We are living in a Global family, conquering distance and continents and living beyond our own locus of cultural heritage. We keep moving from place to place, country to country and even continents to continents. With all respect to our own heritage and practices we want to live in far off
places, far removed from India and practice our obligations to our religious, cultural and language requirements. Such requirements are more personal and do not get affected by living as an alien in a different nation. However, when we interact with the persons of the nation we live in and have business or professional dealings with them we have to have a different identity which has to be in consonance with the most popularly followed format. In this process it has become necessary to have
our names to be selected to go in consonance with the globally practiced version. Sadly enough we do not have our names in any format. Leaving alone the persons of the older generation, even the persons of the younger generation who spend a lot of time scrolling through the web and searching through many books in Sanskrit, Tamil etc. do not select a full name for their children that conforms to the format.
The need for different names for any individual comes from the need to identify the person more clearly and without ambiguity. In the globally recognized format there are three names for every individual—the First Name, the Family or surname or Last Name and the Middle Name (also
called the middle initial). If the British call it Surname, the Americans prefer to call it Last Name, though both refer to the same and mean the same. These last names were historically based on occupation, place, geography, social status, honorifics given by the state etc. In the olden days we used to have names like Iyer, Iyengar, Chettiar, Naidu etc. though they referred to a particular caste/clan and not necessarily a family. That would have sufficed the need for a Surname. At some point of time in our history we decided to cut and throw it due to political demand. The need for a separate family name is still there and will still be there.
Some of us do a quick‐fix to sort out the problem. The tendency is to expand the initial/s and call it the Last Name. In a majority of the cases the initial represents the name of the father of the individual (if with one initial). All is well as long as the individual continues to be unmarried. Once he/she gets married, the spouse (to mean the wife here) has to change her Last Name to go with that of her husband’s Last name. This brings in a very strange and delicate situation, looking back at the Last name of the lady in the Indian context. Whereas the Last name may refer to the family in a foreign country, in our Indian context it refers to her husband. How strange will it be if the father‐in law is synonymous with the husband? As though not done with it, the individual is all the time referred in the name of his father. How odd will it be when the son is addressed in the name of his father, while in the company of his father!
Needless to say that we have to move with the way the world moves when we move around it. We have to find a solution to sort out the issue and have names to ourselves and our progeny to identify fully with the norms followed everywhere. This note may be considered to open up a forum to put in various views to find a unique solution which when finalized will conform to the international norm, at the same time preserving our own cultural identity. One suggestion is to revert back to Iyer, Iyengar etc. for the Last name but with its own consequences in India throwing the individuals in to utter disadvantage under the existing political opportunism and turmoil.
One immediate objection for this change may be the hassle of going through the legal formalities of making a notorized affidavit and publishing the ‘name change’ through newspaper etc. Considering the long‐term advantage it is worth going through the exercise once in life time. Needlessto say that ladies have to do it after the marriage and why not men.
It is high time to think on this issue and get consensus among the family members.
Present methodology of mentioning names.
A personal name is the proper name identifying an individual person, and today usually comprises a given name bestowed at birth or at a young age plus a surname. It is nearly universal for a human to have a name; the rare exceptions occur in the cases of mentally disturbed parents, feral children growing up in isolation, or infants orphaned by natural disaster of whom no written record survives. The Convention on the Rights of the Child specifies that a child has the right from birth to a name.
Naming conventions are strongly influenced by culture, with some cultures being more flexible on naming than others. However, for all cultures where historical records are available, the naming rules are known to change over time.
A given name is a personal name that specifies and differentiates between members of a group of individuals, especially in a family, all of whose members usually share the same family name (surname). A given name is a name given to a person, as opposed to an inherited one such as a family name. In most European countries and in countries that have cultures predominantly influenced by Europe (such as individuals with European heredity who populate North and South America, Australia, New Zealand, etc.), the given name usually comes before the family name (though generally not in lists and catalogs), and so is known as a forename or first name. But in many cultures of the world — such as that of Hungary, various cultures in Africa and most cultures in East Asia (e.g. China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam) — given names traditionally come after the family name. In East Asia, even part of the given name may be shared among all members of a given generation in a family and the family's extensions, to differentiate those generations from other generations.
Under the common Western naming convention, people generally have one or more forenames (either given or acquired). If more than one, there is usually a main forename (for everyday use) and one or more supplementary forenames. But sometimes two or more carry equal weight. Beyond the fact that forenames come before the surname there is no particular ordering rule. Often the main forename is at the beginning, resulting in a first name and one or more middle names, but other arrangements are quite common.
