Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
Thank you for the A2A.
In my home state of Kerala in India, among Hindus, a baby’s ‘naming ceremony’ happens on the 28th day after birth. Tradition demands that the baby’s name should not be revealed to anyone before that.
It is usually only the parents and the child’s grandparents who are privy to the proposed name. It is held as a closely guarded secret until the 28th day. The naming ceremony is an elaborate process that involves several rituals and stuff.
I don’t know correctly about how it is for boys, but girls are given two or (in some cases) three names at this ceremony.
The first name is either Rajeshwari or Parvathy. This would be the first name that is given to all girl children, as a default. It is the name of the Mother Goddess. This is just for the sake of auspiciousness. It doesn’t have any relevance otherwise.
The second name is the name as per the child’s birth star. As per tradition, a child’s name has to start with either of three or four alphabets based on his/her birth star. This is instructed to the new parents by an astrologer after he examines the baby’s birth charts. The choices are limited and the parents just put any generic name that abides by the traditions. Sometimes they keep this name as the actual name of the child.
If, however, the parents had already planned another name, they give that name as the third name. After naming, the parents announce it to the waiting crowd.
Nowadays, many hospitals abroad demand that the baby’s name be told at the time of birth itself so that they could prepare the birth certificate. So it is not always possible to hide the name these days. But most hospitals in Kerala don’t insist on this as they are aware of the local custom.