Naming matters is a series of explorations that looks at the stories and meanings behind popular Indian names and surnames. Every episode will dig into a fresh batch and give us something to chew on. In this installment, we kick things off with popular Indian surnames that begin with the letter D.
Dalvi is a Maratha clan found largely in Maharashtra, India. The Dalvi Marathas claim descent from the Paramara dynasty, a ruling clan of Rajputs hailing from Madhya Pradesh. The Dalvis being Lodra Rajput established the principality of Lodorva in Rajasthan but Bhati Deoraj, a Bhati Rajput ruler captured their region and subsequently in 1025 AD. Lodorva was invaded and destroyed by Muslims. The Lodras then migrated to the Deccan and disguised their identity. They adopted the name of Dalvi in the 12th century.
Das is a common surname in India, among adherents of Hinduism and Sikkism. It is a derived from the Sanskrit word Dasa, meaning ‘servant of God’, ‘devotee’, or votary’. ‘Das’ may be inferred to be one who has surrendered to God. In the Punjab region of India and Pakistan, they generally belong to the Brahmin caste. In Bihar and Bengal, they belong primarily to the Maulika Kayastha caste. The surname Das is also used by the Mahishya community of Bengal. In Odisha, they belong to the Karana or Khandayat caste.
Dasgupta is a common Bengali last name or surname in West Bengal, India. The surname is found among the members of the Baidya caste. Baidya is a Bengali Hindu caste community who have generally claimed Brahmin status, but some have been associated with the Ambashtha caste or sub-caste. In the pre-colonial era of Bengal, Baidyas were regarded as the highest Hindu castes along with Brahmins and Kayasthas.
Dave is an Indian name from the state of Gujarat. It is pronounced as da-way: It is a Hindu (Brahman) name and originates from Sanskrit dvivedi ‘(one who has studied) two Vedas’.
Dayal is an Indian name found in the northern states. It is a Hindu (Kayasth) name and comes from the Sanskrit word ‘dayalu’, meaning ‘kind’ and ‘compassionate’.
Deol is a clan of the Jatt people found in the Punjab Region India and Pakistan. Deol is the alternate name of the place ‘Diraval’ after which the gotra Deol gets the name. In Hindu society, the term gotra means clan. It broadly refers to people who are descendants in an unbroken male line from a common male ancestor or patriline.
Deora (occasionally Devda, Devra, Devre) is the name of a branch of the Songara Chauhan clan of Rajputs in India. The Deora or Devda, according to their ancestral texts, are descendants of Rao Lakhan of Nadol in the Marwar area of Rajasthan. It is written in the texts that the queen of Rao Lakhan was beautiful, kind and generous like a Devi, or goddess, so her sons were called Devi-ra, meaning goddesses or Devi’s sons. This Devi-ra later became Deora, Devra and Devda.
Desai is an Indian (Gujarat and Maharashtra) name and means ‘landlord’. It comes from the Sanskrit deša ‘country’ + svami ‘lord’, ‘master’. It is an administrative, princely or honorary title and surname. Just Desai is also an honorary title conferred to Reddy caste of Telangana by the Nizam of Hyderabad for holding large amounts of land.
Deshmukh is a title and surname native to the India. In Marathi and Telegu, Desh means land, country and mukh means head or chief; thus deshmukh means “the head” of a district. Deshmukh was a historical title given to a person who was granted a territory of land. The granted territory was usually referred to as the Dēśamukhi. The title of Deshmukh provided the titled family with revenues from the area and the responsibility to keep the order. For this reason, Deshmukh is loosely translated as ‘patriot’ and the name still commands respect today. The Deshmukh system was abolished in India in 1947, when the government confiscated most of the land of the Deshmukhs. Some families however maintain their status as real estate barons, most notably in Mumbai, with hold over properties that were not taken away.
Deshpande is a Brahmin surname found native to the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is also found amongst Chandraseniya Kayastha Prabhu caste in Maharashtra. Deshpande derives from the Marathi title dešpande, which means “tax collector” from the historic caste system.
Devadiga are a Tulu speaking Hindu community from the region of Tulu Nadu in the south west of India, which comprises the districts of Udupi and Dakshina Kannada in the Indian state of Karnataka. The name “Devadiga” is derived from archaic Kannada term “Deva Adiga”. Devadigas are also called by the names Sherigar, Moily, Shriyan, Bhandary(in north Canara), Rao and many more with respect to the area they live and language they speak. Tulu is the main language spoken by Devadigas. In some places of Karnataka, Devadigas also speak Kannada and identify themselves as Kannada Devadigas. Devadigas tend to live in temple surroundings.
Dhar, also spelled Dar mostly in Pakistan, is a Kashmiri surname of Brahmin origin. It is found among individuals native to the Kashmir Valley of India and the Punjab (in Pakistan and India). The caste name is shared among both Hindus and Muslims. The Dhar kram originates from the honorific given to a village head, strongman or a warlord of a jagir.
Indian (Panjab): Hindu (Khatri) name based on the name of a clan in the Khatri community. It is popularly believed to mean ‘runner’, ‘messenger’, from Sanskrit dhav- ‘to run’.
Dhoni or Doni is a multi-purpose sailboat with a motor or lateen sails that is used in the Maldives. A dhoni resembles a dhow, a traditional Arab sailing vessel. The traditional dhoni is one of the oldest known sea vessels in the Maldives. The Tamil, Kannada, and Konkani word for a small boat is doni and the Malayalee word for a small boat is Thoni, perhaps in keeping with the trade links between Arabs and the konkani people in Goa and other port cities in Konkan and Coastal India.
The word is an adjective form of the Sanskrit word diksha, meaning provider of knowledge. Dikshit in Sanskrit derives itself as a person involved in scientific studies, and literally translates as “one who has received initiation or one who is initiated”. The surname is usually associated with high class Hindu Brahmins in India, especially in North India. Dixit, (also spelled as Dikshit or Dikshitar), is a Hindu family name. Historically, Dikshits have been usually associated with professions related to knowledge, teachers and scholars.
Doshi is a fairly common surname in India. A doshi was somebody who carried a dosh, or a sack of grocery/clothes, to sell as he wandered. This is similar to another translation of doshi as a rough cloth seller. Most Gujaratis believe this is the true story behind the last name “Doshi”
Dubey is a Hindu surname. Dubey belong to the Brahmin caste and the Pancha Gauda classification of Brahmins (i.e. north India Brahmins). Dubey can belong to any of the six gauds: Bharadwaj, Saraswat, Kanyakubja, Maithil, Gauda, and Utkala Brahmins.
Dutta, also spelled Datta, Dutt and Datt, is an Indian family name and surname that is found primarily among Bengali and Punjabi-Hindus, also present among Assamese, and Haryanvi Hindus. Datta means “given” or “granted” in Sanskrit. It is also an alternative name for the Hindu deity Dattatreya.
The Darzi or Darji (Hindi) are a Hindu community, found in North India and Pakistan. Darzi means tailor in Urdu. A small number are also found in the Terai region of Nepal. They are also known as Idrisi or Idrisi Shaikh. The Buddhist Dorji tribe of Tibet and North-East India are also called Darji (found in the name of Darjeeling).