What’s in a name?

Flights Of Fantasy

[ M Panging Pao ]

Most common names of North-east India are ‘uncommon’ to mainland India. Names like Shurhozelie Liezietsu, Chekrovolu Swuro, Sniawbahlang, Huidrom Taibangsatba Meitei, Mylliemnpdah, Tanpho Wangnaw, Phongwasun Ngamgadam, Chowang Yangchung, Khumun Tabronyu, Chesup Singlakring, etc, must appear alien to most outsiders.

As per Webster dictionary, ‘name’ is a word that constitutes the distinctive designation of a person or thing or a word or symbol used in logic to designate an entity. All persons are generally named after birth; thereafter a person is known by that name throughout their life and in their afterlife also. In fact, many societies have name-giving ceremonies. Some names are given by parents, some by grandparents, some by teachers, some by maternal uncles, etc. In certain tribal societies, names follow a pattern from father’s names. A few names are given based on famous personalities, events, and even incidents. Some actors/personalities adopt names to boost their careers. Some people pick up adopted names and surnames. Another common pattern is the placing of clan name or one’s father’s name before the person’s name.

Some persons pick up adopted names or surnames to follow famous personalities or to boost their careers. Did you know that Amitabh Bachchan is actually Inquilab Srivastava, Akshay Kumar is actually Rajiv Hari Om Bhatia, Mithun Chakraborty is Gauranga Chakraborty, Sridevi is actually Shree Amma Yanger Ayyapan, and Jeetendra is Ravi Kapoor?

Similarly,the actual names of famous international personalities include Marilyn Monroe, whose birth name was Norma Jeane Mortenson, Lady Gaga’s birth name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta, Vin Diesel is Mark Sinclair, Jackie Chan was born Chan Kong-Sang, and finally Ben Kingsley, who was born as Krishna Pandit Bhanji. Famous politician Rajesh Pilot was actually Rajeshwar Prasad Singh Bidhuri, an IAF squadron leader. Since he was an IAF pilot,he picked Pilot as a surname.

With 28 major tribes, 100 sub-tribes, 50 distinct languages and dialects, in Arunachal also names follow a pattern based on tribe and region. In certain areas clan name is placed before personal name. However, certain different syllables or pronunciations are prominent in Arunachal. Syllables, pronunciations like í, é, nga, etc, are commonly used. Names like Líbang, Míbang, Émul are common. These names are commonly pronounced differently in other regions.

Recently there has been a subtle change in the names of the native people. With the proliferation of other languages, religions and increased interaction among other societies, names are undergoing subtle transformations. Names like Vijay, Rajiv, Amar, Mahesh, David, Daniel, George, Gabriel, Lenin, John, Neelam, Indira, Aroti, Jamuna, etc, can be heard and seen. There are some names named after famous personalities, events, and places, like India, Bombay, Germany, Bharat, etc.

Change is the only constant in life. Following this theory, our names are also changing. Names are changing due the influences of language, religion and increased interactions with other cultures and customs. However, are names more important that the body or soul? Like Shakespeare famously quoted in Romeo & Juliet: What’s in a name? (The contributor is retired Group Captain, Indian Air Force)