Kerala is a state in the southern part of India, geographically separated from the rest of the country by a mountain range known as the Western Ghats or Sahya Parvatam. This separation has also led to a notable cultural separation between Kerala and the other states of India.
The extended caste system that existed in Kerala for centuries has had a deep influence on the naming conventions of the people. The most common ways of naming a newborn in Kerala are as follows:
- [Given Name] [Father's Name]
- [Given Name] [Father's Name] [Caste Name] - This pattern is very common in high-class Hindu families, such as Nair, Menon, Shenoy, Namboothiri etc.
- [Given Name] [Caste Name] - (Same occurrence as above)
- [Given Name] [Family Name] [Father's Name]
- [Family Name] [Father's Name] [Given Name]
Some Christian families also include a second name, usually the name of the grandmother (for girls) or grandfather (for boys). The typical usage is [Given Name] [Second Name] [Father's Name].
Family Names in Kerala
As seen from the list above, the family name is not a compulsory part of a Keralite's name. This has proven to be a major problem when using Geni, as there is no option in a Geni.com profile to add such a variable. The 'index' view in the 'My Tree' section is also mostly useless due to the same reason.
A more comprehensive study is available at this Wikipedia Entry.