Dropping your surname, taking a new name and all the options in-between: What Indian women think of changing the last name after marriage
One of the biggest feasts in India is weddings. All our life we are prepared to get married one day. Over the years, things have changed a bit, but our obsession with marriage remains the same. When you reach a certain age, the only question you will be asked is – Shaadi kab karogi or karoge? In India, marriage is not just about two individuals but its about two families. A lot of things post marriage for both men and women. One thing which is still a topic of debate is – Changing the last name after marriage, especially for women.
Undoubtedly, marriage is a beautiful institution (opinions may differ). It brings a plethora of good things along with it. In India, marriage is a long-term commitment between two families. It is a promise to be together in every phase of life. It is a commitment of not letting go of each other irrespective of the situation. After marriage, a lot of things change, especially for women. The new chapter of her life brings responsibilities, leaving her parents’ house and moving in with in-laws, and much more. One such popular ritual is – dropping off the maiden surname (women) and adding the husband’s surname after marriage. To simply put, there are so many other important decisions that are to be made even after your big day and one of them is retaining or dropping your maiden name.
No surname change for her, husband Ranveer Singh: We have worked hard to create our identity – Deepika Padukone
Talking about the facts in India, women are not only just expected to change their surname after marriage but in some communities, as in Maharashtra, they are expected to change their first name too. As a result, once married, their identity completely changes. According to some recent reports, 60- 80 per cent of women take their husband’s last name once they get married. 20 per cent retain their maiden name and around 5 per cent chose to hyphenate. When it comes to same-sex marriage, a survey from the Knot indicates that about 61 per cent of male couples and 77 per cent of female couples decided to take one partner’s name after marriage. Now, the question is if a woman doesn’t want to change her surname? Does it make a difference to our progressive society (at least we believe that we are a part of a progressive society.) & what Indian women think of it? To find out the answers, we decided to talk to Indian women and understand what they think of this concept?
“I am not a tiny company that a big firm like Godrej has taken over and now I have to change my brand name as well” – Twinkle Khanna
Women are now more liberal and voice out their opinions more often. They take a stand when it comes to protecting their identity. A lot of women these days retain their original surname as a lot of efforts go into building their identity. Let us take a look at what women have to say?
“It is a decision of an individual and it must be requested. For example, my friend got married, and she didn’t use her husband’s surname, and I respect that, but if my time comes I may love to have my surname along with my husband’s surname. It is a personal choice. Changing the last name should not be imposed by family or spouse”, says Ramandeep Kaur, 24
“I don’t agree with this. Why should the girl change the whole identity that she has built for 25 years”, says Swati Jain, 25
The decision of changing surnames should be left on women. Adding your husband’s surname or completely dropping off your surname should be a matter of choice. Changing surname shouldn’t be seen as your commitment level in a marriage”, Neha Kapoor, 32
I didn’t want to change my surname but I didn’t have any choice. A lot of hard work goes in making a name for yourself. Losing it after marriage does affect women. And why only women are expected to do so. Why not men? Is there any sort of ownership? Isn’t an example of deep-rooted patriarchy society? The ritual is stuck in our system. Things are changing, but we need to a go a long way”, says Karishma Saxena, 34
“I always loved the idea of getting married. The moment I got married, I changed my surname. It gives me a feeling of belonging. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it. It shouldn’t be forced but flaunting your husband’s surname is not a bad idea”, says Pallavi Sharma, 28
I love my identity as much as I love him – Pooja Khurrana, a 26 -year -old woman says she loves her man with all her heart, but she equally loves her identity and will retain her maiden name after marriage.
Basically, Indian women want the decision of changing or dropping their surname should be completely left on them. Changing surname shouldn’t be a measure of their love and commitment. According to our research, a lot of them want their partners to respect their individuality.
Neither choosing to change your last name nor choosing not to change your last name is wrong
Is the new last name right for you? Well, there is no right answer to this question. It depends on an individual. Many brides having the last name as their husband helps them feel more like a family. Changing their last name is a symbol of the commitment they have made to their better half. On the other hand, a lot of women retain their maiden name because they invested a lot of time building a name for themselves. Bollywood actresses like Vidya Balan, Rani Mukherjee, Preity Zinta, Kiran Rao, Twinkle Khanna chose not to change their last name. A lot of them went on to hyphenate. Be it Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Aishwarya Bachchan, Madhuri Dixit Nene or Sonam K Ahuja, they chose to add their husband’s last name after marriage. It is entirely a matter of choice and women should not be judged based on their decision.
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