A rose is a rose is a bloody rose. Okay? Okay

After the Manyata/Dilnavaz/Sara-Sanjay Dutt surname controversy I had a chat with this young man who seems like a sweet, harmless old fossil – who pointed out that it takes little to keep peace. And if a woman is joining a man’s family, why not take his name yaada yaada… Just to keep peace.

That’s it. No better reason, but peace. Here’s my question – why does peacekeeping always fall to the woman?

I tuned out during his session of gyan because I realised that he was so mistaken in his basic premise that there seemed little point in going on.

Women today no longer just join a man’s family like staff. Marriage is an equal partnership where the man is also becoming a part of her family. In which case, why not mutually exchange names along with vows and leave it at that?

Today, man and woman both leave their parental homes and set up one of their own, based on mutual respect and equality. How hard is that to understand? Even if not physically – you do set up the concept of a new family together.

Men need to either keep up with the times and understand that, or then get left behind and wonder what the hell hit them.


Okay so I wrote this post and being the kind of issue it is, it never does end. Funnily it came up a few times more. My PAN card is a mess. My dad has this loooong name which includes his first name, father’s name, village name and a bunch of other jazz which most of the time does nothing but add to administrative issues. All his official papers have different names and sometimes initials for a few of them. As a result my PAN card which has his name, doesnt tally with his PAN card and now I’m going nuts cutting through red tape to get it. It hasn’t mattered all this while but now that I have a steady income, I need it desperately and I’m cursing my dad for having kept 4 names that he displays randomly as the mood posseses him.

I spoke to the income tax call centre today and the lady was as frustrated as me as we went through the documentation. We realised that on every bit of proof we have various permutations and combinations of his name. I’m tempted to quit work and not earn a rupee  just to save myself this running around. Between the Brat’s admissions, my eff-ed up knee, my job, the Bean’s health and a planned move to shift out of this third floor house, I am standing on my own last remaining nerve.

The lady finally frayed it by saying, ‘You know ma’am, don’t mind but your father’s name is too long and there is too much scope for mistakes. Please re-apply with your husband’s name.’

I hung up slowly after thanking her. And I was just so tired. It’s as though I’m nobody without my husband’s name or father’s name. Yes, I know this is a process that even the husband goes through – he must always fill his father’s name. But I’m tired of how patriachal it is.

What if I want to fill my mother’s name? For one thing she’s a darn sight better organised than my father, has all her documentation in place, and has just a first name and surname. It would be the simplest thing on earth to apply with her forms as proof. But no, it must be either my father or husband. Both of whom have their endless village  name, father’s name and God alone knows what else that they add and subtract, making every bit of identity proof a pain in the arse.

What if my parents are divorced and I dont want to use my father’s name and I’m single and have no husband’s name to give? Why don’t the columns read Parent/Spouse’s name instead of Father/Husband’s name?

Here’s a better question? Why oh why do I have to get a PAN card?


I think the mistake we make in this endless debate, as in many others, is believing that if I’m not for you, I’m against you. Well this isn’t one of those. A woman’s name is her own business. It begins and ends at her doorstep. If she is okay with changing it, nobody has a right to tell her she is regressive. If she doesn’t want to change it, nobody has a right to tell her she is a rebel.

This conversation came up again with friends and a couple of them said that their surname wasn’t their identity so they didn’t mind changing it. ‘My name is not my identity and changing it won’t change the person I am’ they said.

I beg to differ. It’s definitely not my identity, but it’s part of my identity. You wouldn’t have randomly changed it before marriage either – right? Because it WAS important to you.

It’s just a question of the times and social conditioning. A 100 years ago even the first name was changed after marriage and most women meekly accepted it. I’d like to see anyone changing their first name today meekly just because their inlaws say so. I know a lot of families still give that new first name as part of the custom, but how many women in our generation do you know, in your own social circle, who have taken on the new first name and are referred to by it and introduce themselves by it? Or changed their official papers to their new first name? Or told all their friends to call them by the new name?

Similarly, we women of this generation have grown up accepting that surnames will be changed. There is no inner tussle in the head or the heart. But our first names – well that we were told we’d have for life and I can bet you we’d have a huge issue accepting it being changed. We accept the surname as fait accompli because we’re conditioned to believe that its okay. Which is fine. When we were kids, all families had the same surname. But things are changing.

Families no longer belong to the same community. They’re a mix of Bengali, Tamilian, Bihari, Mizo, Goan, Haryanvi… so many combinations. The entire definition of a family is a new one. They’re a mix of religions. (Did anyone see the Republic day issue of HT Brunch? Story on the Alvas and another family  – mix of so many religions and communities). They no longer eat the same thing. In the same family I’ve seen the Jains eat different food, some people eat egg, others eat meat and yet others eat beef and pork. So even the dining table holds different food for the various members. The people sitting around the table worship or believe in different Gods or different avatars. So the name perhaps, is the least of the issues. How does it matter if we carry different second names?

Do people with the same surname not have fights? Do they not get divorced? Do they not fight over property? Do they not have affairs and cheat on their spouses? Does it give enough of a family feel to not harass DILs for dowry? Does it make you feel enough of a family to support your wife and split the housework? Does it make fathers attend school functions that their kids are in?

I see some women who change their surnames but insist on every single tiny custom being done the way they’ve always done it in their parental home. This is not a generalisation – its just that changing your name is not really a sign of wanting to fit into a family. The attitude should be one of willing to adjust and be a part of it. A simple name change means nothing more than that.

There are all sorts of people and the way they behave isn’t governed by their surname. A few days ago we were househunting and the broker was slightly rude to the OA. The OA gave it back politely but I went at the broker like a tigress and the OA had to calm me down and drag me away, reminding me that we needed the broker. I didn’t care. We lost the best house because of my hot headedness but I wasn’t going to stand by and watch some asshole give my husband lip. And we don’t share a surname. But I can’t imagine feeling anymore of a family than we already do. I loved him 8 years ago when we had different surnames and nothing’s changed. I can’t imagine loving my husband or my children anymore than I love them right now –  I feel it come rushing up my stomach and burning my insides. If I loved them any more, I’d implode!

All this, is not to say that women shouldn’t change their surnames. But to say that keeping the same surname makes you feel more like a family is just a specious argument. You feel like a family because you are one. Nothing can change that. Not the food you eat, the God you pray to or the name you keep.

If you want to change your name because you were conditioned to do so and you think there is no harm – why that’s a fair enough reason. If you do so because you like the sound of Mr and Mrs Agarwal – good for you again. If you do so because you love your inlaws and think its a small gesture to keep them happy – good for you. If you think it would keep your husband happy and make him feel more like the head of the house – good on you again.

