Baby Names

What’s in a name? Plenty!

Identity, class, religion and language to name just a few. As if this list isn’t enough to complicate the lives of the new parents, they now have to face the fact that their children are going to be raised in the USA and therefore need names that are easy to pronounce and those that will not be made fun of.

Short and sweet names are the best bet to get along for children at American schools. Imagine a lovely Indian name like Kshitij, which means horizon, pronounced by a non Indian. It is named with good intentions but is not practical. Because, I can easily see it being defaced into k-shit- something. And now imagine the little boy who has to spend the rest of his life with a name like that, teased at school, being asked by teachers and neighbors how to pronounce it each time the child is introduced. A wrong name can lead to a loss of self-esteem and poor social skills.

What names are acceptable globally?

Short names that don’t have religious implications are better suited in a global environment. This may sound unpleasant to many Indians who are very conscious of their identity, but why would you want to risk your child’s future by naming her Seetha-lakshmi-soundarya-lahari when you can simply name her Lahari. Vijayalakshmi is too long, shorten it to Jaya, Vijaya or Laxmi. The longer the name, the more trouble you have with its pronunciation.

Shreyanjali can be shortened to Anjali, which is very easy for Americans to pronounce as it is close to Angel. Shreya can be a tough exercise in pronunciation for Americans. Even a common Indian name like Aishwarya can be baffling for the Americans. Try Asha or Ashwini instead.

Generally men seem to get away with easy names like Hari, which is similar to Harry. Thanks to the Hare-krishna trend, every American is now familiar with Krishna, also it is similar to Chris.

Go with the least cultural resistant names If it appears that now we are naming our kids with the American in mind, hey that is the consequence we have to pay for globalization. The trick is to say the name aloud as an American would say it, if it is not degrading, and does not sound funny, go ahead with it. Names such as Mala, Rita, Tara, vani and Raju, Ram, Rohan and Biju encounter the least cultural resistance where as names like Aahlaadith, Achyuta, shashank and Sacchidananda will not be easy on the American tongue.

There are many baby names available on the Internet today, especially names that sound very fashionably high brow and Sanskritized but may not be very practical in day to day life. Remember, it is your child who will live with the name. Think from the child’s perspective instead of only from your angle. Give him a name that he will be proud of, and not a name for which he will curse you for the rest of his life.

Happy nama-karnam err Christening !


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