There are many factors or naming conventions to be considered when talking about Indian names; they vary from region to region and they are influenced by religion and caste. We should also consider the fact that India’s population speaks a wide variety of languages and nearly every major religion in the world has a substantial following in India.

Hence, there appears a subtle, sometimes confusing difference in Indian names and naming styles. In Tamil, for instance, people did not have a second name till the rule was enforced by the legal systems in order to reduce the occurrence of the name clashes.

Indian Kokopelli
An interesting characteristic of the Indian names results from the fact that, the official name and the birth name are not the same; the birth name begins with a letter which is considered lucky on the basis of a person’s horoscope. Some children are given three names: a given name, a second given name, and a family name. For the communities that do not use the family names the third name is replaced by a god’s name, or the grandfather’s or grandmother’s name, depending on the sex of the child. Indian names, especially Hindu names, are closely connected with the caste system.

Thus, for Hindus belonging to the upper castes, the gotra or the name of the first known ancestor is preserved in the person’s name and lineage. Two people bearing the same gotra cannot get married, since they are supposed to be related filially. Some Indian family names can be place names or caste name.

Influenced by religion, an Indian name in the Hindu community will be comprised of a given name, may have or have not a second name, and a family name. After getting married, a Hindu woman usually takes on her husband’s family names or, in communities which do not use a family name, the husband’s given name. For more info see SuperWorldGuide

Thus, in South India if a married woman’s name is Sudha Ramesh, this means that Sudha is married to Ramesh. One other strange situation is the change of both the woman’s names after marriage if the husband wishes so. The Indian names for the Sikh community differ from the other religious communities’ names by the fact the Sikh men all use Singh (meaning lion-hearted) as a suffix to their names and Sikh women use Kaur (meaning princess).

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