Popular Indian Baby Names -- But Really, What's In a Name?
Updated: Mar 4
Of all the things modern would-be parents can stress over – is the $300 bassinet just as good as the cheaper one? Is a wipe warmer really necessary? And what his this contraption that supposedly sucks my infant’s snot out of her nose? – one of the most fret-inducing is choosing a name. It’s the first thing your baby will identify with and it’s something they’ll hold on to forever.
Baby names can be a particular challenge for American parents who come from a different culture. While my husband and I both are of South Asian descent, his family is Catholic, so he was named Matthew – the 13th most-common name in the US in the past 100 years. I can guarantee you that my name, Avani, has never made the list.
So when we found out we were expecting our son, this proved to be a challenge. Matt wanted an Americanized name – after all, he grew up with an easily-pronounceable name that didn’t require a lot of “wait, what is it? How do you spell it? Can you say it again?” Despite desperately wanting my name to be Ashley growing up, as an adult, I appreciate my name for what it is: Unique, rich in meaning and a tie to the motherland.
There are pros and cons to both, of course. There are studies going back 70 years that have shown unusual names could have a negative effect on employment and socio-economic status. And a more traditional name can still be rich in meaning.
In the end, Matt and I settled for what we consider a happy compromise. Matt liked the names Lucas and Liam – the 3rd and 4th most popular baby boy names in the US in 2016, the year our son was born. Sometime during my months of painstaking research of “easy to pronounce Indian baby names” (literally what I typed into Google), I’d come across the name Niam. It means “rule” or “contribution of god,” in Sanskrit and it puts an Indian twist on a very familiar name. It was settled.
Looking for an easily-pronounceable but still meaningful name? Below are some of the top trending Indian baby names abroad:
We asked our followers on Instagram to share their kids' names. Hope this list helps inspire you!
Indian Girl Names
Anika / Annika
Avani / Avni
Kareena / Karina
Indian Boy Names
Aaryan / Ariyan
Ayan / Aayan / Ayaan
Jaiyan / Jayan
Kaiden / Kayden
Neel / Neil
Nevaan / Nivaan
Niam / Niyam
Rayan / Rehaan
Avani Nadkarni is a former journalist who currently works in tech PR and is forever navigating the tricky balance of trying to raise her child in the U.S. while teaching him about his Indian and Sri Lankan roots.