How popular is the baby name Aishwarya in the United States right now? How popular was it historically? Find out using the graph below! Plus, check out all the blog posts that mention the name Aishwarya.

The graph will take a few seconds to load, thanks for your patience. (Don't worry, it shouldn't take nine months.) If it's taking too long, try reloading the page.

Popularity of the Baby Name Aishwarya

Posts that Mention the Name Aishwarya

Name Quotes #106: Amitabh, Chapel, Kit

quotation marks

Ready for another batch of name quotes? Here we go!

From a 2012 interview with Game of Thrones actor Kit Harington, who didn’t learn that his real name was Christopher until he was 11:

It was very strange, I went to school, and I remember that you had to do these tests to find out what set you’re in — how clever you are. I put down “Kit Harington,” and they looked at me like I was completely stupid, and they said, “No, you’re Christopher Harington, I’m afraid.” It was only then I learnt my actual name. That was kind of a bizarre existential crisis for an 11-year-old to have, but in the end I always stuck with Kit, because I felt that’s who I was. I’m not really a “Chris.”

From the article “What your name says about your age” (2016) in The Hindu:

Movie stars seem to have an impact on naming conventions too. The median [age of women named] Raveena, Karishma, Twinkle and Kajol are between 20 and 23 today, which, given the two movie stars’ debuts in the early 90s, makes sense. The median Aishwarya is 21, which is roughly how many years ago Ms. Rai Bachchan won the Miss World title.

Among men, there has been a sharp rise in the popularity of Shahrukh and Sachin, both peaks coinciding with their debuts on film screens and the cricket field respectively. Amitabh is declining in popularity after hitting a peak among those who were born in the mid 70s.

From the RTÉ article “What Irish children’s names reveal about us” (2022) by Dr. Dylan Connor :

In a recent study, we turned name analytics toward one of Ireland’s big historical questions: why were the Irish so reluctant to follow couples elsewhere in reducing the size of their families?


We found something surprising. Many of our prior expectations were confirmed: professionals had fewer children than laborers, families were smaller in cities, and Catholics had more children than Protestants. The single strongest indicator that a couple had a large family, however, was whether or not they picked traditional and common names for their children. When parents chose names like Patrick, Mary and John, they typically had more children. Parents with fewer children relied more on uncommon names like Eric, Sam, Hazel and Irene. Irrespective of religion, naming was linked to family size and the pattern even held for the Irish in America.

Irish couples were particularly likely to buck trends as they were exposed to cities. Urban couples were not only the first to sharply curtail childbearing, but were also more likely to experiment with new and unusual names. This was a sharp departure from large rural Irish families, where successive generations were named after parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins.

Actor Josh Brolin’s explanation of his daughter’s name, Chapel Grace (b. 2020):

Everywhere we have traveled the one place Kathryn and I always found a great solace in were chapels. Not being particularly religious, but a God feeling heavily inundating our lives, chapels have always been the sanctuaries where we felt most connectedly free to give thanks. Chapel Grace is, to us, a manifestation of that celestial feeling that was always felt as we meandered and knelt.

Finally, two unrelated quotes from a 2008 Mental Floss article about undesirable names. Here’s the first:

In June 2001, a total solar eclipse was about to cross southern Africa. To prepare, the Zimbabwean and Zambian media began a massive astronomy education campaign focused on warning people not to stare at the Sun. Apparently, the campaign worked. The locals took a real liking to the vocabulary, and today, the birth registries are filled with names like Eclipse Glasses Banda, Totality Zhou, and Annular Mchombo.

And here’s the second:

When Napoleon seized the Netherlands in 1810, he demanded that all Dutchmen take last names, just as the French had done decades prior. Problem was, the Dutch had lived full and happy lives with single names, so they took absurd surnames in a show of spirited defiance. These included Naaktgeboren (born naked), Spring int Veld (jump in the field), and Piest (pisses). Sadly for their descendants, Napoleon’s last-name trend stuck, and all of these remain perfectly normal Dutch names today.

What influenced the baby name Sanjana in India in the 1990s?

