The naming of a child is one of the most fundamental Hindu "samskars" or scripture based rites. The names Hindu clergy select are such that their meaning can inspire the children to follow the path of righteousness. The baby Hindu names are generally suggestive of divine qualities.
A common practice among Hindus is to choose baby Hindu names for their children after the names of sages, saints, holy persons, deities, and the names Hindu scriptures have for incarnations of God. It is believed that by repeatedly calling such names one is reminded of the Lord and is able to move closer to the ultimate goal, i.e. achieving moksha.
In Hindu religion, the birth of a child is a religious activity. The Samskaras or religious rites begin prior to birth and end with the cremation of the body upon death. The most significant samskars are: garbhadhana (conception), jatakarma (child birth), namakarana (naming a child), annaprasana (giving the child first solid food), mundan (shaving the head), upanayana (sacred thread ceremony), vivaaha (marriage), and anthyeshti (cremation). It is to be noted here, that Hindu religion has a number of castes, the higher most or the most privileged of which is the Brahmin caste. The thread ceremony is a samskara applicable only to the Brahmins.
The ceremony for names Hindu scriptures follow is fourfold. The baby Hindu names should contain all of the following:
1. According to Nakshatra (similar to zodiac, but based on the moon astral movement) under which the child was born,
2. The deity of the month,
3. The family deity, and
4. The popular name.
The Nakshatra name is the name derived from the name of the Nakshatra under which the child was born. There are 108 such sounds used for names Hindu scriptures say: four for each of the 27 nakshatras. The names Hindu priests derive form the Nakshatra is vitally connected with the life of the child. So it is kept secret less enemies may do mischief to the man through it. The child's second name is connected with the deity of the month. The third name is given according to the family deity. A family deity is a God or Goddess worshipped in a family or tribe. It believed that naming the child after the deity ensures the deity's special protection. Lastly, the fourth name is given by which the child will be usually called.
The naming ceremony would be performed on the tenth, twelfth, hundredth day or at the expiry of the first year. In the naming ceremony, the parents give the offerings to Gods, feel the breath of the child and utters his name in his ear three times: "Your name is .....". The priests and elders are asked to follow, calling the child by that name and blessing it.
The names would have a certain number of syllables according to what the child is thought to become. For one desirous of fame, the name should have two syllables, for one who would be holy, four syllables. For boys, even number of syllables were prescribed while the name of a girl should contain an uneven number of syllables, it should end in a.