Yesterday As I was working out some plots for my next children’s book (yes..giving that away), it occurred to me that it is time we gave a second look at the way we name our children.
By giving a child a name only associated with the father, what message are we directly or indirectly conveying to him or her about the role of his or her mother, and also that of a woman when she becomes a mother. I remember as a child wondering about this. Why does my name only have Govindan in it and not Balamani, my mother’s name.
By looking at my name today, noone can even know if I have a mother or had a mother, when that is an obvious fact because I am born of her, yet she will never be known from my name. Don’t you think it is very strange that nowhere in the world a woman’s name is officially part of her children’s name, and we are talking about gender rights, violence towards women, etc.
Her existence is invisible – she is the silent mother. That is a learning we have acquired from years of British rule and prior to that Islamic rule and also, patriarchal faces of the Hindu religion. Even in Mahabharatha the children were referred more by their mother’s name than the fathers. Mostly because in those days women chose who she wanted to spend her life with, and she only had the right to disclose the name of her child’s father. What she said was never questioned.
So I ask of you – why can’t the coming generation engaging in balanced partnerships of hetero or homo gendered relationships include both parent name while naming their children. Just thinking it aloud! Yeah, it can be a little long but imagine the stories these names will tell.
Let me take my name for example. I will be
K. P. Rekha Balamani Nambiar Govindan Kurup
There is a strong piece of history attached to my name now. It has both my parents names, their sub clans and even more importantly, based on the Nayar tradition, my matrilineal ancestry as well. Ok, here is a breakdown for you.
K.P is the matrilineal clan home or taravad name that goes all the way back to my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s and so on. It connects me to so many generations back with family through the mother line. Of course, my father’s clan name will be different from mine.
Balamani is my mother’s name. Govindan is my fathers name.
Nambiar and Kurup are two sub clans of the Nayars which played distinctly different roles in the society.
The Nambiars were generally associated with the temples, strict about their diet leaning towards more vegetarianism, stayed away from alcohol. I call them the indoor (in the sense associated with temples, puja, etc) light skinned, light haired even, bright radiant Satwik people.
The Kurups on the other hand were staunch Warriors, associated with the Kings and governing body of the land. The Kurups had huge kalaris or martial art arena for teaching Kalaripayattu. They practiced animal sacrifices, ate meat, and even drank toddy with pride. Kurups were the earth based, many shiningly dark-skinned, dark haired, dark eyed radiant rajasic beings.
Both the ancestry of Nambiar and Kurup is in me. In fact I think I am more my fathers daughter – definitely a warrior. Thanks to my spiritual path, I can now also access the deeply spiritual aspects of my being and dissolve into infinity and prayer with ease.
So don’t you think my name should be able to tell that story!
Aren’t we all walking legends with stories hiding away In every nook and corners of our bodies. Can’t a small part of it reflect in my name!
Most importantly, can’t my birth-giving mother be visibly and directly be part of my name. What better way to honor her !
Can’t we atleast talk about it with each other.
Don’t you think it is time!