Given names are often used in a familiar and friendly manner in informal situations. In more formal situations the surname is used instead, unless it is necessary to distinguish between people with the same surname. The idiom "on a first-name basis" (or "on first-name terms") alludes to the fact that using a person's given name betokens familiarity.
A child's given name or names are usually assigned around the time of birth. In most jurisdictions, the name at birth is a matter of public record, inscribed on the birth certificate or equivalent. In some jurisdictions, mainly civil-law jurisdictions such as France, Quebec, the Netherlands or Germany, the functionary whose job it is to record acts of birth may act to prevent parents from giving the child a name that may cause him or her harm (in France, by referring the case to a local judge). Even spell-checking of the name is done.
Persons born in one country who immigrate to another with different naming conventions may have their names legally changed accordingly.[ If the name is not assigned at birth it may be assigned at a naming ceremony with families and friends attending.
In 1991, in protest of Swedish naming laws, two parents attempted to name their child Brfxxccxxmnpcccclllmmnprxvclmnckssqlbb11116, claiming that it was "a pregnant, expressionistic development that we see as an artistic creation.".
Indian family names are based on a variety of systems and naming conventions, which vary from region to region. Names are also influenced by religion and caste and may come from religion or epics. India's population speaks a wide variety of languages and nearly every major religion in the world has a following in India. This variety makes for subtle, often confusing, differences in names and naming styles. For example, the concept of a family name did not exist widely in Tamil Nadu.
For many Indians, their birth name is different from their official name; the birth name starts with a letter auspicious on the basis of the person's horoscope. Some children are given one name (a given name). In communities that don't use family names, the third name can be a god's name, or the grandfather's or grandmother's name, depending on the sex of the child. Many children are given two names sometimes as a part of religious teaching, and "Velanati" and "Telaganya" indicate the ancestral places of their origin. These are used for sub caste identification and not necessarily used routinely as part of a person's official name or daily use name.
Due to caste-based discrimination or to be caste-neutral, many people started adopting generic last names such as Kumar. Film stars such as Rajkumar (Kannada Film legend), Dilip Kumar, Manoj Kumar and, more recently, Akshay Kumar have adopted Kumar as their last names for marketing reasons. As Kumar became too common, people adopted names such as Ranjan and Anand as their surnames.
Some English occupational nouns have also passed into surname usage, with surnames such as Engineer. Rajesh Pilot, an Indian ex-minister, adopted his surname after a stint in theIndian Air Force.
Few people, in hundreds, have started to name their children after international personalities. Most of the time, the surname is used as a first name, like Einstein, Churchill, Kennedy,Beethoven, Shakespeare etc., and tend to denote the parents' political affiliations. This practice is particularly prevalent in Goa and Tamil Nadu. Examples of names like these are Churchill and his brothers, Roosevelt B. Alemao and Kennedy B. Alemao from Goa and M.K. Stalin and Napoleon Einstein from Tamil Nadu. As in Western societies, parents are beginning to experiment with uncommon names, or are using words that aren't usually considered names, like Proton Padmanabhan, Alpha Jyothis and Omega Jyothis, as well asNeon and Iodine. Hundreds of people are using these names in India.
Last names in South India:
Andhra Pradesh - Language spoken - Telugu
Sowmya Barlapudi, Vokshani Priya Sigireddi , Sirugudi, Chandamalla, Mamuduri, Kodhati, Jakkala, Pillarishetty, Appani, Gayam, Jasti, Vemulapalli, Anumula, Asuri, Nallanchakravarthula, Alaparthi, Gunti,Danaboyina, Paila ,Ethrouthu, Boini, Ankem, Karnati, Kalluri, Medam, Ginjupalli, Kavuri, Kondragunta, Thupalli, Raavi, Mandava, Chiguluri, Mukkamala, Musunuri, Gurram, Yarlagadda, Anantaneni, Ponna, Gollapinni, Anumolu, Bulusu, Bhagavatula, Chaganti, Chaparala, Cherukuri,Garudadri, Mullapudi, Gollapudi,Tanikella, kovelamudi,
Sripada, Vempati, Nutulapati,Nomula, Davuluri,Vemuri, allu, alluri, Tunuguntla,Thanneeru,Lakamalla,Thalari,Marri,Pati,Akula,Banoth,Meka,Ramavath,chinthamalla Munnangi, Mamidala, Mandaloju, Sreegiri, Srishti, Vundavalli, Ragampudi, Murthy, Prasad, Mutyala, Pinnamaneni, Pendyala, Panuganti, Ponnala, Galli, Chebrolu, Nidumolu, Gundapaneni, Malladi, Achanta, Yellapragada, Akkineni,Gandhamaneni,BellamKonda,Kakumani, Madanu, Goud, Raju, Reddy, Rao, Ray, Rai Gunda, Gupta, Charugundla, Chowdary,tulabandu, Vakalapudi, Sastri, Yadav, Sharma, Thota, Munnur Kaapu, Naidu, Naayak, Maadiga, Mudiraj, Padmashali, Prasad,Eguri, Pasala, Rajendra Prasad, Kumar, Babu, Sheikh, Sridhar, Abdul, Mohammed, Rebbapragada ,Chagantipati, Gorthi, Damarsingh, Kshirsagar
Commonly found middle names are naga, tirumala, venkata, subramanya, Kumar, reddy, rama etc.
