Of course the custom differs slightly in north India and south India: North Indians use family/caste names as surnames and women just replace theirs with their husband’s after marriage, whereas in south India, where patronymic surnames are more common, a married woman would replace her last name with her husband’s first name. In the light of the recent (and becoming increasingly popular) trend among women in western societies to keep their maiden names after marriage, what do you think of this custom? Do you consider it an important part of your personal/married life? Would you change your last name with your husband’s first/last name after marriage? Why?
Answer by Raakhee Veugopal:
Thank you for the A2A.
Personally, I don’t think it’s relevant any more. Because…
- We are a matrilineal society in Kerala, India. Our identity is based on our mother’s family name, and it is retained until death. My father named me the way you see my name because this style had just started trending at the time I was born and he thought it was fancy. Otherwise, neither my father’s name nor my husband’s name would appear next to my name, as per tradition. Probably, the women in Kerala did not deem it important to have her identity from a man. Although a huge majority of women attach their husband’s names to theirs post marriage in Kerala now, it is seen more as an affectionate gesture. Not a mandatory one. Maybe I have a whole lot of genes from that era in me.
- Divorces have become commonplace now. It seems pointless to keep on changing surnames. What are we doing to ourselves? It’s unfair that it’s just the woman has to undergo this humiliation. “Hello Mrs. Singh! Long time!” “I’m Mrs.Sood” “Uhh, but I have registered your name as Mrs. Priya Singh.” “That was a year ago. Now I am Mrs. Priya Sood“…and there you go! You have just laid your private life in full display for gossip. Ugh!
- Taking my husband’s surname post marriage does not guarantee that I will have a deeper bonding with him. Not taking it does not mean that I will never love him. Changing or not changing a surname has got nothing to do with mutual feelings. Just because your spouse has taken your surname, does that imply that you trust her with everything? What logic is that?
- Would I change my last name after marriage? No.
- Why? Because I have an identity I am proud of. I was born as Raakhee Venugopal and I will die as Raakhee Venugopal. If it is a sign of ‘belonging’, I belong to my parents only. I was born of their body and soul and not of my husband.
Of course a lot of women may disagree with me. But this is just my own personal opinion.