Sunday, 28 August 2016

Naming customs of Nicobar

What’s in a name? And oxymoronically, almost everyone familiar with this phrase knows that it was said by Shakespeare. Name, a random but socially acceptable combination of letters not just identifies a person but defines him as well. Growing up in a small town, as a child my knowledge of names and surnames was limited to a very small set. The portals of college introduced me not just to the wide world outside but its nomenclatural trends of human beings as well. The amazement at coming across new names was a never ending process as I moved ahead in life and started working first with an MNC and then for the government. India is a land of diversity and nothing underscores this statement better than the diversity of names and surnames of Indians.
                After doing my term in Delhi, I moved to my next karmkshetra Andaman & Nicobar Islands. These scenic and mysterious islands are spread out in form of a convex arc in the Bay of Bengal and form Indian frontier in the Indian Ocean. My journey didn’t stop at Port Blair, capital of A&N Islands, but it took me further down south to Car Nicobar where I was posted as Chief of District Police. Nicobar, is altogether a different world, so far removed from the mainland not just physically but culturally as well. Every single day, which I have spent in Nicobar, has brought new fascinating discoveries to me. Nicobari people are the most amazing people I’ve ever met; they don’t just live their life, they celebrate it. They are explorers and their inventive and exploratory faculties are quite evident in their names.
                To begin with, my PSO is named as Faithful and there are people named as Grateful, Greatheart etc as well. Faithful has named his son as Anshul Roberto Carlos, a combination of names of one of former SP’s son and Faithful’s favourite footballer(Faithful has played football at national level).I was surprised to my core when I found that one Martin Luthar has his son named as Boris Baker. I have met at least two persons named as Plus Minus.And I have heard that there’s one lady with really interesting name- Yes Please. Where in India you’d come across people taking such liberties in naming themselves. If someone loves a name he’ll pick it even if it doesn’t conform to the norms; which are ultimately a collective expression of a society’s choices. Earlier, almost all names used to be in English but the predominant Christian religion hasn’t stopped the Nicobari people from giving their children Hindu names such as Shyam Lal, Priyanka, Rahul, Sanjay, etc. Nicobar has a small proportion of Muslims as well who keep Muslim names and surnames. So, names wise we see such a huge diversity of people at such a small place.

I hope that the prevailing naming customs will continue and Nicobari people will continue to display freedom and imagination in naming their children, as they do it now.

--Deepak