Karnataka - Languages spoken - Kannada/Tulu//Konkani/Marathi
Anchan/Hullathi/Malgi, Jammihal, Srividyadhare Kateel, Savitha, Chandrashekara, Poojari or Poojary, Kotian,Suvarna, Salian, Kunder, Kukian, Karkera, Baily, Shrian, Naik, Nairi, Papanashi, Bhadranavar, Chetti, Hukkeri, Jamakhandi, Sonnad, Sannakki, Kanthi, Sinnur, Sukali, Kulkarni, Patil, Putsetra, Mayachari, Sangati, Chikkatumbal, Halemani, Hosamani, Dharawadkar, Doddamni, Jadhav, Madivalar, Hiremath, Jituri, Benakannakarvar, Torath, Talwari, Jakkannavar, Kogilagaddi, Ponarkaar, Noorkhan, Kodhanch, Bellubbli, Lohar, Basidoni, Kabadagi, Jalageri, Mallammanavar, Giddananavar, Menashinakayi, Ullagaddi, Bhajentri, Nadkarni, Nadig, Nadgir, Rao, Nayak, Gaonkar, Rai, Shetty, Heggade, Alva, Dhore, Raya, Gondkar, Huded, Datanal, Kallanagowdar, Moily, Marigodar, Wali, Walishettar, Dundur, Dixit, Dasar, Kumbar, Jolad, Hoskeri, Hubli, Uppin, Bapakar, Badni, Badanikai, Hanchinal, Karanth, Holla, Aithal, Athani, Turamri, Gourishetty, Hurkadli, Akki, Kalal, Chatnis, Khatawakar, Bargi, Kadni, Kabboor, Reddy, Yadav, Dasegouda, Bhandarkar, Padki, Dasannanavar, Simi, Belgavi, Naravatte, Navalagi, Bellad, Malagi, Shettar, Goudar, Gowda, Hegde, Udupa, Handhe, Shasthri, Kamath, Shanbhag, Shanubhogue, Murthy, Aithal, Hebbar,Bangera, Shenoy, Tantry, Pai, Upadhya, Prabhu, Kini, Bijapur, Veerapur, Devarmani, Gangannavar, Kattimani, Math, Tatpatti, Akkur, Jambagi, Khavatekar, Beedi, Zalaki, Hallur, Negalur, Hondadakatti, Itagi, Koluvailu, Hosagrahara, Naregal, Paramshetti, Kanthi, Iyengar, Padukone, Lingayat Setty, Pandit, Puthran, Nayaka, Anna, Swami, Eshwar, Bahudur, Deshpande, Wodeyar, Prasad, Rao, Sheshadri, Shet, Raikar, Revenkar, Vernekar, Hosmath, Anvekar, Bargali, Barigali, Kadakol, Godkhindi, Panchamukhi, Kudva, Radhakrishna, Hampannavar
Kerala - Language spoken - Malayalam
Abhijath, Achari, Adikal, Adiyodi, Alex, Abraham, Akkara, Anthony, Anto, Asaan, Alapatt, Bhattathiri, Chakyar, Chacko,Channar, Chazhukaran, Chekavan, Chekavar, Chovan, Eradi,Ezhuthachan, Ilayath, Jiju, Kaimal, Kani, Kanikkar Kartha,Konikara, Kurukkal, Kurup, Kutty, Kunju, Marar, Menon, Moosad, Moothan, Menachery, Nair, Nambeesan, Nambi, Nambiar,Namputiri, Nayanar, Nayar, Nedungadi, Palatty, Pandala, Panikkar, Payankan, Pillai, Pisharadi, Porathur, Pothuval, Pulikkottil,Pulickal, Samoothiri, Sharma, Thampi, Unni, Unnithan, Unnithiri, Vaidyan, Vaidyar, Valiathan, valiyaveetil, Valodi, Variar,Varma.
