Must A Name Mean Something


Male or female, if my name were either Don or Dawn, I’d be up at sunrise to celebrate the glory that is me.” – Jarod Kintz, 99 Cents For Some Nonsense

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The above quote by Jarod in a nutshell sums up exactly what I feel about changing names after marriage. I was born unnamed and yet I was out of the womb alive and kicking; infact laughing my way into this glorious world. A first born daughter who brought tremendous joy to her family; they christened me Archana on an auspicious day. By default I became Archana Chaurasia. Chaurasia – my father’s family name, err… my mother’s family name… oops I am now confused… whose name did I really carry that time – my father’s surname or my mother’s maiden surname? Because both – mom and dad shared the same surname! Yes, my community is slightly conservative and the so-called obedient children married within the same community. Alas! No surname change 🙁

Perhaps the older generations contemplated this great question, “Whose name will you adopt after you get married, my dear daughter?”, and came up with the most profound solution! So either that question was an elephant in the room or they never wanted to cross that bridge, but in one masterstroke they solved a problem which was never a problem for them. Am sure my forefathers wouldn’t be too happy with me, for I left the good old UP community and married a Punjabi; and now, for style I carry my maiden and married family names – making me the chic – Ms. Archana Chaurasia Kapoor! Howzzat?! And now that we have discussed me, we could move on to the other women 😉

50shadesOn a serious note, this question is a bone of contention not only for many women but surprisingly, also for many men. Men, who are on their own trip and want to possess the woman; and hence insist that she changes her name. At times it also becomes a life and death issue if the woman wants to hold on to her name because that is her identity – and in a way it will always be! As an aside, since I love the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy, even Christian Grey, the maverick male protagonist insisted that his wife – the stubborn and shy Anastasia Steele become Anastasia Grey after tying the knot; much against her wishes, for she adored her father a lot and loved to carry his name! So much for the western ‘open’ mind-set and culture!

Women who do not want to change their name post marriage are often seen as staunch feminists; and it doesn’t go down well in many families. In some families it is a given – the woman has to change the name. Well, not just the surname, but there are many communities who insist on changing the woman’s first name as well. Surprised? Don’t be, because it is true! What an identity crisis that leaves the poor woman in. And mind you, I am not talking about any conservative people here; I am referring to perfectly educated men and women. I figured this out when I was trying to locate a senior from school. I spotted her picture under a completely different name. Intrigued and wanting to get in touch with her, I clicked on the profile to find out that it was indeed the same girl. We connected again after years, and the curious cat that I am, I literally interrogated her on her drastic name change. Guess what she said… “My mother-in-law did not like my given name and hence she changed it”. What transformation; I gaped at her! My dear friend graciously accepted it; I wouldn’t have been so kind though!

But hey, let’s take a sneak peek into the ‘real’ world that we live in and how changing or not changing of maiden names affects people. There are couples and families for that matter who don’t care about the change in name, especially if the lady insists on keeping her maiden identity. And then there are women who very easily transition into the ‘new’ name and happily so. But, I have observed that many a times, maiden names create a big issue for married women, especially in the financial domain. Whether it is joint bank accounts, wills, property matters etc.; not changing the name to their married name makes life a bit challenging for some ladies. There could also be issues with invitations to be sent to couples where the wife still maintains her maiden name; also whether she should be addressed as ‘Ms’ or ‘Mrs’. Weird, isn’t it? Well, I faced this issue where some people started addressing me as Mrs. Chaurasia.  Confused, I wondered were they referring to me or my mom? :-p Never mind… you meet all sorts…

Married or maiden surname decision should be the couple's.. and it could be anything #Surname #Name #surnamechange Click To Tweet

Personally, I think it is a decision best left to the couple, and not just the woman, as it also reflects the strength of the relationship and the decision would then be a joint one; perhaps leading to better marital harmony. There are ‘ifs’ and ‘buts’ in every decision though and it is a matter of personal choice – but the outcome would surely be a favourable one.

As for me, I have really been lucky in this regard.  After Desh and I got married, I asked him what he would prefer, whether I should carry my maiden surname or whether he would like me to change my name. He replied saying, “Though I would love it if you called yourself Archana Kapoor, I fell in love with you when you called yourself Archana Chaurasia; that name has a beautiful ring to it and I would respect your decision to keep it that way.” Well, what do you do when your husband is so benevolent and adorable! I decided to take the middle route and officially become Archana Chaurasia Kapoor; because what’s in a name after all!?

Image source: Flickr

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