What’s in a Name: Cultural Names

whats in a name prathusha

My name is Prathusha [Pra-thu-sha](originally spelled Prathyusha), and it’s Sanskrit for the time between night and day. It really is a beautiful name — or so says my mother after every time I rant about people saying my name incorrectly. I do love my name, but it wasn’t always this way. When I was younger, it was really difficult for me to tell people my name because they would probably pronounce it incorrectly; I pronounced my name wrong so that other people could be more comfortable. It wasn’t until a couple years ago that I truly learned how to embrace my cultural name.

Don’t settle for other people; it’s crucial that you pronounce your name the way with which you’re the most comfortable. Your name is a pretty big part of your identity, and you shouldn’t let someone else’s false perception define you. If you are having a hard time embracing your name, do some research! Look your name up or have a discussion with a parent about the cultural significance of your name and about why they chose to name you that. Personally, my parents named me Prathusha because I was born at one a.m., which is the perfect descriptor of what my name signifies: the time between day and night.

As an Indian American, my cultural name means a lot to me. It really helps me get in touch with my unique culture, and it certainly is a conversation starter! Whenever I introduce myself to people, we go over the correct pronunciation, and they usually comment on its uniqueness or we discuss its significance. It’s also nice to not really know anyone who has the same name as you; it makes life a little less confusing!

I think that a person’s name is a pretty significant part of their identity. It’s really important to respect someone’s name and its pronunciation. If you aren’t sure how to pronounce someone’s name, ask them! It’s better to be sure than possibly offending someone! If you have a cultural name (or even if you have a pretty common one), it’s really eye opening to research it, either on the Internet or with a parent. My parents told me that they named me Prathusha because of the time of day when I was born, but also because they hoped that I’d have a cheery personality and that I’d be a morning person (which I’m not, really, but they tried!). Regardless of whether you like your name or not, it’s easiest to embrace it because it’s yours! Understanding your name and its significance within its respective culture is definitely essential and self-fulfilling.




prathushaPrathusha considers herself an avid feminist and an advocate for girls’ education in the developing world. She is interested in cognitive science, politics, and journalism, and isn’t quite sure which she’d like to study in college. Prathusha is also into indie music and old books, so you can imagine that her friends call her “pretentious a lot” (she swears she’s not). In her free time, she likes to watch Jeopardy! and fawn over aesthetically pleasing photosets on her Tumblr: worldlyveins.tumblr.com.

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