N for Name #AtoZChallenge

first name

A lot in a first name – it’s her identity.

I took my husband’s last name after marriage. I wasn’t asked or forced. His last name went well with my first name. Let’s just say I liked the ring of it and went ahead. I know even if I hadn’t, he or his family wouldn’t have bothered.

Choosing between a married name or a maiden name is not a new thing. Different cultures have different ways of looking at this topic, people have different views on whether this supports patriarchy or not, so on and so forth. None of this is what I am thinking right now.

I would like to take your focus towards women who are ‘asked’ to change their first names after marriage. Whether the reason is astrology or culture, changing the first name is something that makes me think more than just a last name change.

A person’s name is her identity for say 26 years and then as soon as the marriage is settled, a new name is given to her. Along with a new life and relationships around her, she is now expected to have with a new name. A name that her parents or siblings will never get used to.

I don’t know how it must feel. I am sure it is not easy. Most women accept this with a pinch of salt but if given a chance most would like to retain their first names.

We say ‘what’s in a name?’ or ‘a rose by any other name would smell as sweet’ but it is easier said than done. Isn’t it?

Have you heard of changing first names after wedding? Can you help me understand why is this done? Do you know somebody whose maiden name was something else?


I am participating in the A To Z Challenge for the third time this year and I am penning Stories from everyday life.

26 Responses

  1. vineeta says:

    Basically a maiden should not change neither her first nor second name . How can one leave her identity ?
    I changed my second name because at the time of marriage I was only 20yrs old and very excited about these’ funny things ‘. That was my own choice. Now when I really became mature and open minded things can’t be undone . My daughter in law will do according to her wish ( though I don’t know where is she. )

  2. I would never change my name. First or Last. I have known many women who changed both their first and last names after marriage. My name is my identity for me and I would never trade my identity for something that I cannnot guarantee would last for life. I may get divorced or separated from my spouse after marriage and what after that?

  3. Claire says:

    I have not heard of changing first names after a marriage. I took my husband’s last name because I liked it better than mine.

  4. I have heard of people changing first as well as last names upon adopting someone. I know that this is different, but the rationale behind it is maybe similar. It is because you are starting a new life. It’s a fresh start with a new name. In Judeo-Christian values, it is seen in the Bible in both the old and new testaments. God changes Abram to Abraham in the book of Genesis, for example.

  5. Rajlakshmi says:

    My friend was given a new name right after her marriage… They didn’t change any official papers, but all her in laws called her with that name. I was extremely surprised by this ritual. My friend has such a gorgeous name and now no one in her new family called her by that name. I felt really bad. And this is from a very highly educated family. I don’t understand all this ritual thing… No one changed the name of the guy… 😡
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…Yogasana: The Ostrich Stance #atozchallengeMy Profile

  6. Rajlakshmi says:

    My friend was given a new name right after her marriage… They didn’t change any official papers, but all her in laws called her with that name. I was extremely surprised by this ritual. My friend has such a gorgeous name and now no one in her new family called her by that name. I felt really bad. And this is from a very highly educated family. I don’t understand all this ritual thing… No one changed the name of the guy…
    Rajlakshmi recently posted…Yogasana: The Ostrich Stance #atozchallengeMy Profile

  7. Modern Gypsy says:

    I haven’t changed my name and I don’t think I ever could! Although the husband’s granny did give me a new name, I was never expected to officially change or use it. She called me by that name whenever I met her, which was once a year at most. Respecting her old age and her overall beautiful heart I didn’t protest. But everyone knew that was a privilege only she had.
    Modern Gypsy recently posted…Nail those paints: the wonderful world of acrylicsMy Profile

  8. My Era says:

    I have a number of friends who changed their first names after marriage and to my amusement, they didn’t think much of it. Though I couldn’t help but wonder when the given name is just a matter of liking of the child’s parents (man-made), how could it affect the destiny of the married couple that was decided long before the child was named?
    My Era recently posted…A walk in the darkMy Profile

  9. Shilpa Garg says:

    Changing the first name is truly weird. I mean, that’s your identity for 20-25 years and then overnight it is changed. A few of my school mates mates have ‘new’ first names. And it feels so odd to call them by their new names.
    Shilpa Garg recently posted…Not Done! #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2ZMy Profile

  10. Mandy says:

    I didn’t change my last name and certainly haven’t changed my first name since marriage. I felt like I was already dealing with enough change getting married in the first place, dealing with a name change would only complicate matters. I honestly don’t think my husband’s family would like the fact that I didn’t change my last name, so I haven’t told them. Maybe they know without my having said anything? It’s hard to say.

    With Love,
    Mandy
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  11. Andy says:

    My mother is using my father’s last name — and it’s a traditional thing in the Philippines. In China, many women don’t change their names because it’s a hassle changing every document they have — that’s according to at least four Chinese women I talked with about this.

  12. Soumya says:

    I’ll never change my name, no matter what.

    I’ve heard of people changing first names too after marriage. Some of my friends actually. So a Divya Kamat became a Sushma Nayak after marriage. No, not kidding!
    Soumya recently posted…N: The Night Circus – Book Review #AToZChallengeMy Profile

  13. Geets says:

    I’ve heard of it and it is mostly part of the culture… or tradition… or whatever… but I don’t get it… Changing the last name is still okay, but how can someone ask to change the first name? Something that has been a part of you, and your identity cannot change overnight!