But don’t tell me it will make you more or less of a family. Don’t tell me it will make the kids misfits. And don’t tell me that a man doesnt equally marry into his wife’s family. I don’t want to hear it.

PS: Disclaimer for those who will be sure to come running and imagining things. I have no issues with those who change their surnames. I fight for their right to do that just as I fight for my right to keep mine. I do have an issue with statements that reflect badly by implication – that not changing my name is either disrespectful to my husband (what respect ? he’s an equal), will leave my kids feeling like misfits ( really – and have you never seen families with the same surname where the entire family hates each other and have no communication or relationship?) or any other such crap. Actually – go ahead. Tell me, and make my day as I rip each ridiculous argument to pieces.


88 thoughts on “A rose is a rose is a bloody rose. Okay? Okay

  1. Yesterday, my FIL, who is a real sweetheart most of the time, presented me with a book. And inside, it said “To Clueless K’slastname”.

    I did not have the heart to point it out to him, but K did. And when I came home, I just changed the name to “Clueless Chick”. I am tired of explaining to people that I am not rejecting K’s family, just like he is not rejecting mine when he decides to keep his last name. And yes, K’s last name is shorter and easier, but if our last names were switched, would they expect K to take my last name because it is easier?

    And, I have decided that my kids are going to have my name as their middle initial. Heck, I deserve representation too!

    Me: my kids have my last name as part of their surname too!

  2. A suggestion for your PAN card issue. Take a few affidavits from your father, mother and a relative present at the time of your birth and legally change your name to whatever you want it to be. That way, you can refer to the name change document instead of them matching it to your dad’s / OA’s last names.

  3. I agree with you. My name is my business and what I do with it is my call not anyone else’s.
    And the whole thing about “peace” too. That’s just an arm twisting technique to get the woman to cower and do things to keep everyone happy.
    The peace issue gets me all riled up though…rightly said. Why is it always the woman’s responsibility to keep peace, to mingle with the inlaws, to be a daughter to them? What about the man…how about being a son for a change and not act distant all the time?

    What a farce! GAH…I’m up in arms now…

  4. You are in a mood to fight, arent you? Until I reached the last line I was thinking “Isnt the MM trolled out already on this topic?”

    Do put up the nasty ones as and when they arrive while I sit back and refresh your page every few hours.

  5. Agree with you 100% Both me & my mom have our own surnames ( being south indian, the father’s name). A sense of belonging does not come on the first day after marriage, just by the name change. I have heard some say that the last name should be changed because, after marriage you become the ‘moral’ responsibilty of your husband/husband’s family. Bah ! As if the parents have literally washed off their hands. It’s the girl’s parents who have to adhere to umpteen formalities of gifting the daughter’s new household on various occassions. In many families the DIL is not even treated fairly, even if she has changed her name. If name is not an important part of ur identity, then why even bother to change it?
    And, what are our women politicians (including our president) doing ?

  6. I just loved when you said “he was so wrong in his basic premise”…don’t we meet so many people like that on daily basis it’s like gosh I can’t believe I am having this conversation with you. I agree with you on changing the last name part. I didn’t change mine after the wedding and at work people call me Dr. maiden name. I guess my reasoning is that I did so much to get where I am profesionally and my family played a huge part in it. So even though my husband was there for me during tough times of med school still I got here because of me and it would be wrong to take up his name because Dr. Married name to me seems like he got me there somehow and that wasn’t the case.

    If someone changes their name after the wedding I do not think any less of them. I don’t care what is the reason they have to change their name, it’s their choice be it repressive, submissive, cultural, feminist, don’t give a shit, I mean to each their own.

    But you do raise good points. You are an example of well read, not eager to accept social norms, modern take on an Indian woman of 2009. Good for you!

  7. MM,

    This sh** with the PAN card happens because our bl***y beauracracy cannot get its act together! There was a judgment back in 1999 that allowed both parents as the natural guardians of the child – Gita Hariharan vs. RBI. The IT dept has to issue a directive and new forms with the new format – until then, the old forms which have only Father’s name on it keep causing issues.
    The Gita Hariharan case is quoted endlessly in court cases where some poor sod wants badly enough to use their mother’s name instead of their father’s name in a form/procedure/what-have-you, and courts now almost by default rule in favor of the petitioner, but until the forms are changed this issue will not go away! Just google the case – you’ll see refs to passport apps, various forms, bank apps etc.

    But I am confused – did you have a PAN card before you were married? (I thought PAN cards came in quite recently, certainly much after I left the country) – because my understanding was that the PAN card has the husband’s name in the case of a married woman – equally galling, but no, no courtcase against it exists that I know of.

    Me: I applied. I got the number. The card got lost in transit. ANd I cant get it again because by then my dad applied for his too and got the wrong damn spelling in his name. My dad is the root cause of all trouble 😀

    As for surnames being part of your identity pre-marriage, I just want to put in a plug for the small minority of us who didn’t have a formal surname until public exam forms required it – the form was due right that day, and I arbitrarily tacked on my father’s given name as my last name – I knew girls who added their native town, and one whose last name became Devi as she wrote her name that way 🙂
    I imagine some of these women didn’t care what their new surnames were, as their old surnames didn’t mean much to them either!

    FWIW, we did feel the need of a common last name once the kids came along – we had anticipated this, and gave N the last name we decided to use as a “family” last name when he was born. Both of us then changed our last names – the initial paperwork was a bit of a pain but not too traumatic. IME, hyphenated names or double names as last name work only when the number of syllables is small or the names succint enough to be pronounced easily together…I doubt Konkona would have gotten away with Bose Dwivedi as a last name instead of Sen Sharma 🙂
    And I know of *very* few men secure enough to take on their wives’ last name – leaving in most cases, the woman with the awkward or different last name, and the man and kids with one last name…as you’ve mentioned yourself – in that sense, I can see the argument of a common name defining a family unit.

    Long, rambling comment – I can ask my father if there have been any clarifications re: the mother’s name in PAN card deal.


  8. Holy c*** – that was a LONG comment – sorry – I really shouldn’t write when hopped up on decongestants.


  9. Oh MM … you really seem to have had it hard !! The post is heart felt and passion on the issue is felt through out the post.
    Completely agree with you on the name thing … had written a post sometime back on the same … but you have written way better than I ever would !