Tamil Nadu - Language spoken - Tamil
Achari, Chettiar, Fernandes, Gounder, Iyengar, Iyer, Udayar, Moopanar, Kuyavar, Kudumban, Lebbai, Maraikayar, Mudaliar, Nadar, Naicker, Pillai, Prabakar, Poobalarayar, Rowther, Thevar, Vellalar, Vishwakarma, Ambalakarar, Thondaiman, Adigaman,Malayaman, Paluvettaraiyar Vallavaraiyar, Sethurayar, Thanjaraayar, kurusar, Pallavaraayar, Vandayar, Etrandaar, Vaanavaraayar, Servai, Thevar, Soma Naicker, Muniyarayar, Kallathil Venrar, Nattar, Manrayar, Cholagar, Chozhangaraayar, Kandiyar, Mazhavaraayar, Srinivasan, Subramaniam, Ramachandran, Chari, Venkatraman, Chandrasekar, Venkatramanan, Raman, Krishnamurthi, Raja.
For a long time, South Indians had a simple naming system. Historically, everyone was given a single name, which was chosen on the basis of one of three possible ways:
§ The name of their village/town, e.g. Singri (singiri), Bangalore, Udyavara, Chitti, Kular, Chavali, Inkollu, Hattiangdi, Janaswamy, Hubli, Kokradi, Mangalore, etc.
§ Their family/clan name, e.g. Pulithevar, Sahonta
§ Caste name, eg. Iyer, Rao, Nair
In Karnataka, the naming convention is given name, father's name (Middle name), last name (Can reflect Sir name, family name, place, occupation etc.). manjunatha, Muralidhar, Venkatesha, Raghava, Radha Krishna Murthy, Raghavendra, Ramesh,B.Jayappa, Shayle mallappa, K mallappa, Kantharajappa Vishwanath are some common names for men. For women names such as Bhagya, Bhagyalakshmi, Lakshmi, Shylaja, Manasa, Meera, Shanthala, Seeta, Uma, Gayathri,Chaitra are all common names. It is customary for wife to take on husband's surname or last name, to reflect symbolic change in them moving out of father's house and becoming part of the husband's family. Man is the head of the household.
In villages and away from city sometimes initials precede a given name. For example, Kagodu Bairappa Timmappa (village, father, given name). Sometimes only village name precedes their given name. Some names explicitly mention affiliation to a family. For example, Pasharara Kolli (Kolli of Pashara family), Naigodara Kanni (Kanni of Naigod family).
In Kerala, the standard procedure was Family name-Given name-Caste/title name (if applicable). Therefore Kannoth Karunakaran Maarar, can interpreted as Karunakaran of the Maarar caste from the Kannoth family. Since Kerala was a feudal society before the mid-20th century, most Keralites belong to a clan, unlike other parts of South India. Those who do not belong to a caste that received a title, such as fisherment, and labourers would simply have their family name followed by their given name, eg. Vayilparambu Manoharan. Today, the traditional format of naming has started to change and the father's first name is sometimes used as a last name, in accordance with other South Indian communities. Among Christians in Kerala, it is a common practice to have a second given name (middle name) which is the baptismal name, usually the first name of a grandparent or godparent, like Roshni Mary George and Anoop Antony Philip. some examples: yogeshwar nair
Many South Indians use the name of their ancestral hometown, or the family profession as the last name or family name. In this case sometimes the surname is placed before the given name. Some Tamil people have both a village name and a caste name as part of their name, for instance Madurai Mani Iyer. Here, Madurai is a town and Iyer is a caste. Many Keralites especially Syrian Christians use as the "tharavaad", a description of their ancestral home. Names like Pramod Perumparambil and Paul Chemmanoor fall under this category.
There is also widespread usage of a patronymic: use of the father's given name as the second name. This means that the given name of one generation becomes the second name of the next. In many cases, this second name is used as an initial and the given name may appear like a second name. For example a name like "Ajith Abraham" means "Ajith son of Abraham". If Ajith then has a son named Ashvin, then his name would be Ashvin Ajith.
It is common for Tamil women to adopt their husband's given name as a second name. Sunitha Gopalan (Sunitha daughter of Gopalan) might change her name to Sunitha Rajiv (Sunitha wife of Rajiv) after marriage. Some South Indians use an inverted patronym. For example, Chitra Visweswaran is a dancer whose last name is either a patronym or the given name of her husband. More common among women, the inverted patronym is also adopted by people migrating West who want to be called by their given names without having to explain Indian naming conventions. The given names of their fathers or husbands become their family names.
