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A rose by any other name…

Lily? Jasmine?? or Frangipani???


I vaguely heard someone saying that. I was seated in a CST bound train, reading ‘Eat, pray, love’ and fortunately the novel had finally arrived to an interesting part. ‘Sankashti’!!… the moment I heard this, I snapped up and looked at the woman saying it, wondering whether it was ‘Sankashti’ that day. To the uninitiated, this is one of the common fasts observed amongst the Maharashtrians.  It is observed every month on the 4th day of the waning fortnight and is observed to receive the blessings of Lord Ganesha. I started observing it from class 10 – since I believed it was necessary in order to score well. I didnt study as much and scored okay in class 10, but the practice of fasting has continued.While  I’m not a devout hindu,  I have faith in Lord Ganesha.(fasting has got nothing to do with being a devout hindu, but that is a topic for another post I suppose). I have continued to fast month after month, year after year hoping that one day the Lord will pity me and grant some sense. 🙂

Well, coming back to the story, I thought that it could be Sankashti and that I might have missed to fast. Mentally, I berated myself for not only not observing the fast, but actually eating a hearty breakfast that day, which I normally end up skipping. Then I realised that if it was Sankasthi that day, everyone in my family had missed it – we all of us fast on Sankashti. That was unusal, because my mother would never miss it! So I looked at the woman once more. She was still on the phone talking to someone. I concluded that she must have spoken about some past / upcoming Sankashti. I was just about to go back to my reading when I overheard, ‘Sankashti!’ and I turned to look at her once more. She was saying ‘Sankashti, what a brat you are, always getting into mischief’… and I was floored!

SANKASHTI was the name of the child this woman was talking to!!! It’s a Sanskrit word which I worked out would be sandhi of 2 words – ‘San+Kashta’ – ‘San’->>’Sam’ meaning together (in this context – ‘WITH’) and ‘Kashta’ meaning ‘Hardships’. A fast is obviously penance  and hence the meaning ‘with hardships’. Then I began pitying the child whose name was ‘Sankashti’. Maybe she was born after several troubled hours her mother spent in the labour room etc. But still ‘Sankashti’ was such a vindictiveness on her mother’s part, if there really was such a thought process behind the name. But then I thought there wouldn’t have been. Not many people care to dwell on the fact that most of the Indian names have sanskrit origin, much less their meaning. Lately, there has been some sort of trend of naming babies with some archaic Sanskrit words from scriptures. Internationally, if they can name kids randomly (Read: Brooklyn, Apple, Ireland etc) why cant we follow the madness? Of course its everyone’s choice to name (And call) their kids whatever they want. So infact, there could be some people complimenting Sankashti’s parents on such a cool choice of name.

Personally, I tend to associate an image with every person I know, and this has sometimes posed problems for me. The image is mostly influenced by the peson’s name. An Indian name mostly has a meaning – so if it is ‘Anjali’ – it is a specific hand posture using which one normally offers a gift to the God. Contrary to the popular opinion, it’s not an offering to the God . It literally means ‘palmful’ and usually you use this gesture to offer any gift to God etc. Now though I don’t picture a palm in my mind every time I come across an ‘Anjali’, I mostly have problem processing such names. And there are many I know who seem to have such visual names. If they(my friends) read this post, all I have to say is this : FORGIVE ME! YOU WERE NOT SUPPOSED TO KNOW THIS.

Well it’s not like I always picture the meaning first, but it stayed in the back of my mind that ‘Kinchit’ means ‘small in quantity’/’Little'(quantity) etc when I got introduced to one of my MBA classmates. I found it funny, but not many agreed, because it is apparently a common Gujarati name and my college was full of Guju bhais.  I remember one of our professors basing her whole session on some one liners like ‘Come on Kinchit, I’ll give you a clean chit if you answer this etc’… then there were numeous ‘Ketans’ (house), ‘Parthivs’ (made of mud) that I kept on running into. Then there’s fair share of abstract names too –  a ‘Vanchana’ (worry) that I know, ‘Rachana’ (Arrangement/ creation – it doesnt say good arrangement or bad). A guy’s name was ‘Apekshit’ – (expected) and his youger brother was ‘Akalpit’ (‘beyond imagination’ and sometimes can also be used as ‘Unplanned’) –  thereby making their parents’ family planning details totally public… 🙂 . One of my own nieces in the extended family is named ‘Sakshi’ (a witness)…. and the list goes on…

I believe that your name somehow becomes a part of you, your personality. So Akalpit may for all reasons grow into an unpredictable young man. But on the other hand, it wasnt Vanchana’s fault that she was given such a name. It necessarily does not mean that she has to live up to it. Fortunately, my parents did not name either myself or my brother in such a manner that our friends would have teased us. But I’d have surely felt resentful if I was called  ‘Akriti’ (diagram), Nupur (anklet – though a very pretty sounding name), Sulabha (‘easily available’), Anumati (consent), Apeksha (expectation), Pratiksha (the wait), Heena (Mehendi) etc