The character Sanjana/Sanju (played by Aishwarya Rai) from a Lehar Pepsi commercial that aired in India in 1993.
“Hi, I’m Sanjana. Got another Pepsi?”

In her fascinating essay “The Namesakes,” author Sanjana Ramachandran tells the story of how a soft drink commercial that aired In India in 1993 popularized the baby name Sanjana.

Before we get to that story, though, a bit of background:

India, upon attaining independence in 1947, established a state-controlled economy that was essentially closed to the outside world. Under this system, the Indian consumer had very little choice in the marketplace and had to endure long wait-times for goods like cars, scooters, and wristwatches.

Even television — which introduced in the late 1950s, but didn’t go national until the early 1980s — was controlled by the state; government-owned Doordarshan was India’s sole broadcaster for over three decades.

All this changed in mid-1991, when India was forced (due to an economic crisis) to initiate a series of reforms. With economic liberalization came choice for the consumer, who could now start buying imported goods at the store and enjoying new content on television.

In the early days of India’s newly invigorated economy, American company PepsiCo — using the Indianized name “Lehar Pepsi” (lehar means “wave” in Hindi) — launched a marketing campaign in India that featured the Hindi-English slogan “Yeh Hi Hai Right Choice Baby, A-Ha.” (It was a spin-off of the “You Got The Right One Baby, Uh-Huh” campaign in the U.S.)

One of the commercials in that campaign was a 50-second spot that aired in 1993. It starred Bollywood actor Aamir Khan and two then-unknown female actresses, Mahima Chaudhry and Aishwarya Rai (pronounced ash-WUH-ree-ah RIE, roughly).

Here’s the commercial:

Here’s a description of the commercial, in case you don’t want to watch:

A young man is alone in his apartment, absentmindedly singing to himself, when the doorbell rings. He opens the door to find a pretty young woman, who enters and says, “Hi, I’m your new neighbor. Can I have a Lehar Pepsi?” He responds, “Uh, yeah, sure.” As he heads to the kitchen, he shows his excitement with a jump and a quiet “Yes!” She is idly looking around his apartment when he reaches the fridge…only to discover an empty bottle of Lehar Pepsi. He calls out (in Hindi) to ask if something else would suffice. She responds (in Hindi) that no, only a Lehar Pepsi will do. He already has one leg out the kitchen window as he calls back, “No problem.” He goes out onto the fire escape — the window slams shut behind him — and jumps down to the street. It’s raining outside. He spots a store selling Pepsi across the street. He tries to cross, but nearly gets hit by a car, so instead he jumps roof-to-roof over the traffic to reach the store just before it closes (diving beneath the security shutter as it comes down). He has a bottle of Pepsi in his hand as he runs up the fire escape steps. He finds the window locked. Just as the woman starts walking toward the kitchen (calling, “You okay in there?”) there’s the sound of glass shattering. The man comes out of the kitchen — soaking wet, out of breath — and hands her the bottle, saying, “Your Lehar Pepsi.” Then there’s a knock at the door. The woman says, “That must be Sanju.” “Sanju?” the man repeats, with a worried look on his face. A second woman suddenly comes into view behind them. She leans seductively against the wall and says, “Hi, I’m Sanjana. Got another Pepsi?”

The man’s moment of distress toward the end stems from the fact that “Sanju” is a gender-neutral diminutive. He assumes that Sanju must be male — probably the woman’s boyfriend — but is pleasantly surprised to see that this is not the case.

The Lehar Pepsi commercial was edgy and young, and TV audiences loved it:

The immediate reaction to the commercial was so overwhelming that the makers had to disconnect their phone lines. “Everyone aged 12 and above was calling to ask, ‘Who is this Sanju?’” [director of the commercial Prahlad] Kakar recalled.

Among the admirers were a number of expectant parents. According to voter rolls from the 2015 Delhi assembly elections, “more than twice as many Sanjanas [were] born in 1993 [than] in the preceding three years.” In fact, data indicates that the names Sanjana and Aishwarya both saw an increase in usage thanks to the commercial. Sanjana Ramachandran says that this “points to an interchangeability in markers of aspiration between character and actor. It was the aura — the ‘vibe’ — that parents were going for.”

