whats your name

Name giving traditions around the world

January 19, 2017

Naming the Newborn’ is an immensely important tradition; people from all walks of life flood the parents with advices, and different ideas, and make the tradition even more exciting and extraordinary. However, all in all, they perceive that the name can have a professional and long-term impact. Therefore, they respect the parents’ decisions when they opt for that name which is often connected to their culture, emotions, community, or the religious beliefs.

Our name is our gift! And, it reflects who we are; it distinguishes us from millions of people, and allows us to shine in the spotlight as well. Though, you can think that it’s a common thing. But, when we canvass the rituals narrowly, we discover that our ancestors were right; names have their effects, and their effects make a significant difference in our lives, relationships, careers, and emotions. Besides, there are several other factors too, that play a substantial part in name giving ceremony; birth order, time, day, date, weather, elements of nature, and much more. The influence of these factors still matter, and even the people of the richest society ponder these factors before naming their newborns.

Now, let’s discuss regarding the ‘Name Giving Tradition and Ritual’ around the world, and perceive how it molds the perception of our society and keeps our faith in it.

Name Giving Traditions and Rituals

In the West, this tradition has a religious and cultural touch; parents with strict religious beliefs often opt for the name through the baptism ceremony; it’s a cleansing and blessing practice which is performed by the Christian churches, either by pouring the water on the head of an infant, or by immersing him in the water. During this process, the child is often dressed in the white dress, and the parents stay with him/her as well as the witnesses. This ritual is rather common in the west. But, remember that it’s strictly for the Christians. And, there are some Christians too who differ with this culture. In a way, if I say, they don’t have a particular interest in the religious beliefs, it would be utterly right.

For instance: in the USA, parents who aren’t interested in the baptism ceremony arrange a normal name giving ceremony with their friends and family members, since they believe that the child would be able to make his/her own choices when he/she would be old enough to perceive the facets of life. Maximally, they use bible during the ceremony and move their finger over the pages; when they stop over some word, if it’s appropriate as a name and also defines good meanings, they pick it as their baby’s name. However, in case the word is not appropriate, they repeat the process until they don’t find a good name.

Generally, the name giving ceremonies begin with the introduction, where parents give the concise explanation regarding why they held the ceremony, and what their dreams are regarding the future of their child. After that, during their speech, they shed light on those significant people – grandparents, friends, and etc. – who can play an important role in their child’s future and take vows from them. It’s kind of like an emotional moment that make everyone feel terrific inside and out. After that, the parents, or the loved ones, introduce other interesting activities as well – planting of trees, releasing balloons, lighting of candles, and etc. – that perfume everything and spread happy feelings a million times.

Apart from this, in the USA, it’s rather common to give the first born the name of the father, and add ‘Junior’ before it. It’s becoming common too to take the last name and use it as the first name; such as: Tyson from Mike Tyson, Jackson from Michael Jackson, and Smith from Will Smith. Furthermore, some children also adopt the same middle name as their father. And, there are some children who adopt the last name from their mothers as well.

Similarly, for the indigenous Muslims, the professional name giving tradition/ritual is immensely important. After the birth of the baby, the parents give him/her the name on the day of birth, or after a few days, after mutually discussing with the elders, or other family members. However, there is one significant ritual which is performed by the Muslims, known as ‘Aqiqah’. Parents sacrifice two sheep/goats if it’s a boy, but only one, but if it’s a girl; they distribute the meat equally among poor, relatives, and themselves. In case the parents aren’t rich enough, and unable to do Aqiqah, then it’s allowed in Islam to do that any time in life. And, if it’s still not possible for the parents, then it’s the responsibility of the child to do Aqiqah of him/her, once he’s able to take the responsibilities. The religion of Islam immensely encourages this ritual.

In addition, like Christianity, it’s also important to give that name which radiates the well meaning. Now, it doesn’t have to be an Arabic name; the name of any language is fine if it has a good meaning. Moreover, the name also shouldn’t resemble with the name of any other religions’ gods. However, when we analyze the culture of the Muslims more deeply, we observe that most of the Muslims give their child the names of the Prophets and Sahabas. And, it’s rather common, especially in the Asian ethnicity.

On the other hand, the Hinduism society is a bit different from both the Christian and the Muslim society. In Hinduism, the process of naming the child is done after the 11 days of birth, since both the child and the mother are considered impure during this time. After the 11 days, the naming ceremony takes place, known as – Namakarana Sanakar. The friends and the family member participate in this ceremony and praise the parents and the child.

In the Hinduism, the different regions have the different rituals as well. For instance: in the Maharashtra region, the paternal aunt has the honor to name the child, whereas, in the Kerala district, the people tie a black thread, or a golden chain, around the waist of the baby, known as Aranjanam, and then the father whispers the name in the child’s right ear.

Concluding Thoughts

All in all, every culture, and every religion, has its own tradition; it’s not only about the major religions, or eminent countries; when we canvass deeper with intense focus and analysis, we find that the name giving tradition is in a thousand forms. For instance: in the Egypt, there are some ancient traditions that influence the parents to name their child after the Egyptians gods. In Kenya, during the name giving ceremony, there is a ritual in which the people name their child after the dead relative or friend. Whereas, the French use both grandfathers’ names for the boy and both grandmothers’ names for the girl…

Now, of course, we’re the humans of the 21st century. And, these all professional traditions are changing rather rapidly; people are starting to ignore them and naming their children after celebrities, and famous historical warriors. And, when you asked them regarding this change, they respond with the Juliet’s infamous line – “What’s in a Name?”

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