Since the Nagar Conference in Chicago, we have received many complements and inquiries about the slide program that was presented on our Nagar heritage. Talking with many friends, we have learned that everyone wants to promote Nagar culture and heritage within our younger generation. We have also seen a keen interest expressed by the younger generation in seeking Nagar family roots and knowledge about the community they are born in. Though there is extensive information available in Gujarati; only limited amount is easily available in English. We are specially looking for input and participation from our elders who are living in U.S. They know our culture, have understanding about our children’s expectations, and have interest in these kinds of worthy activities. With your help we will try to publish as much as we can about our heritage.
Please send your articles, encouragement, comments, corrections and questions to:
Kamendu Vasavada, 1051 Bombay Way, Palatine, IL 60067 or on e-mail address, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nagar Surnames (or Last Names):
According to well-known Nagar writer, Shri Shambuprasad Desai, Nagar surnames became popular during the British rule. In past, most of us were either known by our Gotra or common surname as Mehta or Pandya. Development of social structure in last couple of centuries influenced the usage of variety of surnames in our community.
It is believed that there were more than 160 Nagar surnames in existence. Presently about 80 are in use. They can be classified in following way:
Derived from Geographical (Village or City) Names:
There are eighteen surnames derived from village names. Those are Anjaria from Anjar, Avasia from Avasgadh, Chhaya from Chhaya, Dhebar from Dhebarwada, Ghoda from Ghodadra, Hathi from Hathap, Joshipura from Joshipur, Kharod from Kharod, Kukasia (now Vaishnav) from Kakasia, Mahudhia from Mahudha, Mankad or Mankar from Mankadvada, Mankodi from Mankodivada, Pattani from Patan, Rana from Ranavav, Unakar from Una, Vasavada from Vasavad and Veravala (also known as Vaishnav) from Veraval.
Major Nagar groups (Naati) also derived in such way like Vadnagara from Vadnagar, Visnagara from Visnagar, Sathodra from Sathod and Chitroda from Chitod.
Derived from Family Ancestry:
About ten surnames based on ancestry are Antani & Anantani, Bavani, Bhayani, Kikani, Maknani, Premapuri, Rindani, Savani and Vachhchharajani. Some people also include Vaishnav in this category.
Derived from Titles Awarded by Rajput and Muslim Rulers:
These rulers ruled Gujarat for about eight centuries. Nagars were on prominent positions and were awarded many titles. These twenty surnames include names like Baxi, Bhagat, Desai, Divan, Durkal, Hazrat, Janita, