What’s in a TamBrahm Name? by Anand

By Anand Kumar

What’s in a Tambrahm name? To answer this question we have to first ask which name. Because for time immemorial, a Tambrahm person will never have just one name. He will have a pet name at home, an official name for official records and then there is another name which is a surukified version of the official name. So surukified that one cannot find any semblance of the official name in it. Fortunately this generations of Tambrahms have escaped the Surukified names but in our ‘paattaas’ and Kollu paattas’ generation, this was at its peak!
So in those days, when a child is born, the name has to be that of a God. First things first. No Ashok, Anand, Aryan business. And if it’s a male child, he is named after the paternal paatta or maternal paatta depending upon how manyeth child he is. And that Paataa’s name will be a Sivan or a Krishnan,… One can understand if for pet name sake Sivaramakrishnan is called as Siva or Ramakrishnan is called as Rama,… But it has to be only in Tambrahm community that you will find very interesting pet names.
So Ramakrishnan becomes Ramachan

Krishnan becomes Kichan. If there are many Krishnan’s the junior one becomes Kicha Kuttan

Parameshwaran is Pammechu or Pappa

A nice name – kept after Lord Vishnu, Venkatachalam usually becomes Vengacham!
Venkatakrishnan or Venkataraman ends up being Vengidy!

Ramachandran is often Ramendran

Subramanian becomes Mani and since there are usually many Subramanis around – Chinna Mani, Mani, Valia Mani,…

This is o.k. But Subramani becoming Chuppa Mani?? This also happens!

Vishwanathan is straight forward – Vishwam

And many times not so straight and becomes Vichu

Janardhanan – Neat and simple – Jana

Seshadri invariably is Seshu

Narayanan is most often Nana and Narayanan is also Nanu!!!

And there are other typical names which you will find only in Tambrahm lexicon like
Athan Kutty
Ambi Kuttan
Appu Kutty

Similar naming happens for the other gender as well.

Like the nice goddess name Lakshmi becoming Yechumi for example!!  I tried to find out from many elders the origin of this kind of naming but in vain. If you know the answer, please do tell. And if you have other names which have their pet names, please add to the list.

Postscript: With the obvious propensity of twisting name with “chu” in the end, wonder what will happen if any Tambrahm had the name “Chudamani”?? – Chuchu???

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14 thoughts on “What’s in a TamBrahm Name? by Anand

  1. An issue that often crops up is that of a family name. Brahmins have stopped using Iyer or Iyengar with their names. Further religious titles Shastri, Gurukkal, Avadhani, Dikshitar etc are also in disuse. Being Brahmins all Iyers and Iyengars have a Gotra. All those with a Sacred thread should know the Abhivadye. The Gotra could be used as a last name.

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  2. In my family we were all given alternate names. And most people end up knowing us by those names. Myname is shortented to the rather insufferable Athiya because they cant be bothered to pronounce the 2 syllabled Adithya, a name given for the primary reason that they couldn’t call me Padmanabhan in front of my granddad because obviously that is his name as well. My dad and his sisters,my mother and her brother all have “official” names but literally no one save a few bank employees know them by that name.

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  3. My periappa who was Ananthasubramania Iyer was fondly called “Ananthasuppu” or even shorter “anthasuppu” by few. My paatti Lokanayaki was known as “ulagu paatti”, we too had chachu (Saraswathi) akka in neighbourhood. Tambrahm rocks 🙂

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  4. Oh wow! I started smiling at the very beginning of the article. For the person who asked who are pichakuti – well earlier there was a tradition of ‘madi pichai’ – mother’s used to take a vow maybe because of various miscarriages or if one of their children were very ill – they used to only cook and eat what they would get as ‘pichai’ or alms! The children used to be named pichakuti /pichamani etc to avoid the evil eye!
    Chachu is Saraswati.
    For all my sins I named my son Om (uncommon in the Iyer community) – one maami looked at my then 6 month old and told him ‘ ennada onnodu ammai appa ippidi paer vechuruka? Ellarum onna omapodi koopuda pora!

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  5. Padma becomes BATHMA and Shanti becomes CHANDHEE

    never mind the holier than thou comments from some mamas & mamies mocking the English language ‘P U T -put & B U T -but’

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  6. Sreenivasan becomes seeni or Sreeni. fair skinned Sreenivasan was seppu cheeni. short statured Sreenivasan was Kuttai Cheeni. Dark skinned Sreenivasan was karuppu Cheeni. Fat sreenivasan became gundu cheeni

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  7. Vaidhyanathan- vaithi
    Natarajan- Natani
    Doraswamy- docha/dorai
    Panchabakeshan- panchami
    Seethalakshmi- cheedu
    Rajalakshmi?-rasham
    Parvathi- ponni
    Ananthapadmanabhan- anandhu.

    Now there are some names which I don’t get- (palakkad Iyer names I guess.)
    What is pichakuti? What is chachu?

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  8. Hi, My son’s name is Venkatachalam.His friends call him Vengi or Venkat.Akhileshwaran called Ayili.Subbambal called chuppamba.Subramanian is called Chupamani also.Some call them Subbu.

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  9. To sum up this all, there can be another name which is not et all related to any of names of god/ actual name/ thata name etc .. my cousin’s name is vaman iyer (paata name) and others know him as vaaman but we call him ‘murugan anna’ !!! strange

    There is another instance where in my gramam (pyngattery gramam, mananthavadi, wayanad) there are many kuttans – rajesh kuttan, dinesh kuttan, mysore kuttan (which is me) and there are many vinod’s who are distinguished by their dad’s name as suffix or their tharavaad name/ most known person in family – doreyan vinod (dorai mama’s son), echiyatha vinod (my cousin – echi is my great grand mother), kalathila vinod (who resides in kalam – farm house kind of) etc …

    And MANY MORE

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