NAMKARAN, naming or name choosing, is in Sikh tradition the ceremony whereby a child first receives his or her name. The ceremony involves both the selection of the name and its public application to the child within the social context of the Sikh community. This is the first of the three Sikh life cycle rituals, the other two being marriage and funeral observances. The time of the naming ceremony is left to the judgement of die parents, though Bhai Kahn Singh, Gurushabad Ratandkar Mahdn Kosh, says it should be within forty days of birth which limitation however is not strictly adhered to in actual practice. The ceremony itself is simple. At the time chosen, the parents bring the child to the presence of the Guru Granth Sahib. This may be after the usual daily service in a gurudwara. If chosen to be more elaborate, the ceremony may take place at the conclusion of a completed reading, akhandpath accomplished within forty-eight hours of uninterrupted recitation of the Guru Granth Sahib in the gurudwara or at home.

The ministering granthior any other revered Sikh will mix amrit, stirring it with a kirpdn and reciting the first five stanzas from the Japu. Ardds is then said. The ceremony underscores the idea that the name received by the child has the sanction of the Guru and the community, that it has essentially been bestowed upon the recipient by them. The names chosen are generally characterized by the aroma of Sikh teaching and history and not un often are taken out of the Sikh Scripture.

They may signify qualities such as devotion, humility and heroism. Among names indicative of the Sikh spiritual ideals and pious aspirations, a few of the common ones are: Harbhajan Singh, Harnam Singh. Harcharan Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Gurdial Singh, Hardial Singh, Joginder Singh, Sant Singh. Representing names of the Divine are Ram Singh, Kishan (Krsna) Singh, Bishan (Visnu) Singh, Bhagvan Singh, Gobind Singh, Indar Singh, Narain Singh; those representing moral and spiritual qualities Santokh Singh, Prem Singh, Dharam Singh, Gian Singh, Satnam Singh, Parkash Singh, Gurdas Singh, Gurmukh Singh, Simrat Singh, Satbir Singh, Satpal Singh.

Some of the Sikh names expressive of heroism are: Kharak Singh Jodh Singh, Ajit Singh, Ranjit Singh, Jujhar Singh, Fauja Singh, Bahadur Singh, Vir Singh. Some draw on history and legend and on the objects of nature and. thus, we have Dara Singh, Sikandar Singh, Rustam Singh, Tola Singh, Baj Singh, Sher Singh, Kikkar Singh, Pahara Singh, Gariga Singh. Mon ths contribute some names: Ghct Singh.

Basakha Singh, Maghar Singh, Savan Singh, along with Basant Singh as do cities and towns: Lahaura Singh, Pashaura Singh, Kashmira Singh, Multana Singh, Ajmer Singh and Kabul Singh. Mention in the name of one`s caste or surname is disapproved, though this prohibition is not strictly followed.A person bearing a distinctive name as individual may be referred to by his caste or domicile name or by some other attribute. Thus some leading Sikhs have been known as Ahluvalia, Ramgarhia, Dhillon, Grcval, Siddhu, Sandharivalia (caste/ gotra names), as Nagoke, Kairori, Jalalusmari, Majhail, Badal, Tauhra, Rarevala, Talvandi (domicile) orKirpan Bahadur (appellation), Sheri Punjab (after a newspaper).

Sometimes nicknames have become surnames, e.g. Ainaki, one who wears ainak (spectacles), Dhiddal with a paunch, Lamma extraordinary tall, and so on. In the choice of names a process of evolution has been at work, generally from simpler to the more elaborate ones.The current popularity of compound and sophisticated names is owed to the increased emphasis on Sikh identity; also perhaps to greater concern for euphony and grandeur. Most modern names are composed of two or more words combined to sound like one word, signifying generally heroism, self sacrifice, devotion to the Guru or the principles the Guru inculcated.

The patterns into which Sikh names usually fall would make an interesting language study as also a study of the ideals cherished. In choosing names among the Sikhs, both fancy and eclecticism play their part.Names from the Perso Arabic Muslim background such as Shamsher Singh, Shahbeg Singh, Bakhtavar Singh, Shahbaz Singh, Sardar Singh, Zorawar Singh, Fateh Singh, Iqbal Singh, Hukam Singh, and Hakim Singh. Among those suggestive of European background may be counted Angrez Singh, Major Singh, Karnail Singh andJarnail Singh.

As compared with males, there is less variety in female names, which often adhere to objects of aesthetic experience or moral qualities. Examples: Resham Kaur, Gulab Kaur, Surain Kaur, Satvant Kaur, Sumittar Kaur, Sundar Kaur, Sushil Kaur, and Mahtab Kaur. These have their counterparts among male names as well.

References :

1. Jogendra Singh, Sikh Ceremonies. Bombay, 1941
2. Teja Singh, Sikhism: Its Ideals and Institutions. Bombay, 1937
3. Cole, W. Owen, and Piara Singh Sambhi, The Sikhs: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. Delhi, 1978
4. Sikh Rahit Maryada. Amritsar, 1975
5. Kahn Singh, Gurushabad Ratanakar Mahan Kosh [Reprint]. Patiala, 1981