    Cheers

  14. I know of just one person whose maiden and married first names were different. I knew her only as a married woman, so didn’t have to deal with the change myself – she had only one name as far as I was concerned. I don’t think she disliked it, otherwise she wouldn’t have used it in social contexts.

    I have taken my husband’s surname after marriage. Wouldn’t change my first one (no-one has ever asked me to, and if they did, they’d get a clip on the ear for sure! :)) even though it is long and often mispronounced and misspelt even within India, let alone in the countries where I have lived. Btw, the Arab ladies don’t take their husband’s family name, they are known as ‘daughter of …’ and ‘of (place)’ all their lives, single, married, divorced, whatever… I think people from Iceland also follow the same system.

    Interesting choice of topic for N! All the best,

    Nilanjana
    Madly-in-Verse
    Nilanjana Bose recently posted…N is for…Nourhanne… and… Nasri… and… Nomads…My Profile

  15. Kalpanaa says:

    I didn’t think things through when I got married and simply changed my name to my husband’s. After my divorce I changed it back to my maiden name. I think we shouldn’t have second names at all. In any case in India surnames are all tied up with caste which is what makes it super obnoxious.

  16. Suzy says:

    I’ve heard about this but don’t know anyone who had to change their firstname. sometimes I think we make too big a deal about things. Here in NZ my name Ila is mispronounced so many times – Aila, Alia, Ilia, Lia, Eliza, Helen, Elaine – so what’s in a name? that which we call a rose by any other would smell as sweet.
    Suzy recently posted…Now and Then … #atozchallenge letter N @AprilA2ZMy Profile

  17. Yes, the tradition is mostly in India. I have come across ladies who maintain their both names at different places. But personally, if somebody writes my spelling also wrong, I get fuelled with fire.

  18. Change of the first name after marriage was a routine thing in the previous generation, generation of my mother and aunties. My mother was rechristened, after her marriage. And I remember me and my brother getting confused because half of the family members called her with first name and other half with second name. It took a while for us to understand that both sets of people are referring to the same person, my mother! Why was the name changed, no one in the family seems to have clue…neither my father nor my mother…
    ————————————————
    Anagha From Team MocktailMommies
    Collage Of Life

  19. Tamara says:

    I didn’t particularly like my maiden name, so I gladly assumed my husband’s when we got married. I remember the day when I went back to work after the wedding. My office had a new sign, and it felt like my maiden self was replaced by that new person. A funny incident happened by the way, an employee’s lawyer that I had to deal with kept referring to an agreement he made with Miss Stutz (my maiden name) and asked me (Mrs Gerber) to honor it. Made me laugh so hard.
    I generally don’t like formality that goes with Mrs so-and-so, I’d rather just be “Tamara” which hasn’t changed anyway!

    https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.ch/2017/04/a-z-blogging-challenge-nutella-that-is.html

  20. Anonymous says:

    The issue of names and how they change over time is an interesting one.
    Droping by from the A to Z Challenge
    http://ancestralresearchjournal.blogspot.com.au/2017/04/a-to-z-challenge-n-is-for-names.html – N is for Names
    ———-
    Sandra, Aspiring family historian, fellow participant in the #AtoZchallenge
    http://ancestralresearchjournal.blogspot.com.au/ – Sandra’s Ancestral Research Journal
    recently posted…A to Z Challenge – N is for NamesMy Profile

  21. I can’t imagine changing my first name. Changing my *last* name turned into a trauma when the marriage failed. I was forced to bring my birth certificate, divorce papers, and several other items to the state to ‘prove’ that I had taken my maiden last name back. I’m still correcting people 5 years later! I can’t imagine the headache if I’d changed my first name too!

    The Novice
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  22. Anonymous says:

    “Wangdu?!!” ….I can understand the disbelief even for a gal, who was so much in love with the guy she was going to marry! But in all seriousness – in its crudest sense may be interpreted as a “change of title” or ownership – does it have the roots in the tribes, we all came from…? I wonder. “Now with the marriage, this gal is of tribe X and hence she takes the surname of X”….it is soo crude. We have come some ways from it…or at least we want to believe. It is time that we wake up. Thanks to Modiji for his recent move, too.

  23. Shalini says:

    One of my sis in laws name was changed on the wedding day as the first alphabet of her name wasn’t “auspicious” enough for her husband. She happily went along with it while I seethed and argued. I called my brother a lot of names too. But in business families this is so commonly done. I rebelled by saying I will call her from her actual namr only. Then she begged me to pls call het with the new name!!!!!!! To date it’s something I just don’t like or get!!

    Nonchalant morning walk

  24. My Maharashtrian and Sindhi friends changed their 1st names happily enough, infact they chose their ‘new names’ Renu became Serena. Poonam became Heena and more. Some of them though have retained their 1st names.
    I changed my surname voluntarily, no one asked me to.

  25. I refuse to change my name – first or last- and I think it’s a very patriarchal system across the globe where it’s mainly the women who either change their last names or hyphenate their last names. If it was ‘just a name’ and all that, why can’t men change their names? And yes, I do know of women who change their first names too but I think it’s mostly in India that I’ve known that to happen and surprise, surprise — it’s only women who are asked!
    Sanch | Sanch Writes recently posted…#Nonet: End the hate #atozchallengeMy Profile

  26. Denise says:

    This is a new idea to me. My sister opted to hyphenate her last name after marriage. I took my maiden name as my middle name. I would not want to change my first name even though I never liked it as a child.

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