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Indian Names and Castes: 150 Popular Names with Meanings

Indian names have a similar pattern to Western names. The given name comes first and the family name follows. Sometimes there is a middle name, which is usually the father's name.

Let's take Mahatma Gandhi's name as an example: Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. Mohandas is the first name, Karamchand is his father's name, and Gandhi is the family name (surname).

Indian names

Indian Surnames and Their Castes

Many Indian surnames are related to the caste system. People in Indian society are divided into four castes according to their occupation, namely Brahman, Kshatriya, Vaisya, and Sudra.

  • The Brahmin, whose task is to master and impart knowledge and administer sacrifices, have the highest rank.
  • The role of the Kshatriyas (ranked second) is to hold the throne, to serve as soldiers, and to defend society.
  • The Vaisya, whose task is to run commerce and agriculture, are the third class.
  • The task of the Sudras is to serve the above three types of people. Artisans and craftsmen belong to this category, and they have the lowest social status.

Some surnames used by each caste are exclusive and caste-role-related, and therefore they indicate the family's caste status. For example, surnames used by the Brahmin are generally related to the Vedas, the Hindu classics, the major gods, or words denoting dignity.

The family names of the Kshatriya are generally related to weapons or words of authority and valor.

The surnames of the Vaisya are often associated with trade and wealth. People of Sudra caste can only use words such as carpenter and shoemaker as surnames to indicate their status.

Here are some common surnames used by the four castes:

  • Brahmin: Sharma, Trivedi, Vyas, and Pandit
  • Kshatriya: Thakker, Rajput, Singh, Thakor, and Verma
  • Vaisya: Gupta, Modi, Seth, Gandhi, Shah, Ghaggar, and Goal
  • Sudra: Ambedkar, Solanki, Chamar, Nayi, and Lohar

There are also many surnames unrelated to caste like Kumar. In most cases in India, surnames also indicate the family's religion. For example, "Singh" is mostly a Sikh surname. If someone's surname is Khan, then s/he's probably a Muslim.

Many Indian women change their surnames to their husbands' when they get married.

Indian First Names

In India, a first name (given name) is the name people use at work, or the one they use when introducing themselves to strangers (informally). Indians' given names are chosen to have positive and good meanings.

Many parents, especially of Hindu families, choose a name based on the constellations (Nakshatra) and consult astrologers to help with choosing the right name for their baby.

Some Indians have a middle name, which is usually his/her father's name.

If someone is against the caste system, it is very likely that they will drop their surname and use their middle name as their new surname.

You may see some Indian (Tamil) names with initials. This is common in South India. In this case, the first letter of the initials is usually the first letter of his/her birth place, the second letter the person's father's name's initial, and this is followed by the surname.

The Name Ceremony

In India, typically there is a name ceremony on the tenth day, eleventh day, hundredth day, or first birthday of a baby.

The baby's naming ceremony (Namakarana) in a Hindu family is performed in front of a sacred fire in a temple or by inviting a priest to their home.

In the ceremony, the father writes the baby's name with a gold staff and prays to the gods to bless the new baby. The newborn is then cradled by the grandmother, who whisper the baby's name in the infant's ear.

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Indian Nicknames

Parents also give cute nicknames to their kids. Close friends and family often continue to use the nickname even when he/she is an adult.

Besides cute kid names, nicknames could simply be a short form of a given name, like Akki, which is short for Akshit.

How to Address an Indian Person

Indian people

In India, you would usually call a man by his surname and a woman by her given name. This is because many women change their surnames to their husbands'. So, it is clearer to call her by given name (especially when both husband and wife are present).

Polite expressions in English can also be used in India, such as "Mr." or "Mrs.". Another local popular polite expression is to add "Ji" behind the name which shows the respect, like "Tomji" or "Amyji".

There is also a special taboo in India. The wife cannot call her husband by his name, which is considered disrespectful. Wives usually use Babuji (meaning 'father of the baby') or 'you', instead of using their husband's name.

This is because, in traditional Indian society, the status of the husband is higher than the wife's. Indian women are told to respect their husbands from a very young age.

But now in some big cities in India, some highly educated women are breaking this "rule".

Indian kids

Here are some of the most popular and beautiful Indian names for girls and boys.

The names, whether for girls or boys, mainly focus on common themes such as beauty, divinity, and nature, and some relate to religious beliefs/practice.