In Western English-speaking societies, when there are two people with the same name, for example, Robert Jones and Robert Smith, in an elementary school class, they may be referred to as Robert J. and Robert S. respectively to avoid confusion. But two Ramans in South India have just the one name each. So the names of their fathers are used as initials instead of a surname. Raman, son of Gopal, would be G. Raman, and Raman, son of Dinesh, D. Raman. This led to the initial system, mostly followed in South India. Most schools automatically add the initials upon enrollment.
In some parts of Tamil Nadu, traditional family names have recently been abandoned in favour of a father's/husband's given name as a family name. The use of a father's/husband's given name as a family name is in vogue. These names are also used as initials. School and college records would have the names with initials as given below.
§ "S. Janaki" - the family name initial and then the given name.
§ "S. Janaki" might also be written as "Janaki Sridar" in legal documents.
Legal documents such as passports will have the last name fully expanded, instead of initials. Other legal documents such as property deeds will have any of these name formats with the mention of father's /grandfather's/husband's given name and/or village/town/city name. Mandating expansion of initials in passport and multinational companies that are influenced by western standards is a big source of confusion in South India. For example, a letter for Raja Gopala Varma, son of Krishna Kumar, who is usually referred as "K. Raja Gopala Varma", might be addressed incorrectly to "Krishna Kumar Raja Gopala Varma".
Men's names are usually prefixed with initials as mentioned before. Some men used to omit the initial, adding the father's given name in the end. However, this isn't a legal name and won't change their name in official records. For example, both P. Chidambaram and Chidambaram Palaniyappan are valid; however the latter form is not legally used. Generally, the initials are omitted, and father's name is suffixed to shorten a name, for example, G. Raja Ravi Varma, son of M. Gopal Krishnan, becomes Raja Gopal.
For women, the system of initials is slightly different. Before marriage, a girl uses her father's initial, but after marriage, she may choose to use her husband's initial. Of late the trend has changed and many women, especially those employed, do not change the initials, but continue with their father's initials. This is mainly for convenience, since school degree and career papers have the woman's father's initials on them. Changing a name legally is a cumbersome procedure, including announcing the proposed change in a newspaper and getting it published in an official gazette. So the modern trend is to add the husband's name at the end, like some Western women who add their husband's name with a hyphen.
People who do not understand the South Indian naming protocol sometimes expand the initials in an incorrect manner. For example, the name P. Chidambaram, tends to be expanded to Palaniyappan Chidambaram, which is incorrect in the sense that it implies that the person's given name is "Palaniyappan", and the family name is "Chidambaram". In fact, the person's only name is "Chidambaram", with an initial of "P". Also if the name is Srishti Venkata Sesha Phaneendra, it may be written as S.V.S.Phaneendra with three initials.Other such famous misrepresentations include the chess grandmaster, V. Anand (wrongly expanded as Vishwanathan Anand); cricketer, L. Sivaramakrishnan (Laxman is his father's name); and the freedom fighter and statesman, C. Rajagopalachari (often cited as Chakravarty Rajagopalachari). On the other hand, north India media refers to Dr. Anbumani Ramadoss (son of Dr. Ramadoss) often simply as Dr Ramadoss, which again is incorrect as Ramadoss is his father's name and not his name.
The involvement of Justice Party (1926 onwards) and the other Dravidian parties in the start of Independent India had contributed much to the confusion. For instance, a person by name Rajaram Iyer used to get advantage in schools, colleges, jobs etc. for being an Iyer. Alternatively, a person may not like to declare his /her caste name to avoid being identified. "Why should a person get advantage or disadvantage just by declaring his / her caste?". This was the primary question raised by the Dravidian ideology. For instance, a Rajaram Mudaliar may not get the same treatment as a Rajaram Nadar in a public office. Moreover, a Rajaram without any surname/castename will be put in confusion. This led to the inclusion of Father's name as initial. In certain vulgar terms, in some parts of Tamil Nadu it used to be referred like this. "We are born to Fathers, and not to Castes".
Surnames or family names
Many South Indians also use a family name.
Family names are not common in Tamil Nadu, but most of the rest of India uses a family name.
1. Invented family names such as that of Rajesh Pilot.
2. The English last name of Anglo-Indians - descendants of British and Indian parents.
3. Portuguese-Goan last names, such as Fernandes.
4. Arabic surnames of Muslims with ancestors converted to Islam by Arabs and Muslims of mixed Arab and Indian descent.
Kannada names might include place names, clan/title/caste names, father's names along with person's own given name. The rules generally followed when combinations of the names used; Some times they prefix and suffix as surname and middle name will be given name.
§ The place name should always come first.
e.g. Kadidal Manjappa, where Kadidal is place name and Manjappa is person's given name.
