Hindu Names for American Babies

Hindu Names for American Babies October 28, 2015

We have been thinking a lot about baby names recently. Hindu tradition is that you wait to name a baby until after it is born. The astrological chart is used to determine the best syllable to start the name with. We have decided, however, to follow American tradition of having names picked out and ready.

I want my children to have a Hindu name. They don’t necessarily have to go by it but I’d like them to have the option. I also decided that I would pick Hindu names that are easy for Americans to pronounce. So my criteria for the names we pick are that they are on the shorter side and correlate with American pronunciation “rules.” I love Indian names and this is not in any way a criticism of long, gorgeous Indian names. I just felt like for my white American kids it would make sense for them to have names that resonate with both their American identity and their Hindu identity.

So here are some ideas for those who would also like to find Hindu names that are relatively easy for Americans to deal with!

Girl

Aarti “worship”

Asha “hope”

Amba “Parvati”

Anjali “offering”

Bindu “point”

Chandra “moon” (Also, I believe, a Jewish name)

Daya “kindness”

Devina “like a Goddess”

Gita “song”

Jaya “victory”

Kavita “poem”

Lata “vine”

Mala “garland”

Meera “a devotee of Krishna”

Mina “fish”

Nisha “night”

Puja “prayer”

Rani “queen”

Rima “Durga”

Sangita “music”

Sashi “moon”

Shanti “peace”

Sona “gold”

Boy

Aadi “important”

Aalok “victory”

Amar “imortal”

Amit “endless”

Deep “light” (or Deepak)

Dev “divinity”

Ganesh

Hari

Krishan

Kumar “son”

Madesh or Mahesh “Lord Shiva”

Mohan “charming”

Naveen “new”

Praveen “expert”

Raj “king”

Samir “wind”

Sanjay “victorious”

Shiv or Shivan

A note on the name Dharma. It should be a boy’s name but there was a popular sitcom in the U.S. called Dharma & Greg and the main character named Dharma was the wife. I think particularly because it ends in an “a” it is seen as a woman’s name in America.

And the names that we are probably going to use:

Girl: Priya Ilana

Priya means “dearest” and Ilana is for my close friend who died six years ago. I’ve known ever since I lost her that I would name a daughter after her.

Boy: Garrick Ravi

Garrick is a family name on Brad’s side and is Scottish. He’s always wanted to name a son that. Ravi means “sun” and also has connotations of Lord Surya, brilliance, and intelligence.


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  • Lokesh

    Anita, Maya, Rita, Jay, Shan are both Indian and European. Would fit in both the worlds.

    “Dharma & Greg” was hilarious 🙂

    Kiran “Light” male/female
    Vikas “change/development”
    Vikram “brave”
    Prem “Love” Male
    Prema “Love” female
    Roopa
    Arjun

    Arya “noble” male/female

    • Gotta be careful with Arya/Aryan with white people… thanks SO MUCH Hitler 🙁 But Aria/Arya is coming back as a girls’ name probably because of Game of Thrones.

      I love these names, they are all good and mostly easy to pronounce… you’d think … but I can guarantee that Vikram and Vikas would confuse people here. Vikram is usually mispronounced as Vik-RAAAM and Vikas would just confuse people. Viccous? Vie-kaus? It is super simple from a Hindi pronunciation perspective but English is a funny language …..

      • Lokesh

        “thanks SO MUCH Hitler”, He did ruin it, didn’t he 🙁 He ruined it for Swastika as well. It must shock westerners when they come to India and see Swastika everywhere.

        “Vik-RAAAM”

        Hih:). I did think of Ram as well. but he would of course get teased a lot in the school for that.

      • Ambaa

        Arya is definitely going to come back into fashion from Game of Thrones!

    • Ambaa

      Great suggestions!

      I guess I also don’t want a name that is easily seen as something not Hindu like Anita or Jay, etc. I’m very picky!

      Maya makes me laugh because I don’t think I want to name someone after the illusion of the world that we all struggle to see beyond!

  • M Raghavan

    Rohit is one that’s popular among second generation Indian Americans. It means first rays of the sun.

    Shriya means lucky, another popular name.

    • Ambaa

      Those are nice!

  • satyam kumar

    “kalki” tenth and final avatar of lord vishnu, u can even use avatar means form

    • Ambaa

      It sounds so fierce!

  • Maya Resnikoff

    Chandra is not, to my rather extensive experience, a Jewish name in any way. I don’t even know how I’d go about spelling/pronouncing it as such. There is a Hebrew name that means moon, but it’s Levana.

    • skyblue

      There was a woman named Chandra Levy who was in the U.S. news some years ago (a politician’s intern who went missing and was found murdered). That story came to mind when I read the name, and the combination of “Chandra + Jewish last name” might be the source of the association there.