    As for the first name / last name … well each of us in my family, Me, BP and the kids have our own individual first and last name … howz that ??? :))

  10. Dear MM,

    I agree with you!! Although I will admit that this is one of those issues which bothers me less than others. I am an Indian living in the US, and the 1st doc that I had to use for all my paperwork was my passport. We decided it was too much of a hassle to change names after marriage (although I wasn’t against doing it).. and so just to avoid the hassle, I kept to my maiden name. That’s it.. one doc after the other got issued with my maiden name..
    As far as people referring to me.. well.. last name is hardly used in daily terms so I don’t care.. I’m happy to be called by my name with my dad’s name in the end or my hubby’s.. how does it matter anyway? Not that by changing my name I become a more loving wife or daughter or whatever.

    Our society is so biased towards men.. I think the bigger issues are like how widows are treated (I dont see anything even close to that for windowers!!).. no, I am not suggesting windowers also be harassed, but the opposite.. don’t treat someone (whether man or woman) differently just because their spouse died.. they are already going through enough. Also why should womens’ families pay for weddings? Why not 50-50 split of expenses? (I have seen that in some Maharashtrians btw). These are the issues that bother me more – name change or not seems to worry me less.
    Long comment, sorry 😦

    Me: I agree. They are all issues. I’m very impressed by the Maharashtrian way of splitting expenses – I’ve heard about it from a lot of people.

    And yes – there are other issues. Bigger and smaller – But I guess we all need to pick one we want to fight for and support it. This one truly annoys me.

  11. just curious- what surname do the brat and bean take?

    Me: both. they can drop it later if they like. their choice – never mind how bad we feel 🙂

  12. More than agree with you.
    On the “joined the family thing” how is it that when they are being hostile, nasty or downright horrid or generally ill behaved to you, they are always excused “since it is their son they feel proprieterial about” , since they should extend good behavior to someone who has become a member of their family.
    “Join the Family” indeed, I don’t think there is any legal document which says you do- the marriage certi is for the individuals…. ( and knowing how some folk are, am I glad I don’t have added families o my already frail shoulders)

  13. Shakespeare hmmm…thus proving its all an evil Western conspiracy to ” corrupt” the Bharitya nari …perhaps koee Jewish angle bhee hai.

    Me 😀

  14. Completely agree with your views..I guess the ones who don’t change will for sure be a minority…I have a vague reason for not changing mine..we are 3 girls in our family..two have already changed their’s and I am the 3rd and if I change mine too my dad’s name will be lost and no one to carry it forward, so i decided to keep it..to make things worse;-), we decided on a diff one for our kids, so, my husband and our kids and I have different surnames 🙂

    Me: I hardly think its a vague reason. why should i need a reason for something as personal as my OWN name? why is it anybody else’s business and why should i have to spend a lifetime explaining it? you go girl – i think its a lovely sentimental reason 🙂 is your dad happy?

  15. I couldn’t agree more 🙂 I have a similar problem with a long unpronounceable surname, but I stuck to it in spite of my husband’s being easier, he actually tried to use that when he argued for it! You could do what a friend of mine did which is change her name legally to something else that was not her father’s or her husband’s name. I also found it hilarious when soon after being married I had to explain the concept of Ms. to a bank guy while filling out a form, he could only process Miss and Mrs, even though Ms was an option on the form.

  16. The funniest argument against keeping my name came from my own extended family: “But… how will people know what to write on envelopes when inviting you to functions.” Oh yeah, I definitely want to take my husband’s name now to save envelope-addressers some hassle.

    I shall do a post with the full version of the rant.

    Me: OH MY GOD. I heard that so many times. will it kill them to put two names? silly freaks.

  17. My mom is the shrewd one. Her maiden surname and my dad’s surname are the same, no problem.
    Ok, seriously though, it surprises me that we human beings think up stuff to keep trouble brewing, as if there isn’t enough already! What, have we solved the poverty problem, all the diseases, corruption?

    The animals have it straight–first look for food, then a place to live, then a mate. If there’s still enough free time, think about the next meal.

  18. True that.
    Just a little qualm “not changing my name is either disrespectful to my husband (what respect ? he’s an equal”
    err…nobody said you shouldn’t respect your equals or your subordinates,right? Like you would respect a friend and expect your boss/parents to respect you.

    Me: but its not disrespectful either is it? and in this case – sure i respect a friend or a boss – but what about him respecting me and taking my name then? 🙂

  19. When my voter registration was miraculously done without my knowing about it, they gave me my husband’s name automatically. His first name as my middle name (how irritating!). His last name as my last name. Of course it drove me nuts and once I figured out its not that difficult to get this changed, I filled out the forms. But since I was sick I sent my husband to deposit the forms in the office, and he came back smiling because the guy commented on ‘Aaj Kal Ke Aurat Log’ being too uppity and insisting on retaining maiden names…screw him, its my choice.

  20. Well I’ll suggest a name change here 😀 for the blog 🙂 “The Tigress Momma”..

    Salute u for being truthful to ur beliefs and having the energy to try to make ppl understand..

    And Lady ur questions, I certain want some one answering that…

  21. Dear MM – I dont disagree with anything you say in this post. Still I think I will take my husband’s surname after marriage.

  22. “Here’s a better question? Why oh why do I have to get a PAN card?” ….. not better, but the best question so far!

    In other news – completely agree with you – my decision to change / retain my original name/surname has nothing to do with how i feel about being part of a family. If retaining my original name/surname makes (you) the inlaws unhappy/uncomfortable, it is only an indicator of more serious issues on the larger questions of adjustment coming my way.

  23. i dropped my father’s surname and took my mom’s when i was changing school in class 4rth.
    after getting married, my in-laws forced me to take up family name, i took up my husband’s name instead… though still my pan card, passport etc. bears my maiden name which i plan to change as my voter’s id card has my new name, for the legal cause purely but my CV has my maiden name.
    why only women are supposed to leave their names, traditions, identity to be a part of man’s family? it has to be mutual. although the surname part is non-debatable and i am too lazy to fight and instill sense in my in-laws mind, yet, i am creating my own traditions in my house, they are neither my parent’s nor my in-laws, they are mine. good things from both the houses fill my house.

  24. and yes i forgot to mention… some of my good friends are getting married, the invitation card that i recieved bear “Mrs and Mr. Srivastava” not one but 5 of them. they requested me to accept the card as it might get waste and the card was just a formality… but i have kept them all safely.. Ha for a change “Mrs and Mr. Srivastava” and not “Mr. and Mrs. Kumar”

  25. ditto on everything ( you know that already!)

    The couple of posts I did on this issue, there was this one more argument people gave me “Is it that bad if u change it? Why not?”

    My response: Whoever said it was “bad” to change it. Just that I don’t want to because I don’t think it makes a difference to anyone whether I do or don’t.

    And to the “why not”, my response is…”why, in the first place?”

