Monday, November 24, 2014

What's in a name?

"What's in a name?"
A lot, i say - our whole identity, our being, our recognition.
Why i changed my name from Mirashi - to Bhandare after my wedding?

I have many feminist friends who say that they will never change their name after they are married or many married friends and cousins who have not changed their name and i agree with them. You are known by, and used to a surname for 25 odd years of your life and suddenly, in a blink of an eye, you have to get used to a new identity. It is like living two different lives, killing the first one and starting a new one!
How weird is that?
Get all your documents changed, change your social media statuses and surnames, be a part of a new family line whose ethos you may or may not be used to. Why would anyone want to do it, right?

I did. And i wanted to.

I was Neha Mirashi and i am proud of being a Mirashi. We stand for a lot - a long line of educators - principles and discipline have been the core values of this family line and i am so proud of being a part of this.
 I was "Mirashi" for all my school friends, who still are my closest friends to date, even after a lot of traveling and college and meeting new people. And for them i will always be Neha Mirashi. That's how they identify me, know me.
And then I married the most wonderful person. And when it was time to make a decision about name change, i wanted to change my name - i wanted to commit wholly and unconditionally to being a Bhandare - wife of Sagar Bhandare, daughter in law, grand daughter in law to the "Bhandare's".
There was no holding back.
I did not have to choose between being a Mirashi or a Bhandare, i was simply migrating.
Being a Bhandare did not make me any less of a Mirashi. I am still Neha Mirashi to all my pre-wedding people. It gave me a chance to carve out a new identity within the framework of the Bhandare family.
How many times we play the game of - "if i were someone else - who would i be"?
I had a chance to play it in real life. I could change my name, take all the good values from the Mirashi line, mix and match them with the Bhandare bits, and there - start a whole new life.
It was like being a new branch of a tree - sprouting out in a new direction, but my roots staying grounded in the very ground i grew up in.

I can be adventurous and move in new directions and places, be different, start anew. I can make my own identity as a Bhandare and at the same time i will always have the safety net of the Mirashi's. Who does not want the best of both worlds?
 I never thought i was giving up on being who i was, but i was moving closer to being who i was destined to be - not just a daughter, but a wife, mother and a daughter-in-law.
I completely understand where my friends, who don't want to change their name, come from and i respect them for it. Some are not comfortable with the change, some don't feel the need for it and that is absolutely fine. It is a fine step forward for women empowerment. It is a choice and no one can demand it of you. It is something you must choose to do willingly and for reasons of your own.

For me, aside from the practical uses of name change in India, it is an emotional bond, a shared family, that ties all things together. I am quite a traditionalist when it comes to some things, i enjoy a traditional courtship, the whole - going-down-on-your-knees proposal, and opening of doors and carrying of heavy stuff by the guy, ( translating this to our modern life - filling petrol in my car and washing my car, changing the bulbs and cleaning the fans, repair of electrical and mechanical things - by the man!). Changing my name does not mean letting go of my independence, it is a means to greater responsibilities and more independent decisions. I am not letting go of all my values, my identity and things i believe in, on the other hand, i am adding to it, and enriching it in the process.

And i would definitely not want to go down the road of - why should girls change their names and not boys, because, you see, the whole thing is not about ego - but Love!




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