      • Ambaa

        That is exactly who I was thinking of. I thought there was another one too, but maybe not. Perhaps her parents just liked that name?

  • dr.viraj pradhan

    Meera means OCEAN,shiv–Auspicious,Mahesh–greater lord,Ganesh–lord of the group( group of organs than constitute our body AND so Ganesh is our own soul ,without whose presence the group of organs will be dead)Aaadi-First,Aamba–mother,Sangeetaa–melodious—–There is a website PITARAU.COM which gives the meaning each of Samskroot names.

  • Nicole Williams

    In the Netflix show orange is the new black Dayanara Diaz shortens her name to Daya.

    • Ambaa

      True! I thought of that as I wrote it 🙂

  • Tamara Amrita Powers

    What about having the Nam Puja for your child? When I was given my Hindu name “Amrita”, it was from the Pundit.

    • Ambaa

      That’s a great idea. I actually had not considered doing it but it would be nice for our child to have that. Kind of like a baptism in a way.

  • If you are concerned about how the names will be accepted by people not familiar with Sanskrit-derived names, write the names down and see if some of your friends not familiar with Indian culture can pronounce them…. anything they refuse to pronounce is out. Anything mispronounced, say it for them and then if they butcher it AFTER HEARING IT, it’s also out 😛

    • Ambaa

      Good idea!

  • Amar

    you are not sure, that baby is a boy or a girl? I’m sure it is too early. generally people here ask name from the Pandit, when he is done with naamkaran sanskar (नामकरण संस्कार), it’s all upto you.
    http://www.awgp.org/spiritual_wisdom/sacramental_rites/namkaran_sanskar

    • Ambaa

      Yeah, it’s too early to know yet. We’ll know in about two more months. Feels like a long time to wait!

  • Kumar

    Aalok (or Alok) आलोक means light.

  • Are you limiting yourself to Sanskrit-derived names? Names of Dravidian origin (e.g., Tamil/Telugu names) are also good, especially if you are in any way connected to South India. That said, I presume it is harder to find good Dravidian names that are also pronounceable by English-speaking Americans. (I am realizing this challenge myself as I enter my seventh month of pregnancy with a half-Tamil son.)

  • Meenakshi

    Yay! So exciting! You guys seem to be following the same approach we did: our 11 week old boy is Arjuna John. Arjuna for obvious reasons and John because my dad & father-in-law both have the first name of John, and my husband & brother both carry it as a middle name. To “Americanize” it for those who need it, he’ll go by AJ.

  • SK

    I am not sure if Dharma is necessarily a boy’s name. Apparently, emperor Ashoka’s mother was also known as Dharma (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subhadrangi) .

    Here is something else for a girl’s name :
    “Seventeen of the seers to whom the hymns of the RigVeda were revealed were women — rishikas and brahmavadinis. They were Romasa,Lopamudra, Apata, Kadru, Vishvavara, Ghosha, Juhu, Vagambhrini, Paulomi, Jarita,Shraddha-Kamayani, Urvashi, Sharnga, Yami, Indrani, Savitri and Devayani. TheSama Veda mentions another four: Nodha (or Purvarchchika), Akrishtabhasha,
    Shikatanivavari (or Utararchchika) and Ganpayana.”

    Obviously some of them are too complicated or not well-known. But some other might do.

  • Breanna

    Naveen is the name of the prince in Disney’s The Princess and the Frog. People might associate that name with the Disney film.

  • Sarah

    My daughter is a Chandra. She has an American middle name because I wanted her name to reflect both halves of her inherited culture – an Indian name for her father’s family, and American one for mine. We did the traditional Hindu way of naming, though.

    Congratulations, by the way. I have been on and off reading and the last posts I read, you were still trying. I’m so happy for you!

  • Vishal Khatri

    MEANING OF SANSKRIT GIRL NAMES
    # Oghavati ओघवती- ‘having strong streams’.It was the name of a river. Here ओघ means strong stream + वती as a suffix means one having
    $ Ojomaani / Ojomani ओजोमानी- Name of a plant
    # Odika ओडिका- wild rice
    $ Odrakhyaa ओड्राख्या- the China Rose
    # Omanvati / Omanwati ओमन्वती- helping, propitious, useful. It is feminine form of ओमन्वत्
    $ Omyaa ओम्या- help, kindness, favour
    # Omyavati / Omyawati ओम्यावती- helping, useful, favouable. Here ओम्या means help , favour + वती as a suffix means one who does, one who has
    $ Ovili / Owili ओविली- that in which the upper part of churning-stick turns
    # Omila ओमिला- protector, friend. It is feminine of ओमिल
    $ Omana ओमना- protector, friend, helper