Baby Names Go Digital, Point Blank with Asian Weekly 6th May 2016

09 May

Baby Names Go Digital


The joy of having a baby is simply beautiful. He or she gives happiness not only to the parents, but grandparents, aunties, uncles, nieces, nephews, neighbors and so on. Babies give a lot of joy and pooh! That’s their job, so how about giving them a suitable name?

Traditionally almost all communities have a naming ceremony and each culture has their own ritual of selecting a name. For example in the Rajputs it is the honour of the paternal aunt to name her nephew, in the Sikhs we refer to the Guru Granth Sahib for at least two first letters, in Kerala the father whispers the name in the child’s ear and so on.

While these traditions still hold a special place worldwide still, another trend has been overtaking especially with the modern or urban parents. Our grandparents born in the 1900s or 1920s were named with complete traditional rituals and in some coincidences the father and son shared the same name. Then came our parents born in the 1950s and 1960s who while getting the same ritual, nearly all received similar names, for example in the Sikhs, if one name ended with “raj” or “deep” then most names followed suit. There was hardly much change when we were born in the 1980s.

It was the 1990s that brought a big change and was heavily influenced by Bollywood. As the names in the movies got trendier so did the new born babies, for example when Kuch Kuch Hota Hai released in 1998, so many baby boys were named Aman or Rahul, after the name Raj had already been popularized by Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. For the girls it was Simran and Kiran.

Since we didn’t have the worldwide web to refer to for new kind of names, we were following the Bollywood trends. Only nicknames remained the same, we still have the Sunnys, Chikus and Kikus.

The millennium kids, almost had a dot com to their name, but luckily they were saved. However the trend started to now make the names cross culture, for example a name like Tanya is more Arab and less Hindu, but girls were getting exotic names and boys were getting English names like Kian. While there might be traditional meanings to these names, at first sound they are not your regular Hindu or Sikh names. I believe the Islamic names have remained consistent with their tradition and you will hardly ever come across a non-Ali or non-Mohammed name. By the way, the pronunciations of the names also crashed in this time, the way you would say for example Vikas became “Veekas, or Vikash” and so on, this was mostly due to the increasing exposure to English language and staying abroad and picking up silly accents. Here I would blame parents for not making a point of teaching their children to say their name with pride and clarity. When the child hesitates so does his peers or bosses.

Coming down to recent times, the vanity of newborn babies has shot the silly heights of show off. Babies are having platinum status first birthday parties, designer wear clothes and are immediately thrown into a culture of pageantry. Very few parents who have the finances still choose to remain humble and real. Otherwise even middle class parents are in a race to win the Miss World or Mr Know It All –Good Looks pageant. This is ridiculous and when they want their child to stand out, they are going to extreme lengths to choose unique names for the child. For example in the US the trend is to pay up to $25,000 for an unusual name. This means you are treating your child like a brand who is going to earn you assets and fame. It is completely despicable.

How do you know what kind of personality your child is going to have? While most of the traits are going to come from the parents themselves there is no guarantee of how children are going to fare in the world when everything is at their fingertips. They are more informed and decisive already, they know pink color doesn’t suit them and that Nike is not what they want to wear, so by giving your children names that you are spending a fortune on is ridiculous. I also believe giving your child the name of a religious kind is not fair. This carries somewhat a responsibility they didn’t want to be of a certain kind and when they don’t turn out like a Gobind Singh or Shiva then there is unbiased criticism. Give your child a name close to your heart, keep the tradition in mind, because that will remind them where they come from, what is their culture and who they are expected to be. The rest is not in your hands.

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Posted by on May 9, 2016 in Uncategorized



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