    To each his own I say. Its when people want to add all these connotation sof respect, family etc etc my blood boils. I don’t think the boy and I can be any more committed to each other than we already are!

  26. Oh wow!

    Someone sounds like a true tigress! I guess in his heart, the OA was thrilled to have a wife who would pounce on anyone who would dare to lift a finger against him! 🙂 (Loved that bit)

    On a different note, I was talking to my boyfriend about the same thing, and he was like many men like it when their wives change the surname. Acc to him, they take that to be a part of the marriage.

    And, I do not like it. I like the ring of my name now, and that is what I have been for a quarter of a century, so I do not want to change it.

    When I said this, he was like “You seriously wont change your name?”

    I said, ” Nope, I don’t want to. I do not mind having Mr & Mrs So and So on the house name plate… I would love it, but I am not changing it officially anywhere!”

    He said, ” Hmmm… that’s okie 🙂 ”

    I think its just a superficial thing, like signing off gift cards, or house name plates….etc.

  27. but what about him respecting me and taking my name then?

    To be fair I didnt say anything about taking on the name as a show of respect, was just ribbing you for saying “What respect? Hes an equal!:)
    The argument works both ways, we dont take on names of everybody we respect, though that would be fun…I sooo wanna be Mrs Clooney…And we don’t not respect people who are equals…A=B, B=C and so in conclusion surname adoption has nothing to do with respect

    Me: you wanna do clooney or be mrs clooney? uff. who the hell wants to marry him, i ask you!!! have your fun and move on to someone more devoted

  28. I couldn’t agree with you more. My husband and I have 4 religions/cultures between us, and we’re none the worse for it. I had this same argument with many people (some very close friends, at that) before getting married, about changing my name and I didn’t. Why should I? AND it just so happens my parents ARE divorced and I don’t like keeping my father’s surname because I have nothing to do with him. But the idea of even trying to change my surname to my mother’s maiden name… I’m tired just thinking about it.

    Me: oh ouch… lots of chaos. big hug.

  29. Hey! Its legal to take on your mother’s name (first name, as is the general practice while taking on surnames in the south) as initial/surname in TN. Not sure about other states. It was made so a few years back.

    Also, I’ve come across people with no surnames, such as say, ‘Divya Jyoti’ where none of the two names are in any way related to the parents/spouse. Saves a lot of trouble I think.

  30. Someone I know, broke up with his girlfriend of 3 years, cos she refused to take on his surname. This was after they had got engaged and were waiting to finalise wedding dates!!
    I had another question to ask you though.. What do you think of visible symbols of being married – rings, toe rings, mangalsutra, thaali, sindoor – the works? I ask this, because 2 of my friends, (married to each other, from diff religions and states) here in Bangalore, were stopped by the cops late one saturday night and interrogated, when they were out on a drive – they had to call both sets of parents, at 1 at night, for the cops to believe them and let them go. The cops refused to believe they were married, as they had no visible signs of being married!! Its a diff thing that the cops had no business interrogating the nature of their relationship, in the first place. It was disgusting and the girl was so shaken.

    Me: well your friend is well rid of the asshole. i dont wear any visible signs of marriage. well i do wear two – but nobody realises what they are. one is an iron bangle that bengali married women wear and nobody in delhi knows what it is. and the other is my wedding band which again, is slim and subtle and unless you are looking for one, you dont see it. i dont believe in women alone wearing signs and i insist on the OA wearing his wedding ring. or else the deal’s off 🙂

    the issue with the cops is precisely the kind of thing that is SO DAMN frustrating in this country. cops often stop us at times – and i want to lift up my shirt and show them my scarred belly to show them that not only am i married, i am an old mother of two. bastards.

  31. MM, this has been an issue of consternation with me as well. Unfortunately mothers are considered “natural guardian” (in legal terms) of their children only “after” the father under the Hindu personal laws. In the absence of the father was a mother was deemed to have become a natural guardian. Surprisingly this norm is applied in all government documents irrespective of religion, therefore in most cases you would not find the requirement of a mother’s name on applications or forms. So much for secularism! A case was filed by Gita Hariharan against the Reserve Bank of India for not allowing her to act as the natural guardian of her son with respect to investments (relief bonds to be precise) in the presence of her husband. The Supreme Court which has consistently avoided touching personal laws or striking them down for being discriminatory had conveniently interpreted that the word “after” could not be applied to discriminate against a woman or create disadvantage as the natural guardian since the Constitution guaranteed equality. The Reserve Bank was directed to make adequate changes in their forms allowing mothers to act as natural and legal guardians of their children even while the husband was present. This is partially why you would see that some documents such as passports allow for “Name of Father/ Legal Guardian” (as a mother can be the legal guardian in cases of divorce, death of husband or being appointed by the court) and “Name of Mother”. However due to the lack of any systematic government circular replicating the directive of the Supreme Court to the Reserve Bank of India, most government departments fail to acknowledge a mother’s name. And the Tax Department is the biggest defaulter in my opinion, since they do not even consider the option of a legal guardian (who could be a mother) in the PAN Card. My parents are divorced and I had refused to provide my father’s name on the form, leaving it blank and even ready to put up a fight with the department if they happened to reject my application. But thanks to an old phoney who was handling my papers and managed to make discreet changes behind my back, I am stuck with a card holding my father’s name, and feeling enraged everytime I look at that document! I have a good mind of taking this up when I’m back in India again. Want to join hands?

    Me: *promptly and firmly reaches out a hand to hold ayesha’s*

    and how come the whole world knows about this GIta Hariharan case. Is she the author wala Gita Hariharan? Must read up more on it. THanks so much for all this info.

  32. 🙂

    well yup MM,names dont make or break a family!

    i took M’s surname and it was a complete non-issue for us. eitherways. you know in Maharshtrians, a man can change wife’s first name too. M is not maharshtrian, but our shaadi was done in our style.

    i told him i will so kill him even if he dares change it! :p i knew the threat was needed, but i wanted to be sure! :p

    an equal relationship will be equal regardless of common, different or multiple surnames! 🙂


  33. Hi!

    Just thought should know. I personally know two people (both sindhis from work) who’ve gotten their wives names changed cos that is the “tradition”. Their wives have accepted it. One of them was born and brought up in Dubai, the other in India. They both don’t like it, I can tell, but they’ve done it. They used to find it hard to remember their own new names in the beginning. And i know 2 more sindhi girls who are unmarried, but are quite casual abt the whole thing and are ok with changing their names whenever they do get married.
    I was shocked when i first heard it. But what can one do if the women are ok with it?!

  34. Yes MM. It is absolutely no one’s business to question why and what we choose for our names as mature responsible adults!