§ Father's name should always come second.
e.g. Kuppalli Venkatappa Puttappa, where Kuppalli is place name, Venkatappa is father's name and Puttappa is person's given name.
§ Initials from father's Name and Place name
e.g. Adnoor Bheemappa Narendra, where Adnoor is place name, Bheemappa is father's name and Narendra is person's given name. Adnoor and Bheemappa can be initialled resulting in the name "A. B. Narendra".
§ The clan/title/caste names (generally called surnames) must come last.
e.g. Kundapur Varun Shenoy, Kundapur is place name, Varun is person's given name and Shenoy is the surname. e.g. Satish Ramanath Hegde, Satish is person's given name, Ramanath is father's name and Hegde is the title. e.g. Satish Gowda
§ Having two prefix and suffix as the surname and the middle name as given name. For example Doddamane Ramakrishna Hegde.
§ Rare cases of ancestral house names can also be found, and they follow the rule for place names.
However, if a person wants to go by only his/her given name, there is a tendency in official circles to forcibly add extra names (generally, the place names). Sometimes the surname depends on the work that person does.
Malayali (Kerala) names
Most Keralites have a family name. Most of the family names are of obscure origin, but many have geographical origins – e.g., Vadakkedath (from the North), Puthenveetil (from the new house)etc. Traditionally the full names followed one of three patterns:
1. Family name followed by Given name followed usually by the caste name or title. This was the common pattern (for men and women) among the upper-caste Hindus, especially of Malabar and Cochin. Examples: Mani Madhava Chakyar (Mani is the family name or tharavad name, Madhava(n) is the given name and Chakyar is the caste name), Vallathol Narayana Menon (Vallathol is the family name or tharavad name, Narayana(n) is the given name and Menon is the caste name), Olappamanna Subramanian Nambudiri, Erambala Krishnan Nayanar, etc. Sometimes the caste name/title was omitted, e.g., Kannoth Karunakaran (where the caste name Marar has been omitted). In the case of women the caste name/title was, traditionally, usually different, for example "Amma" was used for "Nair", "Andarjjanam" was used for "Nampoothiri", "Varyasyar" for "Varyar", "Nangyar" for "Nambiar" "Kunjamma" for "Valiathan/Unnithan/Kartha" etc. (see the Singh/Kaur convention in Punjab), e.g., Nalappat Balamani Amma whose brother was Nalappat Narayana Menon and Savithri Andarjjanam (A renowned author). Quite often the family name will have more than one part to it, e.g., Elankulam Manakkal Sankaran Namboodiripad, Madathil Thekkepaattu Vasudevan Nair, etc. The family name is usually initialled, the given name is sometimes initialled (never when there is no caste name following) and the caste name (if present) is never initialled. This is completely arbitrary. So we have as common forms Vallathol Narayana Menon, C. Achutha Menon, E K Nayanar and P. Bhaskaran (here Bhaskaran is the given name; the caste name, Nair in this case, has been omitted). In the Nair caste, using the maternal family name at the beginning is also common. e.g. Maythil Radhakrishnan, who is better known by his family name Maythil.
2. Family name followed by Father's given name followed by Given name. This is common among the rest of the population. For example most traditional Christian names followed this pattern. Usually the Family name and Father name were initialled. In case of (Hindu) women "Amma" was frequently used (as in the previous case). Examples include K M Mani, K G George, V S Achuthanandan, K R Gowri Amma. Many Palakkad Iyers (Kerala Iyers) use an adaptation of this convention by replacing the Family Name with the name of the "gramam" (village). Example: Tirunellai Narayanaiyer Seshan (T N Seshan), where Tirunellai would be the village name, Narayanaiyer is the Father's given name and Seshan is the given name; or Guruvayoor Shankaranarayanan Lalitha abbreviated as G. S. Lalitha.
3. Given Name followed by Title. This is common particularly among Syrian Christians in the old central Travancore area, where the king (Maharaja) or the local ruler (Raja or Thampuran) used to assign some titles to select families. Examples include Varghese Vaidyan(Vaidyan), Fr. Geevarghese Panicker (Panicker), Chacko Muthalaly (Muthalaly), Avira Tharakan (Tharakan), Varkey Vallikappen (Vallikappen) etc.
4. Given Name followed by Father's name as surname and the Initial taken from Mother's name. This is a common trend nowadays where both the mother's and father's names are found with the given Name. For example, L. Athira Krishna. Here the Mother's name 'Leela' finds mention in the initial and father's name 'Krishna' is taken as surname.
