October 24th, 2011
04:04 PM ET

'Nakusa' no more: 220 Indian girls participate in renaming ceremony

What’s in a name? Everything, for girls in India’s Maharashthra state who recently got new names in an unprecedented ceremony that allowed them to shed a label with a bad meaning.

More than 220 girls in the district of Satara received the new names after being labeled “Nakusa” – unwanted – by families desperately wanting a male child.

Bhagvan Pawar, the district health officer who organized the renaming ceremony, told CNN Monday that he started working on the project one year ago and that he saw it as an obligation to help restore some self-esteem to the young girls.

"The parents, they don't want a female, they want a male child," he said. "But we did this to help them (the girls). We are trying to get them beyond this."

Video of the girls, as posted on Youtube, showed long lines of women and girls holding placards in support of the initiative.

Social mores about the enormous expense heaped upon families who have to marry off girls is just one reason they are seen as unwanted, Pawar said. Also contributing to the negativity are the census numbers that show the district’s sex ratio is about 980 females per 1,000 males, according to the Wall Street Journal.

At the renaming ceremony, the girls were allowed a name of their choosing, Pawar said - and they're doing well now. "Most of them are in school," he said. “We have scheduled 30-minute follow-ups with them,” Pawar said.  “They are good now. They are very happy with their new names.”

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Filed under: India • World
soundoff (59 Responses)
  1. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Educated American, 6:52:
    Who are you to tell somebody else how to spress himself?

    October 25, 2011 at 7:13 am | Report abuse |
  2. Sheryl

    Joey, you really must be more considerate of others' feelings.
    Not just everybody had the wealthy, warmly nurturing parents that gave you such advantages in life.
    Where's my baby seal wrap?
    And I'd stop eating snails, if I were you. One of these days, some ethically educated, conscientious PETA person is going to throw a bucket of them into your face.
    And try to get off Bayer aspirin!
    You're not a nice person.

    October 25, 2011 at 7:39 am | Report abuse |
  3. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    @ Sheryl:
    I never said that I was a nice person.

    October 25, 2011 at 7:40 am | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    When life throws a bucket of snails at you, pass the butter.

    October 25, 2011 at 8:06 am | Report abuse |
  5. Joey Isotta-Fraschini

    Guten Morgen, Donna.

    October 25, 2011 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  6. banasy©

    Guten Morgan, Joey.

    October 25, 2011 at 8:10 am | Report abuse |
  7. lolaliberal

    Guys- female infanticide does indeed happen in India. In alarming numbers, and children who are relinquished, female or male- because their parents cannot care for them often carry the stigma (in India) of being castoffs. Regardless of the issues other countries may face, and certainly America isn't blameless- this is something that could change in India. Change the dowry system so that parents aren't crippled by enormous payments to groom's families. I agree that Western culture and mores shouldn't be imposed on other countries- but I think that we can all agree that devaluing women and leaving families with no options when faced with a girl baby isn't sound moral practice. And I would question the poster who said that these girls should be able to rise above their names- certainly they have an uphill fight as it is. I can't see the harm in letting the tag that they present to the world on a daily basis be one of dignity and respect.

    October 25, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
    • krm1007

      Catharsis is good but wont do any good in India's case. Why? because the problem with India is that is built on a system of cultural and societal values based on Hinduism which is a cult. Nations built on a cult seldom survive in the long run. That is the reason why hindus have been ruled by muslims most of their history who gave them most of their art, architecture, science, culinary delights, poetry, engineering etc.

      October 25, 2011 at 5:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. krm1007

    The problem with India is that is built on a system of cultural and societal values based on Hinduism which is a cult. Nations built on a cult seldom survive in the long run.

    October 25, 2011 at 5:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Sarah

      "Nations built on a cult seldom survive in the long run"? You do realize India is one of the, if not the oldest civilizations in history?

      February 28, 2012 at 8:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. krm1007

    "Experimental Democracy" has failed in India. An experiment that was being shoved down India's throat by western countries too eager to propagate their own values on a country that was trying to decolonize itself while trying to shed the communist skin of being a Soviet ally. India was thus trapped. What has become evident now is that this "Experimental Democracy" has marginalized the country. The marginalized groups of the country – Dalits and ‘backward’ castes/classes, indigenous ‘tribal’ people and religious minorities have been disenfranchised. "The belief that corruption is the important issue in the country is shared only by the minority living in urban areas and towns who have been beneficiaries of economic liberalization policies mandated by western countries. The most important challenges of Indian society remain as follows: justice, social and economic equality and equal access to certain standards of life for all Indians. “While India seems too eager to please its western masters and put on a progressive and softer face for CNN for public consumption, people see through it. The consequences of this "Band – Aid" approach will be brutal for India geo-politically when it realizes that the GDP statistics that it has been relying to gage its progress has not amounted to much in the long run. The problem with India is that is built on a system of cultural and societal values based on Hinduism which is a cult. Nations built on a cult seldom survive in the long run.

    October 25, 2011 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  10. clearmind

    @pramod (sorry if wrong spelling) I get so tired of people like you saying how greedy Americans are....you said you are here just for money? Umm that sounds greedy to me.

    October 26, 2011 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  11. ewkigo


    October 28, 2011 at 6:41 pm | Report abuse |
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