So, what is in a name?
This special May Bank Holiday feature is dedicated to me. Well, my name anyway. I am sure that many of you are aware that my first name is Vijay. You however may not know its meaning or how I came by it.
A month after I was born, I was registered at the Barking & Dagenham Sub-District registry office of births and deaths under an English name by my father, who was from that ethnicity – my mother is Indo-Mauritian. However by my 16th birthday, the family dynamics had changed and I was taken to a solicitors’ office in Romford Road, Manor Park, here in London, where I had my name legally changed by deed poll, just before I was due to start sixth-form college. I got to choose my first name, and I opted for Vijay as it sounded a little bit like my previous name. I also made that particular choice because I felt it suited me and sounded ‘intelligent’. I soon developed an understanding of the meaning of my new first name and now, twelve years later, this blogpost will share that understanding with you all, as well as a small celebration of how different and unique, at least here in England, my name is.
The name ‘Vijay‘ originates from India, where my maternal ancestors also came from. It is generally a Hindu name, although by no means is its use strictly confined to Hindu or even ethnic Indian parents. While the name is popular over most parts of India, in my mother’s homeland of Mauritius, it is not very common. Here in the United Kingdom, it is virtually exclusive to the settled Indian and probably the Mauritian communities here, and even among them its usage among new parents is astonishingly rare. Though not strictly a religious name, it appears in the epic Mahabharat as a descriptor of the warrior Arjuna (Arjun), the friend and devotee of Lord Krishna. It just so happens that my youngest brother is named Arjun and I often give him advice, but I have no claims to be a God.
There is a female version of my name, ‘Vijaya‘, which is even more scarce than its male counterpart. In the south of India, especially among Tamils, there is a longer female name which has my name plus a lot more. ‘Vijayalakshmi‘ is a traditional name, also taken from Sanskrit, and roughly translates as ‘victorious goddess”. In the Bengali-speaking areas of India, my name is written and pronounced as “Bijoy“, in the same way that ‘Juan’ is the Spanish variation of the English first name ‘John’. In neighbouring Nepal, my name is transcribed as ‘Bijay‘. Returning back to Tamil Nadu, there is ‘Vijayan‘ – with an additional ‘-an’ suffix which is often applied to Tamil names of Sanskrit origins. In India, the name ‘Vijay’ and its variants was allegedly popularised by Bollywood movie legend Amitabh Bachchan, who during the apex of his career in the Sixties and Seventies was said to have played characters called ‘Vijay’ in nearly three-quarters of his films. There is also a newer actor in Tamil films who is popularly known by his middle name, which just happens to be Vijay (His full name is Joseph Vijay Chandrasekhar, by the way).
It comes ultimately from Sanskrit, the ancient liturgical and ancestral language of much of the Asian subcontinent, and its meaning is “victory” or “victorious (over all things)”. It is analogous with the European name Victor (Viktor) and both have the same meaning. Over the years many nicknames and affectionate derivations of my given name have been thought up by friends and family. My sisters call me ‘Jay‘ for short, while colleagues at work have conveniently lopped off the second syllable, and call me “Vee“! Some of my mates call me ‘Vaja‘ or ‘Rajah‘, and I have started using ‘Rajah’ as a nickname on my Facebook profile. Shaniya, my four-year-old niece, God bless her, cannot pronounce the ‘v’ in my name and hence to her I’m her ‘Bijay-mama‘ (Vijay Uncle). My niece’s way of innocently trying to say her uncle’s moniker has itself passed into family nickname folklore ( Cheers, Anjali 😛 ). On and off usually in instant messaging conversation, I am called ‘VJ‘ in text language.
“People with this name have a deep inner desire to use their abilities in leadership, and to have personal independence. They would rather focus on large, important issues, and delegate the details.”