50 Popular Indian Female/Girl Names

Girls' Name Meaning
Anaka Sweet-faced
Aija Melody; happy
Amberlie Amber
Bhumika Earth, base
Durga Invincible one
Hasina Good or beautiful
Pooja Prayer, worship
Shantae Stone
Niranjana Night of the full moon
Apsara Celestial maiden
Bhavika Righteous, pious
Niesha Alive and well
Kaeya Monsoon flower
Kanisha Glowing eyes
Shalini Modest
Abhaya Has no fear
Chella Liking for all; meadow on a ledge
Anjuli Blessing
Eshana Wish, desire
Harshita Always happy
Rachana Creation
Anusha God has favored me
Veena Lute
Shanti Peace
Azha Sunrise; goat; star
Chandani Star; moonlight
Laboni Grace
Jarita Mythical bird
Hansika Swan
Yanisha One with high hopes
Neha Loving; affectionate
Lata Beautiful vine
Devi Goddess
Sona Gold; wisdom; beautiful
Divya Divine brilliance
Charu Radiant, graceful
Reva Rain
Naya Renewal; fresh
Shaan peaceful; pride
Ambar Sky
Nila Blue
Ishani Desire; Goddess Durga, Parvati
Sitara Starlight
Amar Immortal one; Eternal
Jaya Victorious
Dayamai Kind; merciful
Heena Sensuous; beautiful woman
Sumana Flower; good-hearted
Eesha Powerful
Bhakti Faithfulness

20 Less-Common but Brilliant Indian Girl/Female Names

Girls' Name Meaning
Aarushi First ray of the sun
Advaita Union of matter and soul, Non-duality, Unique
Bhama Light
Chavi Reflection
Ganika Jasmine flower
Ishya Spring
Kalpi Imagined
Nainika pupil of the eye
Sagareka The waves in the ocean
Tapasi Ascetic
Tarana Daytime; meaning bring a sense of warmth and hope
Talika Nightingale
Sila Reunite
Safa Innocent and pure
Sadguna Good virtues
Zoya Love and care
Anitha Grace
>Harini Deer
Sanu Young
Kaira Peaceful; unique

50 Popular Indian Boy/Male Names

Boys' Name Meaning
Aadrik The sun rising between the mountains
Aakash Sky
Aarav Wisdom
Abhay Brave
Adhyan One who is rising
Ajay Triumphant kings
Chetan Intelligence; vigor; spirit of life
Diya Light, glow
Daksh Precious son
Darshil One who is good-looking, attractive, and sober
Eklavya loyal and brave student of Dronacharya in the Mahabharata epic
Gautam Wisest; another name for Lord Buddha
Hari The one who removes evil; another name for Lord Krishna
Harsh Joy; excitement; happiness
Ishank Peak of the mighty Himalayas
Ivaan Glorious and gracious gift of God
Jai Victory
Jeet One who overcomes all his problems
Kairav White lotus
Kavyansh Wisdom and intelligence
Lalit Handsome, charming, and graceful
Manvik A kind-hearted individual
Mohan One who can mesmerize people around him by his style, charm, and looks
Naitik A good-natured individual with great morals
Nikit One who is honest and has divine wisdom
Nirved A gift from the gods
Pratyush A person who is bright and radiant like the sun
Rajiv Successful
Ranveer Winner; one who is a hero of the battle
Rajat Courageous
Sathvik Calm and virtuous
Shaurya Bravery and power
Sumedh Intelligent and clever
Tanay A son
Tarak Star
Vatsal Adorable and affectionate
Vinay Humble and modest
Viraj Resplendent
Yashvir Brave and glorious
Tipu Tiger
Banjeet Mighty, victorious
Adhiraj King
Din Humble
Anshu Ray of sun
Nalin Lotus
Ruan Sandalwood; red; raising; ascending, tall
Johar Gem
Chander Moon
Sajan Loved one
Praneel Lord Shiva; kind; benign; auspicious

20 Best Indian Boys/Male Names that are Less-Common

Boys' Name Meaning
Madhavaditya Of the springtime
Purav Singing or chanting voice that comes from the East at sunrise
Miransh Small part of the ocean
Vishesh Something/someone special
Nishad Seventh note on the Indian musical scale
Omkar Sacred syllable of Hindus
Rakshan Protector; Preserver; 928th name of Lord Vishnu.
Prathmesh The best of the best among all gods
Prateek The first word in a sentence
Anshul One who is bright, radiant, and glows like a sunbeam
Anvit One who leads/guides others
Himanshu Moon
Kshitij The point where the earth and the sky meet
Nikunj Sweet-smelling fragrance
Prabhas Brilliant or lustrous
Riddhiman One who has good fortune
Vyom Sky
Ehsaan An act of compassion
Divit Someone immortal or reaching the sky
Bhavin Winner

10 Unisex Indian Names

Name Meaning
Chaila Handsome and charming
Harsha Joy; delight
Kadal Ocean
Deva Celestial spirit
Chandlan Beautiful and everlasting moon
Ishana Rich; prosperous
Daruka Pine tree
Druva Pole Star
Joarder Powerful
Harjot God light

Touring India with Us

Taking a trip to India is a great way to delve into and start learning about India's unique language(s), values, and customs. See our popular India tours:

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