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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Indian villages ~ Naming pattern ~ how much you know your village ?

Dusi, Sevilimedu,  Nemili, Seevaram, Vada Mavanthal, Suruttal, Vadakalpakkam, Vazhavandal, Thiruvadirayapuram, Kizhnelli, Karanthi, Sumangali, Perumanthangal, Thandappanthangal, Vadamanapakkam, Thalarapadi, Pulundai, Pullavakkam, Booderi, Arathrivelur, Hasanampettai, Thenkazhani, Kaganam………………….. wonder what these are  ?

India, Maha Barath, Bharatha kandam now has a total geo-graphical area of 3,287,240 This includes 120,849 sq. km. of area under the illegal occupation of Pakistan and China. The largest state in India in terms of geographical area is Rajasthan with an area of 342,239  Backbone of the Nation is villages and Tamil Nadu alone has more than 16000 villages. 

The 15th Indian census was conducted in two phases, house listing and population enumeration. House listing phase began in April 2010 and involved collection of information about all buildings. The second population enumeration phase was conducted in February 2011. Census has been conducted in India since 1872 and 2011 marks the first time biometric information was collected. According to the provisional reports released on 31 March 2011, the Indian population increased to 1.21 billion with a decadal growth of 17.64%. Adult literacy rate increased to 74.04% with a decadal growth of 9.21%. The motto of census 2011 was 'Our Census, Our future'.

Spread across 28 states and 7 union territories, the Census covered 640 districts, 5767 tehsils, 7742 towns and more than 6 lac villages.  There can be various usage from the analysis of details made available based on the coding pattern recommended by Metadata and Data Standards (MDDS).  The Location Code Directory  provides unique codes on All India basis which can be used for various e-Governance purposes. The coding convention used is as described below:

1. The State code of 2 digits within India has been used similar to the one used in earlier census.
2. The District code of 3 digits continuous code within India has been given.
3. The Sub-district code of 5 digits continuous code within India has been used.
4. The Village code of 6 digits has been used continuous code within India. Range of 000001 – 799999 has been kept for Villages.

How much do you know of your ancestral village and when was your last visit to your village ? Does any of your relative live there ? Do you have any agricultural land over there ? Do you know any of the persons still living in your village ? Did you contribute at least a small amount to the presiding deity in your village ?  ~ most of these Qs would be answered in the negative by modern day office goers living comfortably in modern cities with all amenities……

Here is an interesting newsarticle read in ‘The Indian Express’ of date:  “3,626 villages named after Ram, 3,309 after Krishna


What's in a name, or two, or 6,77,459? In the case of India's villages, that list tells us they love Gods, Goddesses, nation builders and mythologies above all else, and that, when they migrate, they often take the name of their place of origin with them. The Indian Express went through the names of all 6,77,459, inhabited and uninhabited, villages in India, as listed in Census 2011 — data for which was released recently.

Lord Ram ranks way up there, with 3,626 villages named after him, in almost all parts of the country except Kerala, while Lord Krishna is a close second at 3,309.

There are 92 villages in the country whose names start with Bengal/ Bangal and all of them are located outside West Bengal, including Maharashtra, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. There are 33 villages named Kerala outside the state, mainly in the northern parts. There are 17 villages in the name of Prayag (the old name of Allahabad) and 41 named Kashi (the old name of Varanasi). There are 28 Agras outside Uttar Pradesh (most of them in Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam), while 189 village names start with Bihar, of which 171 are outside Bihar. There are 28 villages named Dhaka (the capital of Bangladesh) and 40 in the name of Nepal. Besides, there are 47 villages whose names start with Badri and 75 which feature Kedar — invoking the religious sites which were among the worst hit in the Uttarakhand floods. Most of these villages are located in Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

Other Ramayana characters too figure among the names, Bharat (187 villages) is marginally ahead of Lakshman (160). Hanuman has 367 villages in his name, while Sita has 75. While at least six villages in the country exist in the name of Ravana, and three in the name of his father Ahiravan (all in Bihar), no village is named after Ravana's brother Vibheeshana who crossed over to Ram's side. Some villages in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are named Ayodhya.

When it comes to Mahabharata, Krishna remains the popular choice by far. While there is no Kurukshetra (except Haryana's original Kurukshetra) village in the country, only two villages are named after Yudhisthira, the symbol of truth. There are 385 named after Bhim, and 259 in the name of the other popular Pandava brother, archer Arjun. Only one village bears the name of the patriarch Bhishma and that is in Orissa's Ganjam district.

Not surprisingly, in a country where fealty comes easy, 'Raja' (king), 'Rani' (queen), emperors and sultans dot the list. Leaders of modern India too are a popular choice. Jawaharlal Nehru figures in 72 village names, and there are 117 in the name of Mahatma Gandhi. While there is no village in the name of former PM Lal Bahadur Shastri, 13 are in the name of B R Ambedkar, 36 are named after Indira Gandhi and 19 after Rajiv. Among the Mughal emperors, Akbar tops the list at 234 villages. His grandfather Babur has 62 villages in his name while father Humayun has only 30.

Interestingly, while 51 villages are named after Shahjahan, only eight are in the name of Aurangzeb (all in Bijnore district of UP). Moving on, if Sholay's infamous dacoit-affected village Ramgarh has 163 namesakes, there are as many as 27 villages named 'Pipli', same as the village in the Aamir Khan production Pipli Live.

While the study of names in general and place names in particular sheds some light on the history, culture and migration trends of any country, there is a lack of expertise in India on the subject. The study of names is called Onomastics and the specific study of place names is called Toponymy. An IAS officer of Orissa cadre, R Balakrishnan, is involved in place name studies for 25 years and has published many research papers and delivered lectures in different universities on the subject. A systematic study of names can throw light on many obscure pages of Indian prehistory and history, he says.

"Place names are the fossilised representation of an immemorial past. They provide reliable markers for reconstructing the source and trajectories of past migrations, as immigrants in the past have invariably carried the place names of their origins and re-used those names in their new-found homelands. Hence, a comparative study of identical name clusters can offer valid clues to the movement of people from one region to another," Balakrishnan says.


Those at the start are some of the villages nearer my village Mamandur [Dusi Mamandur for reference] in Cheyyar, Tiruvannamalai district and a photo of Sri Lakshmi Narayana Perumal kovil  and Perumal at my native village -  at a time when crowds gathered to witness the Samprokshanam on 5th Sept 2010. [photos taken by me]

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

4th July 2013.

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