Ramachandran spoke to nearly 50 other Sanjanas via the internet, and discovered that many of these Sanjanas were born years after the commercial had stopped airing:

Sanjana Parag Desai’s mother had known what she was going to call her daughter for eight years. Sanjana Harikumar’s mother had known for nine. […] Arun Thomas, who named his daughter Sanjana in 2009, vividly recalls the first time he heard the name.

Oddly, the name saw higher usage in the U.S. as well in 1993:

Sanjana usageAishwarya usage
199633 baby girls15 baby girls
199525 baby girls8 baby girls [debut]
199413 baby girls.
199316 baby girls.
19928 baby girls.
19915 baby girls.

Perhaps the commercial influenced U.S. baby names via Indian-Americans who were traveling back and forth between the two countries that year…?

If the commercial was indeed the influence, then it didn’t have the same effect on the name Aishwarya, which wouldn’t debut in the U.S. baby name data until 1995 — after Aishwarya Rai won the Miss World pageant in late 1994.

What are your thoughts on the name Sanjana? Do you know any Sanjanas named after the Pepsi commercial?

P.S. If the Lehar Pepsi commercial seemed eerily familiar to you — as it did to me at first — stay tuned for tomorrow’s post!


Top girl name debuts of 2012

Katniss and Daenerys have arrived, you guys! Time to start the party.

The debut name party, that is.

Here are the girl names that debuted the highest on the SSA’s 2012 baby name list:

  1. Kimbella, 52 baby girls
  2. Catalaya, 51
  3. Cattaleya, 45
  4. Daleyza, 41
  5. Aaradhya, 38
  6. Catalia, 34
  7. Katalaya, 32
  8. Katalia, 26
  9. Kattleya, 26
  10. Aayat, 23
  11. Karliah, 23
  12. Daenerys, 21
  13. Catalea, 20
  14. Iviona, 19
  15. Itzae, 18
  16. Kataleah, 17
  17. Kattaleya, 17
  18. Katalea, 16
  19. Nirvi, 15
  20. Brely, 14
  21. Merliah, 14
  22. Aamilah, 13
  23. Anabrenda, 13
  24. Carliana, 13
  25. Kinsler, 13
  26. Lynnley, 13
  27. Abishai, 12
  28. Adylee, 12
  29. Ahri, 12
  30. Brenlynn, 12
  31. Drayah, 12
  32. Jeiza, 12
  33. Katalayah, 12
  34. Kathaleya, 12
  35. Katniss, 12
  36. Sebella, 12
  37. Analeyah, 11
  38. Aubreelynn, 11
  39. Cataleyah, 11
  40. Cateleya, 11
  41. Ireoluwa, 11
  42. Jonier, 11
  43. Nahyla, 11
  44. Noomi, 11
  45. Payzlie, 11
  46. Renesmae, 11
  47. Yandy, 11

And a selection from the 10-babies-and-under group: Scarlettrose, Eevee, Venba, Eponine, Swayzi, Anemone, Aoibheann, Hunnie, Kambreigh, Mlak, Paislyn, Paislynn, Paizly, Parizoda, Adn, Alanoud, Annabellelee, Ayoola, Bellaluna, Callalily, Cataliyah, Catilaya, Catileya, Cymphonique, Eilonwy, Ellyot, Fiore, Goodness, Hannabella, Heartlynn, Inchara, Kymbella, Myjoy, Nymeria, Pfeiffer, Renezmae, Sorella, Timberlynn.

Where do the names above come from?

