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. kim

    How do i adopt one of them?

    October 24, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      one of my most dearest friends is an adoptee from India and I thank God daily for her parents' decision

      October 24, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolaliberal

      You contact an adoption agency, and spend 2-3 years completing paperwork and rigorous background checks.

      October 25, 2011 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nakusa

    so sad. na na say nana sa na nakusa.

    October 24, 2011 at 9:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. CR

    At least they were able to change their names to something meaningful. Some of the people in the US should go to court and change their names. I bet someone here will like the sound of the Indian name and name their child without knowing what it means.

    October 24, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. John Kons

    You Yankis always write about one-off stories about other religions, cultures to hide sins in western cultures such as Gays, 60% divorces, Teens pregnencies, Gun culture and sleeping around with 20-30 people in their life time etc. India doesn't need to take a role model from morally bankrupt Western countries. Focus on fixing your sins rather than coming up hidden agendas just to spread Christianity.

    October 24, 2011 at 9:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • LindaLou

      I agree that our media does not provide thoughtful coverage on religion and other controversial topics. However, Christianity does not have a hidden agenda to spread it's message. It is an open agenda, one of the major tenets of their faith known as "The Great Comission".

      October 24, 2011 at 10:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • lolaliberal

      What does this article have to do with spreading the word of Christianity? It deals specifically with the troubling practice of either killing or abandoning girl babies in favor of boy babies- which is, unfortunately, widespread practice in India.

      October 25, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. pramod ranjit

    Atleast Indians are doing whats needed to be done to improve or mend what is bad in our cultures. Now I have to listen to people at my work place how messed up is my culture. These western media always find something bad about other cultures and make Americans believe how lucky they are to be americans. I like more things about India than the US .money being the only thing. I am here for money. America is also full of foul practices- raising more fat people, racism, and foremost, rule by aristrocrats (which they claim democracy). You would be surprised when you look at the percentage of voters in midterm election ( percentage of eligible voters NOT registered voters). How can you claim democracy when you don't provide oppurtunity/encouragement for people to vote? thats why you have your policians cutting money for public school (because most of their children dont go to public school) and spend on defence where people going to public school go and fight for rich people.( Not country. America dont benefit from Iraq and Afganistan War, only rich american does).
    Full of greedy people. I just hope they dont discover world's biggest oil reserve in our country. Im sure Mr. Singh will be started being called as dictator in American media, and Hinduism as terrorist religion if we dont allow access to american greedy oil companies just like Mr. Chavez( Chavez is elected more democratically than any of your last 10 presidents, mind you)

    October 24, 2011 at 9:38 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Aditya Adhikari

    This is what you get when you go off the track and forget your culture you get people imposing their culture on you. there is a Name very famous in India almost one in 10 boy is named "Rahul" or "Rohan" sound familiar..?

    The true meaning of Rahul... Hindrance and Rohan ... Escaped Evil Spirit. now what is in a Name and what is the story behind the name is what makes a name...what a person does with a name nothing. a servant to Mohan is today respected world over (Mohan Das Gandhi).

    If you feel ashamed of the name given then you have no self-respect no understanding of your origins and when you loose that you are no one.

    Taking the name of Aishwarya Rai is not going to make them as famous as Aishwarya Rai it is their action which will result in who they become and with this name change they have already lost.

    Wake-up morons name has nothing to do with who you are and what you can become.

    Action of some stupid western educated Indians have put the oldest culture in the Universe to shame once again.

    October 24, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jaymin

      I understand the gist of your point.. although the cases in point you have presented are not exactly correct – Rahul in samskritam means "able" or "efficient" [was also the name of Gautama Buddha's son]. Rohan comes from "AarohaN" which means ascending in samskritam.

      October 24, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • cosmicvox

      ..." oldest culture in the Universe " ?

      October 24, 2011 at 10:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Misha

      YOU are the moron. WAKE UP!!!

      October 24, 2011 at 10:51 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Yankee

    India should correct the imbalances but it won't happen overnight. I AGREE THIS IS AN ATTEMPT TO TURN THEM AGAINST THEIR RELIGION AND TURN THEM INTO CHRISTIANITY.

    October 24, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Peggy Reilly

    To be honest I am wondering why we are not talking about the problem of young girls being unwanted because they are not male. Isnt that the more important argument than anything mentioned above? I didn't realize that India was that way. Human dignity is not just a western concept. It should be a way of life for any culture that has a respect for human rights. No matter what you name them.

    October 24, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Pedro'

    I still think no one should be treated bad. I dont care who they are or where they are from. I doesnt hurt to be nice to each other.

    October 24, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. @@@history buff

    @Aditya Adhikari:
    Really?
    Would you stil feel the same way if your parents named you 'Stupiddick Bellysucker"?

    October 24, 2011 at 10:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Educated America

    American media and people spread these stories to project they are good rest of the world is some how inferior to them.
    In fact people in America are most ignorant about other cultures and religions. Americans live in so calle democracy but they want world to think like themselves. How many of you know INDIA provides 33% reservation to woman in JOBS, Eduction, Politics and even chairs in public transportation. INDIA gives almost 50% Reservations to lower castes and poor in every opportunity.

    On the other hand America does everything to oppress African Americans. How about giving them 25% reservation in every walk of society. DO YOU HAVE GUTS TO DO THAT?

    October 24, 2011 at 10:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • cosmicvox

      How about we have a Black President ?

      October 24, 2011 at 10:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jeff Frank ( R - OHIO ) "Яight Wing Иutcase"

      @ cosmicvox
      How about we have a Black President ? This is America...we already did that one. Unless you want one black-er, like my cat...he's blacker than the Ace of Spades... 😡

      October 25, 2011 at 12:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Jeff Frank ( R - OHIO ) "Яight Wing Иutcase"

    HEY ! The same thing happens here in the U.S.A., when the cute little girls from the Girl Scouts of America get treated with a cold shoulder with BOXES – (cookies unwaned). Cookie sales down from shopper apathy = Unhappy, unwanted little girl.

    October 25, 2011 at 12:35 am | Report abuse |
    • cosmicvox

      @Jeff Frank, my response was for "Educated America" who in effect said " How About not oppressing African American's in America ?"

      October 25, 2011 at 1:09 am | Report abuse |
    • lolaliberal

      Oh dear lord- what? Are you seriously comparing girl scout cookie sellers to children in India who have been relinquished by their parents and are literally called "unwanted". Please tell me you being ironic and I missed it somehow...

      October 25, 2011 at 2:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Educated American

    @ cosmicvox, 1:09 AM:
    The plural of "American" is "Americans."
    Just add "s."
    You formed a possessive noun.

    October 25, 2011 at 6:41 am | Report abuse |
  14. Educated American

    @ Educated America, 10:24 PM:
    If you chose that name, write in correct English.

    October 25, 2011 at 6:45 am | Report abuse |
  15. Educated American

    My point is that persons who cannot use the English language correctly invite oppression in the USA.

    October 25, 2011 at 6:52 am | Report abuse |
    • cosmicvox

      @Educated American (if that really IS your name), yes, I made a boo boo. I formed a possessive noun. Apparently three days of the flu has done it's damage. Now what's your excuse for being a jerk?

      October 25, 2011 at 5:18 pm | Report abuse |
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