    After feeling hurt a few times, I have finally chosen to not be bothered about some random sarkari guy etc. saying things about the choice of my name/surname. I’ve finally realized I don’t care at all about what he thinks about me or my choices, phir kyoon apna waqt aur khoon zaya karoon. His opinions are inconsequential, period.

    By the way, I know people who have PAN cards with their mother’s name/surname as their middle/last names. There’s got to be a way to do that. I think the comment about affidavit is most likely the way to do that.

  35. Now, now. Rant all you want, but leave dear old Uncle out of this. Your parents are gems, girl, but of course you know that already. 😀

    Me: sigh. the man is so useless, OJ… he can never remember what he’s filled in a form and each form carries a different permutation…

  36. my husband had to fill up a form when we were applying for home loan-that i am indeed “his” wife who has maintained her maiden surname…

    and some of the USG clinics out here are so pathetic-each time i went for an USG -they wud ask for my husband’s name and when the last names didnt match-they wud give such dirty looks to him-as if am not his legal wife….

  37. I agree MM
    nothong more to say..its a persona; decision and younger bro has mom’s and dad’s name and surname as his name coz he felt like it:)
    I and elder bro have ma’s name with dad’s surname..(coz ma’s maiden surname and dad’s surname are the same)

  38. Yes MM, this is the author wala Gita Hariharan that we are talking about. It was all over the papers I remember.

    Anyway I retain my maiden name and have added my husband’s surname hence I went from SM to SMM. And the only pperson who objected to it was the marriage registrar who said I can’t do it legally. The poor guy forgot he was talking o an advocate himself and I asked him to show me the rule/ section/ article which said it. He refused to let me sign my marriage registration certificate as SMM and made me sign it as SM (husband’s surname M).

    Me: oh i do wish you’d smacked him 🙂

  39. Am sorry if I am repeating what the others are perhaps saying better than me, but the only line that stayed with me… is something that I keep fighting about too. Why is it implicitly a woman’s job to maintain peace?
    And what a green thumb u have woman! Never saw it when I was there. And moving talk happening again?

    Me: oh that might.. just MIGHT be because you didnt take your eyes off your damn nephew and niece. am i right?! 😀 and no – this post was written in jan when i spoke to you about it. we changed our mind as you know. nothing after that.

  40. I have been reading this post and the related comments with lot of curiosity……I dont know much about this women’s rights business……….but at the same time, this debate makes me wonder- what if this energy is channelised to help remove much bigger ills afflicting this society………..Women power is too powerful a force to under-utilise it for trivial matters (my personal opinion as for some it might be a very big thing)……

    Women folks do not need to prove anything to anyone; every action of theirs right from the time of leaving the cozy environs of her parents for a new house to adopting it as her own and then raising a child inside her womb to going thru the pain of labor and raising kids……while taking care of their worldly responsibilities ; proves it every day…….

    My final submission is that women are powerful enough to choose their opponents and it is time that they choose much bigger and powerful opponents than this naming thing……

    Last take in a lighter vein is-“hope there will not be any debate on as to why it is a woman who has to leave her house and why not men”…….isn’t that something that is related to this surname business……

    Latter has its genesis in the former….

    Me: I think the fact that you think that a name and identity are trivial matters – is part of the huge issue. Just the fact that we think its a huge problem should be enough -right? most social ills arise from the fact that women and their issues are treated lightly…

  41. I don’t want my father’s name. I don’t want my mother’s name.
    I don’t want my husband’s name.
    Hmmmm. I’ve been contemplating this one. You will see a name change.

    Me: 😀 well as long as you dont change, nothing else matters.

  42. @Mad Momma – err…technical question…if the mommy has one surname, and the daddy another, what are the kids gonna have? Both? Either? Neither? I’m not for or against changing surnames, but I just can’t figure this one out! Help?

    Me: mine have both. its not the ideal situation. but in our case since we’re from two diff religions i’d like my culture to reflect in their names too. i cant speak for others simply because that goes against my theory of to each his own!

  43. You know, the issue with the PAN card is hilarious only if it didn’t give you such a headache. So sorry you have to go thro that.

    How’s your knee? and beanie’s health? What happened to her? and you’re moving? why?

    Yes, our meeting was short. It went so fast. I had so much to share with you. When are you visiting the U.S?

  44. My comment wasn’t understood properly or perhaps my word were not good enough to communicate it clearly……

    At no point ever did I say that identity and name are trivial matters……all i said was- “Women power is too powerful a force to under-utilise it for trivial matters”……I still stand by my words that women are powerful enough to choose much powerful opponents for themselves……there are much bigger ills affecting the status of women in this society…….self realisation of inherent & innate power is more important than anything…….and there is no denying the fact women folks have that in abundance….

    “Stri Shakti” can do wonders to any society provided it is channelised in the proper direction!

    Me: I’m still getting the same message though you know…. that there are much bigger ills. the point is till women are treated as people and not property that can be renamed at the owner’s will – the root of the problem will be the same. disrespecting a woman’s wishes or her identity is a big ill. and just because women in villages are being gangraped (which is a HUGE issue in my mind) doesnt mean we think of this as under utilisation

  45. Hey MM.

    Nice discussion going on. At our place all of us have diff last names.
    I retained my maiden last name.
    My husband’s last and first names became mixed up here in the US. His real first name is his last name now.
    Both our kids have my husbands real last name which is his current first name.

    Thats really confusing is’nt it? The real fun is when I call the travel agents to book tickets. They start with his first name and last name. Then they come to me and ask ” same last name right” I tell them NO and say my last name. Then they start with the first kid and ask “same last name as your husband, right” Then I say NO, and tell them my husband’s first name is the kids last name. By that time I have confused them enough and they politely say ‘This is the email address please email me the detils of the first and last names of all four of you’ :))

  46. MM,

    My father is a tax advocate – and is one of our family’s legal power of attorney – and manages any paperwork from my time working in India, thus I am kept pretty much up-to-date on red-tape issues! Gita Hariharan made news – it was even in the India Today I remember.

    As Ayesha says, the IT dept needs a kick to its butt…it’s one of the MOST beauracratic depts around!


  47. If one were to analyse it carefully then the root of the name change problem lies in the age old tradition of women leaving their respective homes for their husband’s after marriage…..You may not want to agree with that and I completely understand that position….

    Me: oh i totally agree. but all tradition is not good. everything needs to be analysed. there was also an old tradition of changing the first name and giving dowry. if we can move far enough to change that – why not this old regressive tradition?

    However, I still maintain that to be uprooted from a carefully cultivated identity of formative years in a whiff is the biggest reason for this name change……..It is not about disrespecting or loosing someone’s identity…….rather just an alteration or change….one’s identity is always casted in iron and stone….one can add few things to it or take few things off it but can’t destroy it….

