Naming Conventions in South India

With the launch of thousands of new Indian names on Namey this week in time for Diwali, what better time to take a look at naming conventions in the Indian subcontinent.

In India, being such a vast and diverse country, there are many ways of doing things – and that goes for naming traditions too. India’s population is over 1 billion people and growing. They speak a wide variety of languages and dialects and nearly every religion in the world is represented in India. This creates a very rich and interesting culture – and with that comes a variety of names and naming styles. Names in India are influenced by religion, region, caste and epics.

As its Diwali this week, instead of trying to cover all naming traditions in India, we are going to start this series of blog posts about Indian naming conventions with a spotlight on South Indian naming traditions with roots in Hindu culture.

South India Naming Conventions

There is no default naming tradition in South India, however, the vast majority of people look to religion (i.e. names of Gods) to help them name their children.  A very popular naming tradition for men in South India would be <Given Name> <Father’s First Name> <Ancestral Origin> <Caste> <Gotra>.

Given Name

A person’s given name is the name they are most likely to use and it can consist of more than one name in South India. The given name is either derived from the names of numerous deity’s or family elders or the rasi (zodiac sign) or naksakthra (star) that he/she was born under. With the given name, parents can be creative and use a baby naming app, like Namey, to find given names based on other’s family’s names.

Father’s Name

Father’s name is sometimes used in the states of Tamil Nadu, Maharashtra and various others in the region.

Ancestral Origin

Ancestral origin denotes the roots of the family and is an important part of the naming convention. It acts as a family lineage and helps identify families.


The Caste system in India was a way to categorise the society based on the predominant occupation. Kshatriyas were the ruling class, Brahmins were the teachers and priests and ministers, Vaishyas were the traders and the Shudras were the manual labourers. The Reddy surname denotes Kshatriyas/ Kings, while the Sharma name was associated with Brahmins.


In Hindu society, the term gotra means clan. It refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male lineage from a common male ancestor. For example, a person with Bharadwaja gotra is a descendant of the Bharadwaja maharishi.

As you can see, south Indian Hindu names can be long and often follow an opulent set of rules. Sometimes, people with South Indian names shorten their last two names to just initials, like in other parts of the world, i.e. USA.

Let us know your experience of Indian naming conventions by commenting in the box below.

In celebration of Diwali 2017 and the launch of Indian names on Namey, you can download Namey Premium for FREE until 22 October 2017. With 1,000’s of new Indian names added last week, you’ll find plenty of baby name inspiration during the Hindu festival of light.


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