An odd name

People in India are seriously obsessed with a name's meaning, this I know from experience. Each new teacher and each new friend is interested to seek out the true sense of your name.

Names such as Gaurav Pandey, Aakash Agarwal and Aakansha Sharma are common and self-explanatory. But every once in a while comes a name which brings with it a feeling of discomfort to the one who's bearing it.

Take mine for example which is a poor amalgamation of an uncommon forename and an infamous surname. It even makes me giggle at times. Throughout my school years, I have tried hard to explain the meanings of the two words that were gifted to me at birth.

Sati, an Indian caste
Thanks but no thanks

I remember this vividly.

A new teacher would enter classroom and start taking introductions. This was their tried and trusted technique to kill time on a first day of school. Each student would rise up at his/her place and speak out their name, loud and clear.

"My name is Vedang Sati."

Any given teacher was instantly taken aback upon hearing the sound of those two words. One, because Vedang is an offbeat first name, and two, because Sati was a shameful practice in India whereby a widow threw herself on to her husband's funeral pyre.

I must point out that Sati as in my surname designates originally the goddess rather than the rite; the rite itself has other technical names such as anvarohana ("ascension to the pyre"), sahagamana ("going with") and sahamarana ("dying with").

But the Indian Commission of Sati Prevention Act, 1987 defined sati as the act or rite itself. On the other hand, the term suttee was commonly used by the Anglo-Indian writers. Also, sati was made use of frequently and extensively in the radio announcements, magazine articles and newspaper stories of the day.

I can very well understand as to why the difficult Sanskrit words namely, anvarohana, sahagamana or sahamarana were not used any further. They were after all not very rememberable terms. People of this country forget things quite easily, and so, I must admit that the word sati was vilified for a good reason.

Sati, an Indian caste
A ritual of the worst kind

Thankfully, my ill-famed surname could become a source of amusement for many. My best friends used to scream Sati Savitri very openly. I did feel a little hurt because of it in the beginning but eventually the phrase grew on me. I was instead hurt more when they shouted, Sati Teri Fati.

There is one great advantage of having a distinctive name, which I must mention.

I can set my custom username on social media without having to use numbers or underscores or other ugly characters. Think about it for a moment. There could be thousands of Aakash Agarwal(s) in India but there is possibly and hopefully, only one Vedang Sati.

Hence, a happy ending, after all.

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