meaning conveyed by the lines. If you are a quizzer, you would look at these lines as a probable source of esoteric questions which you as the quiz master would only ever know. But, if you are an expecting parent, then these lines would be a treasure trove of possible unpronounceable names which you would carefully note down in your “Big book of names for my baby”!
This is where Confuso-Kiddo-Name-o-graphy, the art of getting confused by writing down too many baby names, comes into the picture. Recently, my friends had a kid and when we visited them in the hospital, i saw a fat book lying beside the bed. On picking it up and looking inside (i didn’t see the cover), i saw lot of strange words and their meanings. I was wondering as to why she was reading Rosenblum’s word-list for GRE. Then, on seeing the cover , i realised that it was not the rosenblum book, but a book on Hindu baby names written by “I-shall-unlock-all-the-cages-in-zoos” Menaka Gandhi.
The book was in fact, more confusing that a GRE word list. I guess what Menaka would have done is to copy over the english transliterations of all the holy writings of Hinduism into Excel, then sorted them and then added a random meaning to each one of them. Well, a normal person wouldn’t anyway know what a name such as “Caksusa” really meant. He would just go by what is written in the book. It must be the easiest book she must have ever written!
Sometimes, being born an Indian has many disadvantages – for the parents. They have the unfortunate task of naming the child according to zillions of naming conventions. Imagine if the child is Cypriot, they have just few names like Andreas, Christos, Nicos and the feminine forms of them. So, it is pretty easy to choose amongst them. Parents who are a bit religious and want to do things the traditional way would rely upon numerology, the baby’s horoscope, vaastu (the location where the baby was delivered and the direction the mom was facing when delivering the baby) , vedic mathematics and few other dozen rules. After doing all the above calculations, if they end up with a restriction that the name should start with the letter “Q” or “X”, they immediately turn modern and name the child Pinky, Rocky, Sweety etc.
Americans have it easier still. They can name their children bush, gate, forest or based on practically any word taken from a regular dictionary. Take the case of Tiger Woods. Earl and Kutilda, tiger woods’ parents were going for a walk in the remote forests of Vietnam. Kutilda was heavily pregnant at that time. When they went around a corner, Earl suddenly saw what he thought was a tiger and yelled out “There is a tiger in the woods”. Kutilda went into a shock and delivered a healthy baby. Considering it a good sign, they named the child “Tiger Woods”.
Back to our case – We Indians have to consider a lot of things other than the above mentioned factors in naming a child.
- In today’s global village, we have to even consider how americans would react to the name. What if the name was “Manish Bhatt”. Americans would be talking about Manish’s butt whenever they refer to him. We can’t even name our kids with our favourites like Raghunathan Ramakrishnan or Somasundaram Pattabbiraman, as americans find it difficult to pronounce anything more than 2 syllables.
- We also have to think about the possible nicknames that could arise from the name when your kid goes to college. If there are many possible nicknames, rest assured that the one with the most vulgar meaning will be the one with which your child is christened in college.
- You also have to attend french classes, german classes and classes of few other popular languages to check if the name you have thought of doesn’t have any unintended meanings in these languages.
After all this confusion, many parents give up and name their kid some shit, i mean Samchit!
More enlightening stuff…