What's in a name? A lot, actually!

Tell me how would you feel if your name made you uncomfortable just by an innocent mention of it? This might sound a bit too far fetched to you but I can tell from experience that it can happen.

what is in a name william shakespeare vedang sati

Let me explain.

In India, naming is not simply a matter of choice but a whole ceremony of its own and a big one at that. Now, there are self-explanatory names such as Arjun Gupta or Geeta Sharma which are pretty common and known to mostly everyone here.

But unfortunately, my kind of name is hard to come by and so it is not only misunderstood but also frowned upon as a result.

Throughout my school years, I have tried hard to explain the meaning of those two words that were gifted to me at birth.

For example: a new teacher would enter class and start taking introductions to kill time. Each student would rise up at his/her place and speak out their names (and stuff) loudly.

And so it would go on; one after another; all their generic names they would pronounce and everyone  in the classroom would understand.

Just about then… "My name is Vedang Sati." I would say.

The teacher would instantly be taken aback upon hearing the sound of those two words and the class would silently giggle.

Why? Because, first of all, how often do you meet someone called Vedang in your life? Secondly, Sati was a shameful evil practice in India whereby a widow threw herself on to her dead husband's funeral pyre.

I know, right?

I must point out though that Sati as in my surname designates originally the goddess rather than the rite; we come from a little place called Uttarakhand which is often called the land of gods and goddesses. Voila!

my home in uttarakhand
Our humble abode in a picturesque mountain village

I am not at all an expert as to how exactly and at what moment in time Sati became a verb so to define the horrible practice. However; I have arrived at a well researched guess, I will say, thanks to my curiosity.

The rite itself has had other elaborate titles such as anvarohana ("ascension to the pyre"), sahagamana ("going with") and sahamarana ("dying with").

But writers in the heyday took inspiration from Goddess Sati (who had herself thrown into a fire) and hence the verb gradually took its present form. In fact in 1987 the Indian Commission of Sati Prevention Act defined sati as the act itself.

A transition from noun to verb seems only logical because people here in India (as I mentioned before) are easily fazed by strange, difficult long names. Like, who would remember or even say anvarohana?

Be that as it may.

I've had trouble explaining and raised quite a few eyebrows in addition due to my surname. That first name is fine by me but ah that last name is literally pain in the neck!

While, on one hand, my name became a source of amusement for many – friends would shout "Sati Savitri" and roll on the floor laughing – it also became a cause of frustration for me personally on the other.

So much so that at one point I even considered getting rid of it.

Today, however, as I rant so candidly about it, I have finally come to terms with my name for real. Phew! The jokes don't bother me anymore they have rather grown on me.

Before I finish, I must add the advantage of having a distinctive name. That I can set custom usernames across social media: Facebook Instagram Twitter you name it; without having to use ugly characters like _. So there is that as well, yeah.

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