Malayali Names

There is an old joke which says that the Chinese name their children after the sound made by a steel dish falling to the floor. Young as I was, I felt sorry that someone needed to introduce himself as Clang Clang because his parents chose to drop a steel plate instead of a hollower dish which might have produced better sounds.

However much the Chinese method of naming shocked me, nothing prepared me for naming conventions closer home. Keralites have the most unique ways of naming their children.

To show their antecedents – Keralites believe that a child is a reflection of the parents and this starts with the name.

One method is to take the first halves of the names of the parents and join them to form the child’s name. For instance, Sheila and Jose ensure that their names are carried into the next generation by naming their child Shijo. Binsi is the result of the union of Bindu and Simon.

Another popular method is to use the second half of the parents’ names. Sebastian and Nancy thus name their daughter Ancy. This method combined with the previous one ensures that all the children can have colorful names.

As a commemoration – Luna shares her name with a moped for no other reason that the fact that she chose to enter the world round about the time her father was able to afford one.

The prize for saddest story of a commemorative name must go to Fridgy. My first thought was that it was a cruel joke, since the girl was on the heavier side. However, I was later reassured that it wasn’t a joke but that she was named so as the family has bought their first refrigerator (fridge in India) in the same month as Fridgy was born. The size came later.

Descriptive – At 3 months all kids are babies, but some parents feel the need to emphasize that fact and hence name the child accordingly. So we now have 40+ year olds who when you ask them their name say, “Baby”. If that is a laugh, what would you say to a guy weighing 90 kgs and over 6 feet in height who introduces himself as Tiny?

Miscellaneous – This one I don’t know where to add. I personally know a pair of brothers who go by the names ‘Dalu’ and a ‘Dal’. Fortunately the parents stopped there, imagine having to go through life with a name like ‘Da’!!!


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