Names, Naming


It is Sunday night. Picking up after the kids this evening, I noticed Ammu’s school bag open. A folder lay half outside. I picked it up and smiled as I saw the project that they had worked on before start of school inside it. It had to do with a licence plate of sorts with letters and numbers that stood for something unique to them. As we worked on it, Ammu, Pattu and I, we found a way to sneak in that they were twins, their birthday and a part of their middle name. I put it back and zipped the bag up before stowing it away. Late at night, responding to comments, I realized I had promised to make a post out of a comment.

I have a fascination with names. Each time I hear about the birth of a baby, a new venture or a pet, my first question usually is “What is the name?” This stems from years of trying to understand mine. Questions about who I am and where I come from. I think of myself as creating wealth not necessarily the material kind. I think of prosperity. I think of all things good and happy. In a way, I think that my name is part of who I am and my personality.

Naturally, when it came time to name my children, I did not treat it lightly. I had one name in mind from early on in my marriage but since we were having twins and because they were of a different race, I had to rethink my whole idea. I wanted their names to reflect their birth heritage as well as the one in which they will be raised. I struggled with the ordering of the names. I wanted to retain what they had since birth yet I knew it would help my family to call them by names that were familiar to them. I wanted to stay away from religious underpinnings. I also did not want to saddle them with names that implied they had to live up to some character trait. I wanted the names to be short. I wanted the names to reflect the part of India I came from. As if this list was not enough, I wanted their names to be ones they could Anglicize or shorten and ones that could not be used to bully.

Tall order right? It took a surprisingly short while to come up with them. I went with Indian first names, retained their birth names as their middle names and used our surname. Ammu is a tribute of sorts, Pattu is the name of a river. I hope as they grow up, they straddle both their identities with the same ease as which they do their lives.

When Laddu came along, I went back to the very first name I heard and loved. I was not sure of its meaning but some digging around proved that it was perfect for her and for us. She is named for a raga. It is one that does not obey the rules. Unfettered is what I felt when I heard it and that is what I hope she will be. Her middle name is a tribute to my mother in law. By naming my child after her, I hope she will live on in our midst.

So, do you have a naming story to share? I’d love to hear.


  1. I think I have told you about how Amma always wanted to name me whatever I am named :). Name of a Goddess in Lalitha Sahasranamam. I like my name though Amma feels she should have used the name that comes after mine in the shloka. For kiddo I wanted another name while P wanted this. Since I chose the middle name I let him take the first. Kiddo’s middle name is my grandpa’s. Hoping he imbibes the good of what my grandpa was & let the man live on with me in a small way.
    Saying this my brother was named after the God of Tirupati as Amma had to go there when she was late in her pregnancy after a failed one. She was not given a choice hence she decided to name my brother so as a thanks for the child.

  2. I am fascinated by names too. Spent long hours pouring over what to name my little one. In the end, we narrowed down to two names. And when she was born we picked one of the names without any debate at all. We weren’t even sure why we short listed the other!! Also I did not give my little one a middle name for the sake of simplicity…. Wish I had though.

    During her naming ceremony, we wrote seven names for her and I remember and treasure those names too since each has a story behind how it came to be written on the floor heaped with rice grains.

    • Thank you Kripa for stopping by. Naming is such a fascinating topic right? There is so much we pass on to our children through their names. A connection to our family, our heritage and a sense of history.

  3. Names are such special part of welcoming a child into a family. I have always researched meanings and we chose names that was a variation of a relative we love.

  4. Aparajith is a character of a children’s movie i was dreaming of making about a boy who sees through a magic glass. I had come up with that when i was expecting him, hoping it to be a reminder…

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