5. Much of these traditional naming patterns have now disappeared. The family names are usually not included nowadays (this can probably be attributed to the decline of the joint families or tharavads). The most common patterns nowadays is to have given names, followed by the father's given name (patronymic, e.g. Sunil Narayanan or Anil Varghese) or caste name (e.g. Anup Nair). It is also not uncommon for the village of origin to be use in lieu of the family name, especially in South Kerala, e.g. Kavalam Narayana Panicker, where Kavalam is a village in Alapuzha district.
It should be observed that many Christian names such as Varghese (Ghevarghese) is of Aramaic/Syrian origin.
Many people from the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala do not use any formal surnames, though most might have one. This is because traditionally the surnames refer to their cast, and as a way to ensure that their names are cast-neutral, their surnames are completely dropped. Therefore, in practice, people use either the father's name or initial as a substitute for the surname. Initials, when used, can be placed either before or after their given name. For example; G. Venktaesan, Venkatesan G, or Venkatesan Govindarajan, are different ways in which a person with a given name Venkatesan, whose father's given name is Govindarajan can refer to himself.
Malaysian Indian (Tamil) names
Most ethnic Indians (mostly Tamils) in Malaysia trace their ancestral origin to South India. In Malaysia, the general naming format for Indians is X son of Y or X daughter of Y. The term 'son of' is ANAK LELAKI (abbreviated to A/L in ID documents) in the Malay language and the term 'daughter of' is ANAK PEREMPUAN (abbreviated to A/P in ID documents).
For example, Murugan the son of Vellupillai would appear as MURUGAN A/L VELLUPILLAI in Malaysian ID Card (MyKad) in the name field and the Malaysian Passport.
Using the example above, MURUGAN A/L VELLUPILLAI would also arrange his name in such a way that his father's name become his initial and his given name appears to be his Surname/ Last Name: V. MURUGAN. This practice is similar to the name format of the famous South Indian writer R. K. Narayan (R - Place of Origin: RASIPURAM, K - Father's Name: KRISHNASWAMI). Since most Malaysian Indians are today born in Malaysia, usually only the father's name appears as the initials.
However an increasing number of Malaysian Indians are migrating to the West, and they have begun using their father's name as the Last Name to avoid confusion. Therefore, Murugan the son of Vellupillai would simply go as MURUGAN VELLUPILLAI or M. VELLUPILLAI in the West.
Singaporean Indian (Tamil) names
In the British colonial days, male Indian ( mostly Tamils ) names would employ the connective term S/O (son of) and female Indian names D/O (daughter of) respectively, and these terms are still in common use in Singapore.
The family names of Telugu people precede the given name and are mostly abbreviated. For example, the name Kambham Nagarjuna Reddy would be abbreviated as K.N.Reddy. In this name Nagarjuna Reddy is the given name, and Kambham would be the family name (surname). Some of the people who belong to a particular Reddy caste include the caste names in their names, especially "NAIDU", Chowdary, Shetty, Goud or Mudraj. For example, Vijay Reddy, Hari Chowdary, Devender Goud. In general, if the name of a person in Western format was Vijay Reddy Kandi (given name, second given name and family name), then the name in Telugu-speaking areas would be written as K. Vijay Reddy.there are same surnames like "lankala" to many castes, in yadav caste lankala veeraiah, in reddy caste lankala deepak reddy like this in Andhra Pradesh.
Family names of Telugu people are supposed to be the name of the village or area their ancestors came from. Sometimes the family name can be the same for people belonging to different castes. For example Nandumuri Taraka Ramarao could be abbreviated as N.T.RamaRao. Taraka RamaRao is the given name and probably Nandumuru (a village in Krishna) is the ancestral village of N.T.R.
Sometimes the family name can be same as human body part such as Boddu (umbilicus), Lingam (male genitalia) etc. However, there is always spiritual meaning associated for those names. In spiritual sense, Boddu means center of origin of universe, Lingam means Lord Shiva.
Family name or last name
A family name (in Western contexts often referred to as a last name) is a type of surname and part of a person's name indicating the family to which the person belongs. The use of family names is widespread in cultures around the world. Each culture has its own rules as to how these names are applied and used.
India is a country with numerous distinct cultural and linguistic groups. Thus, Indian surnames, where formalized, fall into seven general types. Many people from the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Kerala do not use any formal surnames, though most have one. In spite of hiding their caste discrimination, Tamil people do not use their family or caste names. They use initials in front of their names (example J. John Vimalraj) instead. The initial J stands for the father's name John Peter, though they have a last name such as Muthaliyar or Kounder.
In Northern India, for most of the people, their family name comes after the given names, whereas in Southern India, the given names come after the family name.
