pal1 The Naming Ceremony
by Sunayna Pal

“Look at the cute smile, any name will look good on her,”
said my mother’s sis to the group and made my mom smile.
It was the 6th day of my life and my name was to be decided.
The Pandit (wise man) looked at my horoscope and said
“It would be best if it started with the letter G or S.
How about the name Gaurja, meaning Goddess Parvati?”
“What kind of name is that” asked my father’s sister
scrunching her nose as a sign of disgust.
My mother shifted in her seat and looked at my father.
My father’s niece exclaimed, “Look at her big expressive eyes,
Sunayna would be a good name, it means beautiful eyes.”
“She surely has them,” joined in my aunt.
“There is a recent movie by that name too!
with a lovely song,” said my mother’s sister.
“Oh it will be perfect,” thought my mother,
and thus it was decided and so it is now.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author at the beach.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:  I am surprised at how much I remember things. When I was a kid, my mom told me a couple of times how my name was decided. I recently asked her to tell me the story again, but she didn’t remember it. I told her what I remembered, which jogged her memory — and she told me what I’d remembered was correct.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sunayna Pal, born and brought up in Mumbai, India, shifted to the U.S. after her marriage. She has PG degrees from XLRI and Annamalai University, and worked in the Corporate World for five odd years — but quit it in 2009 and embarked on her heart’s pursuits. She started “Art with Sunayna” ( to teach and sell art for NGOs (non-governmental organizations). She is also a certified graphologist ( who helps people better understand themselves by using a mix of graphotherapy, healing, and affirmations. She is also a homemaker, gardener, photographer, and bird watcher, and finds the time to write from her daily life experiences. Sunayna was the Mumbai reporter for Evergreen Magazine. Many of her articles have been published in TOI, New Woman, and Women’s Era, and she is a proud contributor to many other e-magazines and sites. She contributed to the anthologies Mighty Thoughts, The Second Life, Memoirs of Love, and Rhymes and Rhythm. In her little spare time, she maintains a blog at She is currently writing an anthology of 51 stories on the lives of 51 south Asian people in the USA.