The social significance of an individual’s name: The Oram community – Jharkhand

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Name of the Individual

[…] The selection of individual’s name bears relevant social significance in the Oram community. Generally the main purpose of name selection for an individual is to point out the particular person who is being granted specific social position in the contemporary society.

Oram vs Gotra (clan): crises in the use of surname

The old and authentic documents as Patta (the documents on the possession of individual land-holding) reveals that the ethnic group has been using ‘Oram’ as surname since the period of British rule. This earlier system of using Oram as surname has been reduced to the use of individual’s clan name as Tirkey, Lakra and so on. The main purpose of using the individual clan names is for facilitating the identity of particular persons. […]

Most of the time more than one persons of the community are known by the same name along with same surname. This happens so due to two reasons: the same surname as Oram is used by everybody as a part of the tradition and the name of the individual is often selected depending on the name of any weekday specially on which he/she has taken birth. So more than one person will be usually named on same weekday because of their birthday is fallen on the same day. Therefore, it becomes very difficult for an official messenger to give any official notice to the actual person in a village. The teacher in the school and higher boss in the office are also severely confused-to-point out the particular person. Keeping these problems in mind, the ethnic surname Oram is being replaced today by the individual’s clan names.

A debate has been continued on the issue of transformation in the use of traditional surname to the new one. Basically three types of opinions are noticed : moderate, orthodox and mixed. The persons having the moderate outlook state that the use of clan as surname will help in refraining the youths from falling in love with mates of the same clan which is socially prohibited. They further explain that the very free mixing between boys and girls in the educational institutions and market places during industrialization may tempt them to fall in love with each other prior to considering the clan restrictions, So if the clan will be openly manifested in the form of surname, both the boy and girl will be alert about the clan restrictions when they start making love each other. Besides, at the use of clan as surname a person of one clan will pertinently recognize other members of the same clan. This will bring all the persons of the same clan into close of each other. As a result, one may get help/cooperation from his clan-mates at any danger.

The above view points of the moderates are severely opposed by the people with orthodox mentality. The use of the clan as surname, according to them, will adversely affect their original tradition. They argue that instead of bringing a check in the love marriage, it will rather help to aggravate this temperament among them. After the open manifestation of clan as surname, the school or college going boys and girls will never find any hindrance to fall in love with each other when one will easily come to know another’s clan position. As a result, instead of devoting their time and energy in study they will spend hours in the sphere of love. The greatest disadvantage of the use of clan as surname is the appearance of social fragmentation or social disunity. They suggest that the use of Oram as surname will bring all the entire individuals of the community into a common framework. In the community’s Annual Conference held at Sitapur of Daya Nagar, Sarguja district of Madhya Pradesh in 1973, the orthodox Orams, therefore, brought a resolution for compulsory use of Oram as surname.

A section of the Oram realized that it was necessary to bring a compromise between the above mentioned paradoxical interpretations. According to them no one of the interpretations strikes a strong base of clan in the traditional socio-cultural system and social-solidarity. If the people are forced to write Oram as surname for say, it is possible that they may’forget” the name of the respective individual’s clan position in later days. Consequently the strong base of clan in the community will be jeopardized and the boys and girls will bother very little about the clan restrictions during the marriage. On the other hand, if merely the clan name is insisted and, at the same time, the community’s name Oram is ignored, it will result in the frequent inter-Jati marriage. Because, similar clan names are often used among some communities other than the Qram. The clan like ‘Kerketta’, for instance, prevails among the Oram, Kharia and Kishan. In order to avoid such controversy, they would like to rely on the use of Oram” and respective individual’s clan name together. One should write clan name as surname in open space lying after the writing of individual’s first name (name given during the Namdhari occasion), and the community’s name Oram should be mentioned hereafter within bracket : as ‘Sagar Tirkey (Oram). Here ‘Sagar’ is the individual’s first or Namdhari name, ‘Tirkey’ is his clan name and the word Oram within the bracket is the name of the community. […]

Read or download the full PhD thesis here:

Date visited: 4 April 2019

Title: A tribe in an industrial milieu the Orams in Rourkela and adjoining villages
Researcher: Rath, Govinda Chandra
Guide(s): Sinha, Surajit C
University: University of Calcutta
Completed Date: 1990
Abstract: Abstract not available
Pagination: viii, 310p.
Appears in Departments: Department of Sociology

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