Astrology traditionally plays an important role here. The day and time of birth are used by an astrologer to determine the best initials for the child. Sinhalese also believe that certain arrangements of syllables (known as “gana”) bring good luck to the child. These are factored into the final choice of name. The name is announced at a Nam Tebima ceremony. Babies are often named after historical figures, characters from Buddhist stories and positive values or virtues. Since recently, names of foreign origin and celebrity names are also used.
Many Christians in Sri Lanka do not follow astrology and select a baby name of choice. The names of Saints and important characters from the Holy Bible are popular preferences. Parents usually formally announce the name at the baby’s baptism.
Muslim parents usually name their babies within seven days from birth. Parents may take suggestions from grandparents, other relatives or from the imam (priest). Arabic names from the Holy Quran are favored.
Hindus normally organize a Namkaran or name ceremony around 12-40 days after the baby’s birth. Astrology is followed again to determine the baby’s lucky initials. Names from sacred Hindu texts are popular choices.
Whether you follow astrology or not, here are some things to consider when selecting baby names for boys and girls:
- Meaning – People will invariably ask your child what his or her name means. Select a name with a positive significance that your child can be proud of.
- Initials – Look at how your child’s initials will look on paper. Some initials (such as M.A.D for example) could lead to life-long teasing.
- Length – Long names are invariably shortened to nicknames. They are also often misspelt and mispronounced.
- Uniqueness – Selecting a relatively uncommon name will make it easy to identify your child by first name.
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