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Why should I change my surname after marriage when my name means so much to me? Reflections on the traditional practice of taking a husband's surname.
Why should I change my surname after marriage when my complete name means so much to me? Reflections on the traditional practice of taking a husband’s surname.
Before I got married, I fancied the idea of adding my husband’s name to mine and at times I tried various male names to find the one that matched my first name. I know – it was childish! However, when I actually had to change it, I backed out. People started asking me why I hadn’t changed it yet. I asked my husband for his opinion. He said, “Completely your choice”.
I thought I should try it out. The first place I changed my name was on Facebook, but only for two days. I felt as if a part of me was missing, incomplete. The first sentence I learnt at school was, “My name is….” and I realized, “My name” would not be mine anymore. It may not be so difficult for some women, but for me it was.
Not changing my name is not just about gender equality. I wouldn’t change my name, even if my husband added my name to his.
Not changing my name is not just about gender equality. I wouldn’t change my name, even if my husband added my name to his. My name is the title of my story. My name is me, I do not see it as different from me. I have been hearing it everyday at home, schools and work and now it resonates with me. When my name was called out during award ceremonies or published in the newspaper, I felt proud and so did my parents. I want to see that pride in their eyes in the future as well.
Yes, I am married, but my roots are still in my family and they cannot be taken away. For those who argue that it is just a change of surname, my name was never my first name alone, which is just a word if not coupled with my family name. If I google my name, I see myself at different stages of life. Why should I start afresh with a new identity, when I have a beautiful past?
Why should I start afresh with a new identity, when I have a beautiful past?
I was asked if I wanted to change my name when I applied for a marriage registration, my son’s birth certificate, passport renewal, when my husband added me as his spouse, for Aadhar card and at many other places. If the answer is “No”, a weird expression pops up on the executive’s face and he would look at my husband sympathetically. Even after three years of marriage, people still ask me why I haven’t changed my name.
They frown at my decision and directly link it to my relationship with my extended family. Just because it is tradition or because someone else in the family did it, I am not convinced to drop my family name. Every person has a different relationship with their self. Many get offended if their name is pronounced wrong or misspelled in emails or invitations, and we are talking about a change of name here. A name is not just a word; it is part of one’s soul.
A marriage shouldn’t alter a person’s identity and the decision of the name change should be taken only by her. Let her do what she thinks is right.
First published at the author’s blog
Concept image of name board via Shutterstock
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I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
Every daughter, no matter how old, yearns to come home to her parents' place - ‘Home’ to us is where we were brought up with great care till marriage served us an eviction notice.
Every year Dugga comes home with her children and stays with her parents for ten days. These ten days are filled with fun and festivity. On the tenth day, everyone gathers to feed her sweets and bids her a teary-eyed adieu. ‘Dugga’ is no one but our Goddess Durga whose annual trip to Earth is scheduled in Autumn. She might be a Goddess to all. But to us, she is the next-door girl who returns home to stay with her parents.
When I was a child, I would cry on the day of Dashami (immersion) and ask Ma, “Why can’t she come again?” My mother would always smile back.
I mouthed the same dialogue as a 23-year-old, who was home for Durga Puja. This time, my mother graced me with a reply. “Durga is fortunate to come home at least once. But many have never been home after marriage.”
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