Friday, 6 March 2015

What's in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;

Asian names are a bit of a challenge

Each race has their own way of having their name written.  I am Indian and I was born into the Sikh religion, and we complicated things even more when our tenth and last Guru,  Guru Gobind Singh decreed that we were to have  Kaur ( for females) and Singh (for males) as our last names.

(See below for an excerpt from Wiki explaining the Singh & Kaur names)

So my name in full is very different from what I am known as to all my friends, family, acquaintances, on social media, colleagues, suppliers, work related partners..... well you get the drift..
I am known to everyone as Puteh Gurm.  Puteh is not my given name it is a nickname my grandmother gave me when I was a couple of months old as I was a very fair baby and Puteh means white in Malay

I grew up hating my real name (I still do) as no one could pronounce it, and that included the "Kaur".  Chinese and Malay friends and colleagues didn't understand nor did they want to try to understand, what my name meant and why I had the Kaur in it.  I also had my family name Gurm tagged on at the end, which confused them even more. On all official documents like passport, bank accounts etc, my real full name is listed.  On my business cards and my email address I am Puteh Gurm.. Even my own mother uses this nick name and not my real name.

The Malays have a different way of naming their children.  for example a woman would have a name like Roslinda binte Suleiman.  It translates to Roslinda daughter of Suleiman.  A male child would have Roslan Bin Suleiman, Roslan son of Suleiman... So its not really a surname or family name like Smith or Jones. Each child would just have their fathers name at the end,

The Chinese have a surname but they tag it at the beginning  of their names - example Tan Ming Choo - Tan being the surname or family name.  Some Indians only have one name and follow the Malay way, and add in the fathers name at the end of it........
Yes it is as complicated as it sounds and most of us don't bother to learn the differences in the way names are being written or which one is the last name or the first name.

Try cleaning up a database of names where first names were entered last and surnames first, for a 500 guest event, with guests from all races and having a registration list that states last names first.......

I wrote this post because I am tired of being addressed as Mr. Puteh on emails.
Now firstly lets talk about the fact  that they didn't bother to find out if I am Male or Female, they assumed.
Secondly they used my first name thinking that it would be like the Chinese ( funny how the dominant majority always think that everyone follows their way) way of having the family name written first.
So today I politely wrote back to the person informing them of the oversight

"FYI it is Ms not Mr and Puteh is my first name so to address me using Ms it should be Ms Gurm or just Puteh".

Its not only on email but at airports especially at the Australian Immigration that I get asked repeatedly why I have entered Gurm as family name when it should be Kaur......No it isn't supposed to be Kaur.  I have the right to use Kaur as a  MIDDLE name   (or rather its in my bloody passport and birth certificate so I cant get rid of it if I wanted to .....I could by deed poll but that's just too damn difficult)

Gurm is my last name, that is the family name and I will use that as my last name on all immigration forms.....but the Australian Immigration  just aren't culturally advanced enough to listen when I try to explain it.  I get told off for being difficult!

Trust me, I want it simple too.  I just want to be known as Puteh Gurm.......

Excerpt from Wiki - the part about gender equality is fascinating....I wonder if the less progressive in the Sikh religion knew that.....
Kaur is a name used by Sikh women either as the middle name, or as a last name. It can be regarded as a true surname.[citation needed] The tenth guru of Sikhs, Guru Gobind Singh, made it mandatory for Sikh females to use the name Kaur and for Sikh males to use the name Singh, when he administered Amrit (baptism) to both males and female Sikhs. All female Sikhs were asked to use the name Kaur after their forename and males were to use the name Singh. (Since 'Kaur' means "Princess", the name acts as a symbol of equality among males and females.) This custom further confirmed the equality of both genders as was the tradition set by the founder of Sikhism, Shri Guru Nanak Dev Ji. It was intended to give women a sense of self-respect. Singh is also used by some females because Singh can be a last name. It is the most common last name used by Sikhs.
Kaur provides Sikh women with a status equal to all men. This was also intended to reduce the prejudice created by caste-typing based on the family name. Prejudice based on caste was still rampant during Guru Gobind's time (17th century). This particularly affected women who were expected to take their husband's family name upon marriage.[2][3] The British required women to take on their husbands' names.
Sikh principles believe that all men and women are completely equal. Therefore, a woman is a princess and can lead her own life as an individual, equal to men. She does not need a man's title to raise her own status. Saying this would go against the principles stated in the Sri Guru Granth Sahib, the religious text of Sikhism. Guru Nanak Dev Ji states:
From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married.

Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come.
When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound.
So why call her inferior? From her, kings are born.
From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all.

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