“People with this name tend to be a powerful force to all whose lives they touch. They are capable, charismatic leaders who often undertake large endeavors with great success. They value truth, justice, and discipline, and may be quick-tempered with those who do not. If they fail to develop their potential, they may become impractical and rigid.”
(from SheKnows Baby Names)
Of course, as every person with an Indian name will tell you, indigenous Britons often struggle with the pronunciation of their names. My name is not difficult to pronounce, but even then people will make a hash job of it. The commonest mistake is for associates to pronounce the first syllable of my name with a long “ii” sound, like as in “magazine”. Technically and accurately, it is meant to be said with a short ‘i’ sound, as in ‘ship’. It does not really bother me though, and understandably I am more than forgiving to people who have probably never heard my name before. However, especially when I am introduced to people for the first time, it gets really hilarious. A person I was introduced to at a university rave was unable to hear me properly above the chatter-laced din of several dozen partygoers and thought I was named ‘Nigel’. I’ve also been called ‘Roger’ and by a similar-sounding Indian name….’Sanjay’. Too funny. By the way, my cousin in Mauritius calls me ‘Deepak’, also due to mishearing me when I first met her.
In the United States in 2012, the name is ranked 5,937 in popular baby names for boys with fifteen occurrences, according to a baby names website. I could not find anything on Google for the name’s popularity ranking in the UK or India.
The name Vijay has a web popularity of 74,000,000 pages.
Vijay has a Facebook presence of 47,700,000 pages.
Vijay has a Google+ Plus presence of 417,000 pages.
Vijay has a Linkedin presence of 4,700,000 pages.
Vijay has a Twitter presence of 346,000 pages.
Classmates.com has 13,500 occurrences for name Vijay.
White Pages has 374,000 occurrences for name Vijay.
(Stats from name-list.net)
I share my name with many famous celebrities and luminaries, the vast majority from India. You can see a full list of them at this Wikipedia link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vijay
Here’s how my name is written in various Indian and other alphabets/languages. Please be aware though, that some transliteration may be inaccurate and not all alphabet typefaces will render well in all browsers or individual’s PCs :-
Виджай (Bulgarian, Russian)
维杰 (Chinese – simplified)
維杰 (Chinese – traditional)
विजय (Hindi, Sanskrit, Marathi, Konkani etc)
To wrap up this special feature, the following is a list of wallpapers and images featuring my name, so if you’re reading this and you also happen to be called Vijay, first I want to say welcome to the Half-Eaten Mind, brother-in-name, and secondly, feel free to help yourself.
“Vijay” – Our Baby Namer/OurBabyNamer.com LINK
“What Is the Meaning of the Name Vijay?” – Ask Jeeves, IAC Search & Media LINK
“Vijay” – SheKnows Baby Names, SheKnows, LLC. LINK
“Name: Vijay” – babynamesworld, Viacom International Inc. LINK
“Vijay – details and analysis” – name-list.net LINK
Google Translate, Google Inc. LINK
Google Input Tools, Google Inc. LINK
“tmp_20140505_1145001272787111” – Vijay Shah/The Half-Eaten Mind, Flickr (5 May 2014) LINK
“Preview of “In Love” for name: Vijay” – 3D Name Wallpapers, 3D Names LINK
“26 3D Names for the name of “Vijay” ” – 3D Name Wallpapers, 3D Names LINK
“Preview of “Grid Style” for name: Vijay” – 3D Name Wallpapers, 3D Names LINK
“Preview of “Black Background” for name: Vijay” – 3D Name Wallpapers, 3D Names LINK
“Vijay Picture Palace” – Sangam Group LINK
“Vijay Road Equipment” – Indiamart, IndiaMART InterMESH Ltd. LINK
Vijay Awards, Vijay Television LINK
“Beyond LPG” – Shri Balaji Agencies LINK
DJVijay, Vijay Kumaran/djvijay.com LINK
“Vijay TV: Jodi No 1” – Final Destination for Movies Download + Cricket + TV Serials (1 April 2008) LINK