Surnames are based on:
§ Patronymics and ancestry, whereby the father's name or an ancestor's given name is used in its original form or in a derived form (e.g. Aggarwal or Agrawal or Agrawala derived from the ancestor Agrasen).
§ Occupations (Chamar, Patel or Patil, meaning Village Headman, Gandhi, Kamath, Kulkarni, who used to maintain the accounts and records and collect taxes, Kapadia, Nadkarni, Patwardhan, Patwari, Shenoy, etc.) and priestly distinctions (Bhat, Bhattar, Sastry, Trivedi, Shukla, Chaturvedi, Twivedi, Purohit, Mukhopadhyay); Business people: Shetty, Rai, Hegde is commonly used in kshatriya castes of the karnataka costal belt. In addition many Parsi, Bohra and Gujarati families have used English trade names as last names since the 18th and 19th centuries (Contractor, Engineer, Builder).
§ Caste or clan names (Pillai, Gounder, Goud, Gowda, Boyar, Parmar, Sindhi, Vaish, Reddy, Meena and Naidu) are not surnames but suffixes to first names to indicate their clan or caste.
§ Place names or names derived from places of ancestral origin (Aluru, Marwari, Gawaskar, Gaonkar, Mangeshkar, Kapoor, Wamankar, Kokradi, Karnad, Medukonduru, Rachapalli).
§ A few last names originate from names (Juthani)
§ The father's first name is used as a surname in certain Southern states, such as Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. However, after the marriage the bride uses her husband's first name instead.
§ Muslim surnames generally follow the same rules used in Pakistan. Khan is among the most popular surnames, often signifying Afghan/Central Asian descent.
§ Bestowed titles or other honorifics (titles bestowed by kings, rajas, nawabs and other nobles before the British Raj (Wali, Rai, Rao, Tharakan, Panicker, Vallikappen, Moocken, etc.) and those bestowed by the British (Rai, Bahadur).
§ Names indicating nobility or feudal associations or honorifics (Chowdary, Naidu, Varma, Singh, Burman, Raja, Reddy, Tagore, Thakur)
§ Colonial Surnames based on tax or after religious conversion, particularly in Goa, which was under Portuguese control (D'Cruz, Pinto). Often, surnames of Portuguese noble families who were accepted as godparents were used as the surnames of the converted. Some families still keep their ancestral Hindu surnames along with their given Catholic Surnames e.g. Miranda-Prabhu and Pereira-Shenoy.
§ In Kerala the practice of using the house name before or after the given name is on the rise. For example Asin Thottumkal - Asin is the given name while Thottumkal is the house name.
The convention is to write the first name followed by middle names and surname. It is common to use the father's first name as the middle name or last name even though it is not universal. In some Indian states like Maharashtra, official documents list the family name first, followed by a comma and the given names.
It is customary for wives to take the surname of their husband after marriage. In modern times, in urban areas at least, this practice is not universal. In some rural areas, particularly in North India, wives may also take a new first name after their nuptials. Children inherit their surnames from their father.
Jains generally use Jain, Shah, Firodia, Singhal or Gupta as their last names. Sikhs generally use the words Singh ("lion") and Kaur ("princess") as surnames added to the otherwise unisex first names of men and women, respectively. It is also common to use a different surname after Singh in which case Singh or Kaur are used as middle names (Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Surinder Kaur Badal). The tenth Guru of Sikhism ordered (Hukamnama) that any man who considered himself a Sikh must use Singh in his name and any woman who considered herself a Sikh must use Kaur in her name. Other middle names or honorifics that are sometimes used as surnames include Kumar, Dev, Lal, and Chand.
The modern-day spellings of names originated when families translated their surnames to English, with no standardization across the country. Variations are regional, based on how the name was translated from the local language to English in the 18th, 19th or 20th centuries during British rule. Therefore, it is understood in the local traditions that Agrawal and Aggarwal represent the same name derived from Uttar Pradesh and Punjab respectively. Similarly, Tagore derives from Bengal while Thakur is from Hindi-speaking areas. The officially recorded spellings tended to become the standard for that family. In the modern times, some states have attempted standardization, particularly where the surnames were corrupted because of the early British insistence of shortening them for convenience. Thus Bandopadhyay became Banerji, Mukhopadhay became Mukherji, Chattopadhyay became Chatterji, etc. This coupled with various other spelling variations created several surnames based on the original surnames. The West Bengal Government now insists on re-converting all the variations to their original form when the child is enrolled in school.
Some parts of Sri Lanka, Thailand, Nepal, Burma, and Indonesia have similar patronymic customs to those of India.