What do YOU call your husband? The obvious answer is ‘his name’. That is what a name is for, isn’t it? To address someone, to call out to someone, to speak of someone and so on.
A recent real life incident had me thinking. A friend of mine that I have known for a few years calls her husband ‘Evandi’. As a result, we, her friends, thought his name was “Evandi’ and for all these years he has been called ‘Evandi’ by her women friends and even by a lot of the men in the social circle. This husband is known by the trendier ‘A1D’ among his office mates who are largely non-Indian. Recently we found out that Evandi’s real name is not ‘Evandi’ at all. In fact it’s not even a name! In Telugu, this is the word used by a wife to address her husband. A word that signifies respect and one that women use, to avoid calling the husband by his real name!
This incident has us all in splits of laughter and my friend who is very sporting, does not mind us continuing to call the man ‘ Evandi’. However, the husband, a much-embarrassed man is trying to make us all call him by his real name, which no one can remember.
‘Evandi’ is similar to the word ‘Aho’ which is used in Maharashtra. I can remember women of my grandparents’ generation, using the word ‘Aho’.
In those days, the wife never called her husband by his real name. She always respectfully called her husband ‘Aho’ and if speaking about her husband, would always refer to him as ‘Hey’ [not to be confused with how we use the word ‘Hey’, today]. ‘Hey’, in Marathi literally means ‘They’ or for addressing someone in the plural, signifying respect towards the person who is being spoken about. In that generation, some husbands would, in turn, refer to their wife as ‘Aho’, which was, I suppose, mutual respect.
After the couple had children, a husband could also call out to his wife using the children’s’ name as ‘So-and so ’s mother’ or the wife would call the husband ‘So-and-So ‘s father’. Calling out to each other by the name given at birth was considered rude and for a woman to use her husband’s name, almost, blasphemous! In that era, in fact, a lot of women in Maharashtra did not address each other by simply their name. The suffix of ‘Bai’ or Tai’ or something similar was must. The suffix of ‘Saheb’ or ‘Rao’ or something similar was added to a man’s name to denote respect. The wife of course, continued to call the husband ‘Aho’ and the only times she had the privilege of uttering his real name was in the ‘Nav ghene’ ceremony. There is a charming little tradition among us Maharashtrians, where the wife makes up a couplet to incorporate her husband’s real name and recites the couplet in public, usually at weddings and other social functions. Bashfully and discreetly murmuring her husband’s name [suffixed with ‘Saheb’, Rao or similar], this ‘Nav Ghene’ programme was a much-awaited fun event. ‘Nav Ghene’ literally translates to ‘ Taking name’ and even in this couplet recitation; the wife would sometimes shy away from taking the husband’s real name and end up replacing his name with ‘Hey’ or ‘Amche Hey’ [My ‘Hey’]. Such was the discomfiture associated with saying a husband’s name.
In my parents’ generation, women continued to use ‘Aho’ but I have observed that it isn’t with the same kind of deference that the older generation used. The ‘Aho’ just wasn’t said as demurely and submissively as the previous generation. Calling out ‘AHO’ is a loud commanding voice, as in.” Aho! Go get the milk” said in Marathi is an example where although the word ‘Aho’ is used, it is not used as respectfully as it is meant to be. In fact, in this generation, some women started calling their husband by their real name and I remember hearing sniggering and whispering people call the woman ‘modern’, ‘forward’ and ‘bold’! Most women of this generation, however continued with ‘Aho’ and recently my daughter thought my father-in-law’s name was ‘Aho’!
Fast forward to my generation [I am in my forties, so cannot really say new generation]. I always assumed women of my age called out to their husbands by their names. I call my husband by all sorts of nicknames and pet names which my grandmothers would never approve of. The only time I call him ‘Hey’ is ‘Hey, let’s go out today!’ or something similar. We had a ‘Nav Ghene’ programme in our wedding and that was more to do with compiling cheeky couplets and we both took turns reciting them.
So, recent conversations with some of my friends and acquaintances, many 10 years younger than me, brought up some very interesting and shocking facts.
Even in this day and age, plenty of women in India do not utter their husband’s name. There are equivalents words for ‘Aho’ and ‘Hey’ in many Indian languages. Words that are meant to show respect for the man, the husband. Does the husband have a similar word for the wife? Something that denotes mutual respect? Well, not always. So the husband can call the wife by her given birth name or the name that he has given her after marriage [which is another debate!], while the wife is not allowed to say his name. As if rolling his name off her tongue would end in some kind of catastrophe. Pray tell me, what is a name for, in that case and why is everyone else, except the wife allowed to use the name?
As it turns out, a lot of women who do continue to use these synonyms for ‘husband’ are doing it for simply keeping a tradition alive. A tradition many would like to view as charming, old- world, a sign of good upbringing, being ‘cultured’ and what not.
Another reason many women are reluctant to use the husband’s name is to avoid upsetting the in-laws. Yes, in a lot of families, calling the husband by his name in public and probably in private is just not acceptable. Parents-in-law frown and forbid it. Parents of the woman, too, second this view. What chance does the woman have when everything is loaded against her? Why try to defy an age-old tradition and family pressure when it is just easy to call the husband by a ‘synonym’. Of course, there are many husbands who love this show of veneration, enjoying this display of reverence and subservient stance taken by the wife. While some leave it to the preference of the wife, others demand being called by these euphemistic names and insist on being addressed in plural, especially in front of relatives and friends.
Some women choose to take the middle ground by using the hubby’s real name or pet name in private but strictly adhering to the favoured, traditional ‘respectful’ terms in the company of the elders of the family.
While there is no right or wrong and women and men have the right to choose what they want do or not do in life, there is a big question that arises from this whole name-calling.
We have the right to make choices in our lives. What we call our spouse is or should be a personal preference. If a woman wants and loves to call her husband ‘Evandi’ out of her choice, that is fine. If another woman prefers calling her husband ‘Honey’, out of choice, then that is alright too.