Here are some likely explanations:

  • Aaradhya – from the daughter of Indian actress Aishwarya Rai. The baby was born in late 2011, but not named until early 2012.
  • Catalaya, Cattaleya, Catalia, Katalaya, Katalia, etc. – variants of Cataleya, which debuted last year. (And which now happens to be skyrocketing in popularity.) Cataleya was a character in the movie Columbiana (2011).
  • Daenerys – from “Game of Thrones” character Daenerys Targaryen. (Last year’s fifth-highest debut was her title, Khaleesi.)
  • Eponine – from Les Miserables character Eponine Thenardier.
  • Karliah – from a character in the video game Skyrim. (Another Skyrim name we’ve seen used as a baby name is Dovahkiin.)
  • Katniss – from Hunger Games character Katniss Everdeen.
  • Kimbella, Kymbella – from reality show “Love & Hip Hop” cast member Kimberly “Kimbella” Vanderhee.
  • Merliah – from Barbie in A Mermaid Tale 2 (2012) character Merliah Summers.
  • Noomi – from Swedish actress Noomi Rapace, who was in the 2011 movies The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows.
  • Pfeiffer – from Michelle Pfeiffer…?
  • Renesmae, Renezmae – variants of Renesmee, which debuted in 2009. Renesmee is a character in the Twilight series.
  • Sebella – from the daughter of Puerto Rican actress Roselyn Sanchez. The baby was born in early 2012.
  • Yandy – from reality show “Love & Hip Hop” cast member Yandy Smith.

Can you come up with explanations for any of the others?

P.S. Here’s last year’s debut list.

285 Indian Girls No Longer “Unwanted”

In India, gender discrimination is a big problem. So big that female feticide (the abortion of female fetuses) “is killing upwards of one million females in India annually.” And many of the girls who are born end up with names like Nakusa, Nakoshi, and Nakushi, all which mean “unwanted” in Hindi.

Federal and state governments in India have been battling the discrimination with various incentives (e.g. giving money to the families of girls who graduate from high school). As part of this effort, the Satara District in Maharashtra recently held a renaming ceremony. On October 22, nearly 300 “unwanted” girls got the chance to choose new legal names for themselves.

They chose names such as:

  • Aishwarya – for the Bollywood star
  • Ashmita – Hindi for “very tough, rock hard”
  • Savitri – for the Hindu goddesses
  • Vaishali – Hindi for “prosperous, beautiful, good”

I love this idea of a group name-change. It’s such a simple thing to do, and yet think of the impact it will have. Each of those girls gets a fresh start now.

Hope this catches on in other areas of India…


More Baby Names in India: Aishwarya, Neel, Oormi, Srayan

After posting about baby names in India a few days ago, I decided to track down more information on Indian names. And one thing I found was “Game of The Name” by Chandreyee Chatterjee and Nabamita Mitra, and published in Calcutta’s Telegraph newspaper about a year ago.

The authors say that baby naming in India is “a matter of much thinking, strategy and aesthetics.” They also note that parents seem to be split into two camps when it comes to choosing names:

One set of parents would like short, sweet, easy, “universal-Indian” names. […] The other set of parents would look for imaginative, unique, traditional or traditional-sounding Indian names in keeping with a new trendiness.

The first set of parents would go for names like Abhishek, Neha, Oormi and Rahul, while the second set would gravitate toward names like Katyayani, Mrinalini, Priyamvada, Saimantika, Sarbajaya (which are easy to shorten into nicknames like Kati, Pri and Sam).

Other names mentioned in the article include…

  • Male names: Aditya, Amartya, Amitkanti, Arun, Aryaman, Ashok, Bihan (“dawn”), Biman, Kalarab (“cacophony”), Laksh, Neel, Rakamouli, Rith (“truth”; “sun”), Snehil (“affectionate”), Sourav, Srayan, Subrata, Tanish
  • Female names: Aishwarya, Bhalobasha (“love”), Debjani, Kirtika, Poushali, Pranaadhika, Renisa (based on musical notes), Sanasthita, Sannanti, Shaapla (a flower), Shikha, Sukanya, Vandita

(I had to guess a gender for some of the above.)

Finally, here are some examples of “extraordinary” Indian names: Atasikaya, Bitapichhaya, Neelakasheektitara, Shyamalimaya, Shyamsohagini and Pincle (whose grandfather named him in honor of English cricketer Derek Pringle).