I remember the day that I found out I was having a baby girl! I had wanted a daughter since I could remember. I stared at that ultrasound picture and thought “OK now this is getting real” The planning could officially start!
The Sikh tradition is to wait until the day the baby is born and visit the Gurdwara where the Guru Granth Sahib ( Holy Book) is opened at random and the passage first letter becomes the child’s first letter of the name. This works in India because couples are given years to officially name their child. It is common for infants to go without names for months until the parents pick out the perfect one. In the United States you have to have the name legally recorded on the Birth Certificate before you leave the hospital. I was not prepared to name my child in one day! I knew it was going to take time!
I had lists of names that I had thought up since I was eight years old. They were all long, majestic, and historical. All the traditions that my four letter name was not. Names like Katherine, Alexandria, Guinevere, and Magdalena.
I knew that when I married my Indian husband our cultures would be merged, but for some reason I totally neglected to think about the idea of our future child’s name. As we brainstormed names, we realized that the process was alot more complicated than it might first appear.
The traditional Punjabi names my husband suggested sounded so foreign to my ears. I could not even say most of the names correctly. I could not imagine calling my daughter any of these names. I knew my American family definitely could not say these names and we had to think about her future in American schools as well. I did not want her to be the kid that has to repeat her name ten times to have it pronounced correctly.
As we discussed Western name options, we ran into the same problems. My husband had no emotional connection with these foreign names and his family would not be able to pronounce the unfamiliar sound combinations. It was a frustrating process to be honest! We enlisted the help of our families. Both the American and the Punjabi sides of the family started to scour the internet, baby name books, and friends for name ideas.
The requirements for the name were;
1. Had to be properly pronounced by both sides of the family
2. Had to have a nice meaning
3. Had to be unique, because face it she was going to be one unique little girl!
We must have looked at thousands of names! One day my sister in law sent me a list of names in an email. My husband and I looked at them together. We each had veto power over names, which meant that if one of us did not like it then it would not go through. We scanned the names, and my eye caught the name Nazarene. I said it out loud and I liked it! I loved it actually. My husband like it as well. That night we went online and talked to his family in India. We talked about that name, we all liked it. I was overjoyed we finally sound a name! We decided on a different spelling for a softer version that sounded more Punjabi.
My daughter’s name is Nasreen Kaur
Nasreen is a Persian name meaning “Wild Rose”
My Grandmother’s was named Rose. I loved her dearly. She was 4 “11 but had the personality of a women much taller. She grew up on a farm. She used to tell me this story of she stole her dads truck when she was just 8 years old! Her and her brother had to take turns steering and pushing on the break or gas because neither could do both at the same time! When I was a kid my grandmother was so fierce but so loving! I admired her strength and tenacity! This name and its meaning was like a tribute to that women I loved so much!
There have been some people that have been shocked that our daughter’s name is neither Punjabi or American, but Persian There was a time right after I had Nasreen that my husband actually wanted to change her name to something that was more traditionally Punjabi. Some people had made hurtful comments about her “Muslim” name not being apart of the Sikh traditions. He was having second thoughts about our choice. We talked in great length and concluded that this was our daughter and we loved the name and did not care that others had comments.
Nasreen’s middle name is Kaur. Which is the middle name given to all Sikh girls. It means “Princess” or “Always Pure”. In 1699, Guru Gobind Singh, the tenth Guru of the Sikhs gave the last name ‘Kaur’ to women and ‘Singh’ to the men ( meaning lion). This was intended to end the caste system and social stratification that was common in the Hindu traditions. Sikhs above all else believe in complete equality under God. In Indian society, an individual’s name reveals his or her caste. Kaur and Singh were meant to unite all the people equally. Kaur was also given to Sikh Women to establish an identity independent of their father or husband.
There are some people who mispronounce Nasreen’s name, but most people get it right after we correct them once. It sounds just like it is spelled.
Nasreen is four now and I believe she fully embodies her name. She is beautiful, strong, unique, passionate, resilient, and so loving. She stands out from both Punjabi kids and American kids because she is her own special kind of mix.