What is not alright is being forced to call your husband a certain ‘respectful’ term to adhere to the tag of being a good ‘cultured’ woman who obeys and respects her husband or being coerced into thinking that addressing your husband in such a manner will make him more worthy of respect.
What is not acceptable is when you force yourself to address him as ‘His Highness’ or ‘Your Lordship’ and do not have an iota of respect for the man.
What is not alright is when the respect is not mutual. Your husband demands respect because he is older than you as if being born earlier makes him superior to you. Your husband insists on being called ‘Your majesty’ while you serve him the master. But in return, do you get addressed by a similar title that designates respect?
What about your own respect? How is it that you can be called by real name?
Isn’t marriage an equal partnership or is this a wrong assumption in the first place?
Many quote tradition to enforce addressing the husband by a synonym.
But isn’t tradition ‘man-made’ and like so many traditions we blindly follow, doesn’t this one smack of patriarchy in Indian society?

We would love to believe that life is about choices and respecting others’ choices. But the choice cannot be enforced and one cannot be intimidated into making it, using tradition and other male-centric institutions as an excuse.
Whether you choose to call your husband ‘Emandi’, ‘Aye Ji’, …………Pappu, Bunny, Baby, Darling or just ‘Munni’s father’, it should solely be your free choice.

If it’s a term of endearment, coming straight from the heart, what’s in a name? If the respect is mutual and you get a ‘Jee’ for a ‘Jee’, an ‘Aho’ for an ‘Aho’, that would be even better…because love cannot be one-sided.

THIS FIRST APPEARED IN WOMENSWEB http://www.womensweb.in/2015/04/what-do-you-call-your-husband/


5 REASONS WHY WOMEN CHANGE THEIR MAIDEN SURNAME AFTER MARRIAGE and 4 reasons why they just shouldn’t bother.

photoI am a woman, a feisty feminist and yet I am going to tell you why women like me change their surname after marriage.

What’s in a name? : Think of a surname as a ‘tag’ to group together people. After marriage you and your spouse become a partners in life. Wherever you go, people see you two as a package. Why should the package not a have a common tag, a common label for the purpose of identification? So lets say, we have Miss Kumarika Shubhnam who gets married to Mr. Kumar Upnaam. [Names have been changed for privacy]

After marriage, isn’t it just easier to tag them as Mr. and Mrs. Upnaam? Makes it easy for people to know they belong to one family. If they have children, they get tagged as the Upnaam kids and we know who the mother of the children is. Simple it’s Mrs. Kumarika Upnaam. Imagine if she used her maiden surname and the kids got lost in a fair [‘mela’]. How would anyone be able to connect the kids to the mother just by looking at the name?