    Me: Sure. A name cannot make or break me. All the more reason for the husband and his family to learn to live with it. Wont hurt them either if i live in their house with my old name.

    Accept it or not, marriage does lead to a change in the identity of both the sexes.

    And last but not the least, it is preposterous to say that an addition of surname makes a woman less people and more of property is demeaning to the very essence of a women being…..that’s my take and you are entitled to have yours…..

    Me: Oh I think its preposterous but true. most men still look at women as property. The law looks at a woman as property too. I believe there is one crazy law that says that adultery is when another man sleeps with your wife without your permission. the words might be wrong but the essence of it is real. were you aware of that? and of course its demeaning to women. why do you think i want change? naming is definitely a sign of making something your own. you know, like a new store, a new pet, a wife…

    Just because my wife has chosen to use my surname doesn’t in any way make her more of a property and less of a woman….she is my one half and stays so…..forever

    Me: well its a noble speech. and i’m glad she appreciates it. and perhaps the fact that she ‘chose’ it says it all. its when it ceases to be a choice and more of a necessity that the problem begins. in which case its not your wife but women like me who were harassed over it, that need to fight the fight. maybe your wife doesnt – which just makes her a lucky minority. doesnt make the fight any less justified or more trivial, na? 🙂

  48. 2 technical problems:

    1. Kid 1 has both parent’s surname — So say kid 1 is named Rose Bose Dwivedi. Kid 1 grows up and marries Kid 2 who is named Harry Baweja Aiyengar. Fine till now.

    2. Now they have Kids. To satisfy both Kid 1 and Kid 2(who are now adults) the next generation kiddos have 4 surnames and have a hell of a time filling out PAN or any other form

    I had my maiden name after marriage and had to change it due to a Passport cum Driving License Fiasco. Now my Maiden name is my middle name and I did contemplate continuing that with the kids till the above technical problem arose

    I say after marriage toss a coin and keep a unified last name or maybe decide on a totally new and cool last name like “Pitts” or “Cruise” maybe and then you can claim you are related to your favorite whoever

    Agree with you as to women/men should be left to decide on their own however

    Me: LOL! yes – that woul dbe complicated. but simply because we’re the first generation doing this. teething problems. i am sure we could work out a way that is acceptable to all concerned na? i personally want to have a Rajput surname or then take Singh. because you know, Singh is King :p

  49. Get your dad to get a First Magistrate’s affidavit showing that ALL his names belong.. er.. to him. I have three names, and life is much smoother now that I can prove that all three are me!

    Me: arre – and what do we do about his misspelled passport and PAN names? the man has even got the spellings wrong by getting some tout to do it. the joys of living in UP

  50. .. and it kinda makes me sad to see disclaimers on your posts 😦 .

    Me: makes me sad to make them too. but the world is full of idiots 😦

    No one should be allowed to impose on another person. Period.
    All in all, I agree with you on every point in this post. Except the hot-headedness bit :D. If someone gives my boy some cheek and a good deal on a house… rather have both than neither, hey!

  51. On a completely different note – you wear a ‘loha’ (the iron bangle that married bengali women wear), you know rabindrasangeet, you wear red taant sarees AND the brat says ‘ore baba re’!

    You are more Bengali than many of my friends.

    Move to Calcutta na! 😀

    Me: I’ll mail and tell you why that will never happen 🙂

  52. Well I object to the use of word “Noble Speech”……as for me it is a statement of fact…..

    I like your spirit to indulge in a discussion…..May be that is why they coined a phrase- “lets agree to disagree”

    Me: sure. but let me get you right. are you disagreeing with the need for a woman to keep her name? to the need for fighting for this cause too (after all every cause has a right to be fought for) or to the fact that it might offend some women?

    I understand your arguments about how it WAS tradition. and i understand that you respect your wife. what i dont understand is whether you realise that not all of us want to follow tradition and that not all men respect their wives. for many husbands it *is* a way of showing ownership. and that is the sad truth. read my comments to get a better picture of what even educated women have to put up with

  53. Sorry, but I am somewhat clueless on the PAN issue. Why do they need your Dad’s PAN card? Won’t your birth certificate suffice? We really should do something (don’t know what)to make sure that mothers get equal representation everywhere. I know that all documents in the US have a mother/father option. And I am so impressed that your Dad is okay with having different names on diffferent documents. Wish I could be like that.

    Me: well i had his name on my PAN card application. and after that he went and applied and before i knew it – the data was different on both! as for my dad.. .he is totally zen. he is okay with his children marrying out of the religion. little issues like the name misspelt are below him 😉

  54. MM, I’ll give a different answer. The ones who know of Gita Hariharan in this list are all either lawyers or children of lawyers 😀

  55. While agreeing with the fact that there are many men who impose this as their birth- right, I disagree with the notion that just because it is imposed on a woman, she becomes less of a woman and more of an object or property…..

    Me: Not at all. she doesnt BECOME anything. i said she is TREATED like property. it may or may not have an effect on her. but that doesnt change the fact that the man/his family – are thinking of her as something they own and have a right to impose upon.

    for me a woman stays a woman with or without name change…..much more powerful than men;genetically, emotionally and physically……the day every woman comprehends this reality, ills afflicting them will go away……

    Me: LOL! oh honey – thats sweet.. but so not true. try telling that to women dowsed in kerosene and burnt by inlaws and uneducated so unable to get a job and not taken back home. it takes a lot more than wishful thinking. it takes open debate like this, it takes awareness of your rights (which no one tells them) and it takes an awareness of identity and free choice. which ranges from right to education to right to choosing your name.

    It is nothing but that realisation of self power; which will make the difference

    Problems that affect women folks are compounded more by the women themselves……

    Me: and by men – rape, molestation, dowry.. the works. just like a man to shrug off responsibility 😉 and to deny that he is to share in the way women are repressed.

    I guess that’s why there is a saying somewhere that says- biggest enemy of a woman is always a woman…..

    Me: i repeat what i said above. in this case – you become part of the problem when you believe that you cannot help simply because you are not a woman. as a man it would be nice of you stand up for the rights women are fighting for and say “yes… i am with you. fight your battle. no battle is too trivial. you go girl” will you now, reveda?

    Yes I am aware of that absurd law on the adultery…

    Me: so then you agree that they are being treated like property even by law! a change MUST come. and every bit of change is important. i think you will realise what we are up against when you read the comments and realise that all the women have agreed and only you, a man, have disagreed 🙂 i rest my case.

