There are many religious ceremonies I don’t understand, maybe my problem is with religion and everything that comes along with it. I am yet to find someone who can explain the significance behind most of these rituals, other than it’s just something we have to do.
The baarsaa (naamkaran in Hindi), or naming ceremony, is a weird one. I don’t understand why you have to put a newborn through the rigmarole of rituals which just end up stressing the baby out. Instead, like with every major life event these days, just put the name up on Facebook!
Recently I had gone to one, where the baby miraculously slept through it all. So after passing the poor soul over and under the baby cot a couple of times, (reason still unknown to me and yes I googled it and no it didn’t solve the mystery!) – the proud parents revealed the name. It was a pretty unique name, one that I had never heard of at least. It took me a couple of tries to even pronounce it properly. I wasn’t the only one struggling, though, because one of my cousins turned to me and said, we need to think of a nickname asap !!
Having one of the most common, if not the most common Indian names myself, teachers still seemed to screw it up. Although Abu Dhabi has its fair share of Indians, going to an international school did not help in the correct pronunciation of a fairly simple two-syllable name. Here are just some of the ways my pious name has been butchered.
Booja – Result of going to school in the middle east where the letter P does not exist in the Arabic language. I’ve been called this mainly by my supervisors and to be fair to them, English wasn’t their first language.
Poojhaa – I’ve been called this by my French teachers and by teachers from Lebanon, who thought they were French.
Pooya – I’ve only been called this once, by a substitute teacher, but I’ll never forget it. When he called out my name, as he went through the class list, I didn’t even respond. He was so off that someone else said ‘present’. After reaching the end of the list, I raised my hand thinking he had skipped my name, so he asked me to spell it out. That’s when he apologized and said he was Spanish and hence, the confusion with the letter J 🙂
I can only imagine the struggle my nephew is going to go through if he ever does leave India. But I hope he wears his name like a badge of honour, correcting everyone that mispronounces it; unlike his aunt, who just let it slide, and wrote a blog post about it instead 😉
~ P xo