Yes, so think of the surname as a tag for the family. For identification purposes. Not to be confused with ‘identity’, which we shall look at later.

To avoid social confusion: Someone wants to invite you and your spouse for a party. What do they write? If the woman uses her maiden surname, should they write?

‘We request the pleasure of the company of Mr. Upnaam and Miss Shubhnaam? ‘Who are these two? Are they related? Or should they write Mrs. Shubhnaam? Or does she call herself Ms. Shubhnaam? At the party, how should people address the lady? Miss S? Ms. S? Mrs. S? Mrs. U? Or just simply Kumarika? Why add to the confusion of life? Why make life more complicated than it already is? Mr. and Mrs. Upnaam sounds so simple to deal with. Nothing wrong with just Kumarika either.

To make paperwork easy: What name is our lady going to have on her passport? On her marriage certificate? On the birth certificate of her children? On the ration card? Joint bank accounts? Credit card? Will? Property papers?

While people will always call her Mrs. Upnaam, her insistence to hang on to her maiden surname is going to create more work in terms of paperwork. Why go through all this trouble every time you start a joint venture with your spouse?

People will ask for your marriage certificate everywhere. People will make mistakes. Airline staff for example will get confused. Ms. Shubhnaam may not get seats with the Upnaam kids and Mr. Upnaam. Phew!

Your name changes, YOU don’t: We women have a lot to contend with after getting married. A new home, a new additional family, a new husband. There are enough hurdles, enough obstacles to jump over. One has to choose ones’ battles. Why have a war over a surname? Is it our identity? No. It’s just an identifying mark. Is it going to make you a different human or a changed personality? No. Is it going to take away the fact that you will always be your parents’ daughter with all the values they gave you? No. Is it going to wipe away your past? No. Is it going to change your future? No. Is it going to lower your self esteem? No. Then why resist the labeling? Just because the label changes, the package doesn’t.


  • You don’t want people to find you: yes, enough women who don’t want ex- boyfriends, ex-stalkers, ex-husbands or just unpleasant people to find you and your whereabouts. So just go with the flow and get yourself a new surname. Problem solved.

Now here are 5 compelling reasons why one should keep one’s maiden surname. Yes, hang on to it for dear life, come what may:

  • Your husband has a funny surname: Yes, you love him but can’t bear the thought of going through life with a surname that will make you wince and cringe in embarrassment. Do not part with your maiden surname.
  • You passed important exams, got degrees and lots of alphabets added to your maiden name. You’ve got research papers in your name. You want people to Google you and come up with prestigious search results that get you further up on the career ladder. I would say hang on to your maiden surname. Or maybe just keep your professional life separate from your personal life. So Dr [Ms.] Kumarika Shubhnaam for your patients and Mrs. Upnaam for your child’s teacher.
  • You want your old childhood, school, and college friends to know who you are. Especially on Facebook where you look for old classmates, people search for old flames and who knows who is looking for you. Maybe someone left you an inheritance and looking for you in your maiden name. Or maybe some long lost cousin looking for you. In that case, flimsy as it sounds; if it makes you happy, keep your old surname.
  •  If your husband insists on changing your first name as well as your surname! Yes, plenty of husbands in this day and era do. So now instead of Miss Kumarika Shubhnam, meet Mrs. Ardhangini Upnaam! No! Maybe time to have a good hard look at the man you intend to marry and confirm if you really want to go ahead and what else he expects you to change besides just your name.


The best middle ground is to have a double-barreled surname. One that fuses your past with your present. Your bachelorette days with your married days. One that marries the two labels to get one long, impressive, tongue twister of a surname. But if you have long surnames, just think of how you will be introducing your self to strangers. Every time you start off it will be like reciting the Mahabharata while the person in front of you stifles a yawn. Will they remember your double-barreled surname? Will they remember to call you Mrs. Shubhnam-Upnaam next time? What about the poor kids? What about your daughter when she gets married? Will she be called Mrs. Shubhnam-Upnaam-Parinaam?

For the sake of our future generations and yourself, please ladies, whatever you do, whatever your label, whatever your name tag, DO NOT lose your identity.

You are what you are. Don’t let a name define you.