  56. Well Reveda is my daughter and her name features as I didnt change the fields to save time….

    I am certainly not a part of a problem but game for solution…..I am always for women’s rights……

    One reason is our upbringing besides the fact that women in our community (Garhwalis) are considered as a pivot of the family and are a revered lot……

    You must read the “Who Am I” part of my daughter’s blog and you will know what do I stand for….

    Me: Look, it doesnt matter what your blog says… What matters is what you’ve just said in your comment.

    Whether you think names are important to you or not, you have to understand that you must unconditionally support a woman’s right to her battles, whether you agree to the cause or not.

    The day you try to tell her that something she has set her heart on, is trivial – you and she are on different sides. Do you see what I mean?

  57. Dear MM,

    I have been an avid yet silent reader of your blogs for almost a year now. And this particular blog of yours made me write to you. The first paragraph in this post shouts out loud what I have been craving to say myself. I wholeheartedly agree to the fact that marriage is an equal partnership and by no means is the girl being handed over to the guy’s family.
    I live with my husband (and newborn) in the US and when we make a trip to India, it is a given that I have to follow my husband to his house though my parents live in the same city. It breaks my heart to bid goodbye to my parents within an hour of meeting them at the airport. My husband is fine with us going to my parents house, but I am sure it would cause ruckus at my in-laws place. It might sound like a small issue, but the patriarchal society’s impact starts from such small crevices. And what angers me even more is the fact that most of my Indian guy friends who live here think that this is the best thing to do in order to maintain peace. It is almost like they want to keep whatever is convenient to them. Hope all this changes with the next generation.

    Me: honey – it breaks my heart to read your comment. and i have to say this – change wont miraculously start with the next generation. you need to be the change you want to see.

    PS: I have not believed in Zodiacs much until I started reading your blog. We share the same zodiac and man oh man our thoughts and feelings seem to align a lot and am really happy to see them echoed so effectively.

  58. May be the best thing that can be done regarding this would be to stop naming… completely.
    At the time of birth, the govt. should assign a PAN number, and that should be used to address the individual for the rest of his/her life. That way, the in-laws could not change it and the issue of identity/dignity will be taken care of.

    Me: What an idea sirji. seriously though – I have a feeling you’re really not feeling our pain, hence making a joke. thats rather sad…

  59. Hmm. can’t help entering the fray at this point.
    Reveda’s dad does have one(solitary) point, which is that we women need to realize how powerful we actually are.

    Me: sure we are. And we realise it. I realise it. You realise it. which is why we’re voicing our opinions today. but what i dont like – is where his point leads – that because we are powerful, it should be used on other issues. yet again, we have a man telling us what to do with our passion and where we should be channelising our energy. i dont think that is right.

    This is going to come across as controversial, but I see seats reserved for women on a bus as an insult. Being a woman does not imply being frail. “Affirmative discrimination”(that’s what it’s called, or what?) is still discrimination, and firmly “others” those who are supposed to benefit from it.

    ME: oh but i totally agree with you. i dont want a seat. i usually get up and give it to the elderly. in the same breath though, i will ask for seats for pregnant women because they are not at their fittest and need that rest. just like the elderly and the sick. once i’ve delivered i am ready to go back to standing in the bus.

    Right now, we have to work on creating an equal, uniform law where women are treated as people. And while we can’t compel women to conform to our notion of emancipation, we definitely can tell them that no one has a right to tell them what to do. For me, that has always been the most important part. Let those who want to be different have their choice.

  60. This reminds me of a silly incident – When I got my graduate admission and scholarship, the letter was address to Ms. “Father’s Name”. Seeing that I got very irritated, dumped the letter in my dad’s hands asking him to go get the scholarship and do the degree :-D.

    Now I am faced with a more irksome issue – I am getting married in about a month. My MIL want’s me to wear “thali” (just the pendant part) that weigh’s atleast 20g in gold (plus 40g chain to hold it, both to be paid for by my parents). Even my mom wears a small one weighing just 8g. According to my MIL the essence of the institution of marriage lies in the thali (total BS) and hence one should not skimp on it. Whenever I think about this, I have this image of me wearing a big dog collar in gold :(. Luckily my fiance understands my point and is ready to stand up to his mom, but I am already spoiling for an argument and waiting for the day we all go to buy it. But apart from her arcane and dogmatic views, she is really a nice person and I find it hard to hurt her sentiments :(. Well whatever… sorry for the tangential rant.

    Me: Well I’m the kind who will do anything for you if you ask nicely. So I might have done it to keep the MIL happy. But I also know that this whole desire to keep peace often means going against your principles and beliefs and it would be a tough choice. the thing is, if i wear a thali today against my wishes, how do I teach my daughter that a marriage is based on understanding and not on a gold pendant? I dont wear the thali from my inlaws side or my dad’s family side. and i wish you all the best :D

  61. Totally agree. School/College years have messed around with my name big time because my dad used initials in his names and also because none of them were surnames. So even if I put it down as ‘sunita thomas’ some fellow somewhere would add the initials in there.My passport carries my name, my father’s, my grandfathers and our family name.

    I have retained my maiden name and that is not without arguments incl my mom. My daughter carries her father’s name and I am comfortable with that but I am not comfortable changing mine.

    After all that arguments at home when we went to get the peapod’s passport, they kept rejecting every paper of mine saying its not my married name. By law, the marriage certificate is sufficient but the silly men who sit at the counters just make your life difficult. One of the men even said its compulsory to change my name if I want my daughter’s passport. I lost count of the number of times I have been to the passport office to sort this out untill we finally got it.

    Me: thats the thing. even these govt officials are a bunch of old farts who make up their own rules… morons.

  62. Just a few days back, the insuramce person had to come and fill up forms, and I was not home, S was. He had to tell my name to that person. And after my name was spelt out, the guy prompltly says, “So, you guys are baniyas.”

    I wonder is it just the tendency to slot people, to judge about them, blatant unnecessary curiosity… is it just to see who can be part of clans, closed groups… This spills over to more serious things. People who are censorious about people of different faiths or castes getting married, their views reflect on on other personal matters like name. The law also makes things difficult because the law is also made by people who have their own set of thinking, prejudices, morals etc etc.

  63. This issue has always pissed me off. Yes, my father’s last name as my surname is partriarchal and I didn’t choose it, but I’ve lived with it all my life. Why should I have to change any part of it now? After I got married A’s family doc used to drive me nuts by insisting on filling out any prescriptions to ‘Mrs. A’, and asking when I was going to turn non-veg. Grrr!!!

    I remember being so impressed as a kid by Swaminathan Aiyar who took his wife’s last name as his middle name – anklesaria. Our kids have both our last names. As far as the long last names of my future grandkids go, they’re perfectly free to go off and choose something like ‘banana-hammock’ – see if I care!

