Show me a Telugu name and I could show you Telugu poetry! Not any longer.
There was a time when Telugu names represented length, strength, meaning and many many alphabets. Set aside the full name, a quick look at the initials was sufficient to spot a Telugu.
Where other South Indian names lacked the syncretistic spirit, Telugu names made a proud show of it. Not restricting themselves to pater's-firstname-sans-variations as their middle identity, they took pride in being dashboards of various Gods' and blood relations' monikers. Synthesis was clearly the middle-name of such spirit.
Telugu pride would have scoffed at many eager-to-save-trees and effort-time-quantified American application forms, the ones that ask you for a swalpamaina simple M. I. - that's Middle Initials for uninitiated, which even for thoroughly initiated Telugus is more like Mission Impossible. Does an elephant ever squeeze into an ant-hole? Does an entire hand ever pick a single nostril? Never! Does KCR know his mind when talking about separate Telangana? Never!! But I digress...Then why ask to crunch a grand middle name that almost reads like A.P.S.R.T.C into one byte field? Scoff! హవమానము!!
Length be damned, pacifying egos of the living, the dead and the celestial is important; what if your name reads like a rearranged limerick or a haiku?
S.S.V.V.S.V.L. Prasada Rao* isn't just the result of 2 parental minds coming together one fine day of naamakaranam, the naming ceremony. Familial pressures, family deity and parental poetic inspirations - all worked full force to bring the building blocks for such a strong name together.
But alas, such a grand-nomenclatural tradition of bestowing lyrical names to Telugu sons , which Telugu daughters escaped till date and I frequently wonder how!, is coming to a sad end. Nuclear families are clearly the prime reasons for this pitiable decline.
I suspect IT revolution also has an insidious role in this.
Thanks to the global opportunities Telugus are hopping on to planes everyday to greener IT pastures, hopping back briefly a few years later to get married and to do a joint hop back to the pastures. Families back home desperate for re-unions or regular ISD updates haven't been finding time for nomenclatural pressures? Can you blame them?
Far from the Telugu land and parental influences, folks these days don't balk at choosing names that clearly have northie or phirangi influences. Hayyo, if this is not Namakarana-Kaliyuga what is?
*SRI SATYA VEERA VENKATA SAI VARA LAKSHMI PRASAD RAO. A fictitious name as far as i can tell. As the likelihood of this being a real name is high, i request the name-bearer to realize this post is not a personal assault. If it is of any help please note that my full name (family name included) has been a source of inspiration for a few songs and poems during my college days!