  64. I so agree with you here, my name is part of my identity and I too like many others have no intention of changing it after marriage. Lot of my friends call me Rohra instead of Kusum.

    When I sign mails or anyplace else I try to sign as Kusum Rohra.Just Kusum or Kusum Murugadoss or Kusum Advani just doesn’t sound like me.

    I just dread what will come my way after I retain my maiden name after marriage and knowing my temper I am sure there will be quite a lot of pain coming my way from the old farts sitting in the govt offices 😦

  65. This also brings to mind a recent discussion I had with the boyfriend. I told him that when we get married we can get a name plate that reads Rohra and Advani 🙂 thankfully he agrees and sees no harm in me retaining the Rohra in me.

  66. we should just adopt that central asian tradition – choose one of the two last names as part of the marriage ceremony.

    simple solutions to complex problems.
    cant imagine changing my last name. yes its part of my identity. i’m very shallow like that.

  67. hi!!
    was away so read this post a lil late..n cudnt agree more with it…
    my marriage is also a communion of two different castes of hindusim.my husband is a brahmin n i am a baniya…ofcourse love marriage.
    we never discussed it though but it was self understood that i was not going to change my last name..and so it remains, but i notice that time n again my in-laws remind me of the gaffe that i ve committed n extend too much of a helpong hand to get it changed. i curtly tell them that what is there in the surname, its for the person i am that should matter to them. they dont argue but i can see the frustration. aw while ago when i was applying for my passport n my husband’s, the broker tells me that i willl not be able to get mine as i have retained my maiden name. i saw no point in making him understand that its the papers n affidavits that matter, not the mere 5-6 letter surname that the offcials check.i gave him a glare n walked away. applied for it on my own and my passport arrived before my husband’s.
    i think in india people take this surname business a little too far..at times because of what others say to my husband, he also brings up the issue but i make him understand and he does…
    its purely my business what name i want to keep.

  68. Perhaps a little late in the day, but my sympathies about the dad’s name issue. I apparently have four fathers (pun intended), with the following names…


    I am 28 years old, and when someone asks me to write down my father’s name, I’m not sure!!!

    Me: Would you like him to meet my dad? I am 30 and I have about 15 fathers – all of whom spell their names as the mood takes them. they’d be great friends. 🙂

  69. I don’t get the “what’s the big deal” arguments in any discussion ever. If its not such a big deal, then why is only one gender making these choices? Let men change their last names too. Oh, now its a big deal? Or let me put it this way – in return for me changing my name ,what do I get? There should be some compensation for the inconvenience and involuntary change of identity – a lifetime of free massages? Bed tea every morning that I am alive? Never to have to wake up in the middle of the night when we have an infant??? Why give away my last name for free?

    I also have a bit of an issue with the “free choice” argument. If it really is a free choice, you would expect to see (a) random name changes with or without marriage – as MM has pointed out (b) equal number of men changing names as women, shouldn’t be a significant difference b/w sexes. But you don’t see this.

    Lets accept that yes, changing last names for women after marriage is a socially conditioned choice. It may not be explicitly forced on a particular individual but coercion takes on many forms, some explicit, some subtle. So those of us who change names even “freely” accept this social conditioning.

    And finally the “what name will your grandchildren have” is being too risk-averse I think. As MM said, if we never do it, we’ll never muddle a solution for it. I don’t care if my daughter changes her name to drop one of our names or even changes it entirely – its her choice, her identity, she should be comfortable with it. Maybe we can adopt the Latin American way. The child has two names and when they reproduce, the grandchild gets two names out of four (sadly they are still patriarchal, so the names that get kept are the fathers names in both cases, but perhaps the double-barrelled children can mutually agree on a winning combination). Yes, it will make ancestry traces a bit harder but other than making the lives of genealogists harder (and maybe more interesting), I’m unable to see what the difficulty might be.


    Me: *Thanks her lucky stars that n! is back – and is most excited that she is now a mommy!!! *

  70. MadMomma:

    I am surprised you are having such a hard time with the PAN Card. My second name has never been the same as my father’s, whose own second name is not the same as his father’s. But I had had no trouble obtaining my PAN card.

    Me: arre Shefaly – If I am mad, my father is worse! I applied for mine with his name spelt correctly. but they connected it the name on his PAN card, which is naturally, misspelt (naturally, because in UP only touts do all this work) and so now we’re stuck. Anyway – have got some affidavits etc and hopefully I will soon have a PAN card!

    For any other purposes: you may want to use your marriage certificate especially if you retain your maiden name. Most government offices will accept it if you manage to get a relatively reasonable person like this woman on the telephone (yes, that is why I say ‘relatively’).

  71. Just went through the hassle of filling in passport renewal forms. Sigh! when will this change? It asks for father’s name, husband’s name (not spouse’s) and assumes if I am married my maiden name has to be different from my ‘married’ name.


  72. I never changed my name when I got married,had the family surname.Never had fathers last name before marriage or husbands name after marriage.Infact even Americans are surprised,asking if Iam really married to my husband or are we just partners..
    Coming to feminism,check this website
    savethemales.org and whats ur opinion about it.

  73. Hi MM,

    The bit about conditioning is so true.

    And yes, the funniest bit is most forms don’t ask you about your mothers name 🙂

    Even I havent changed my name officially after marriage and I don’t love my husband less without it. My maiden name is so entrenched into my personality that I would feel I am not the same person, without it

    • see, i knew you with both bits of your name. if you had changed it to your husband’s i’d never have chanced upon you on FB and added you. people dont realise how much of a life we had pre-marriage that would get wiped out by a name change.

  74. Loved this post.

    I recently got married and had a long (read tiring) conversation with my husband about this after I decided to stick to my maiden name and refused to tag on his surname to mine. The whole issue could not have been put into words in a more apt way.

    And nice blog. Came across it while googl-ing this very issue. Keep it up.

  75. I like this post, chandni posted posted something on the same lines earlier..

    Completely agree with you on the issue.
    Yet another that should be mentioned is the fact that as an author/ academic/ researcher all publications get linked with surnames. Thus if I were to change mine now to my husbands it would create a bit of a mess and confusion in my work life. Hyphenated names are not quite my style as they seem to be compromises made in an attempt for ‘peace’ and let me not even get started with the whole women and peace issue..!

    I really do think all changes post marriage should be given/ thought of as options and choices and not simply a pre-determined set of must-dos, hidden under the cloak of ‘tradition’.

    I salute you for undertaking the PAN card mission. It took me a year to get a passport and this is pre-marriage! I shudder at the thought of renewal!

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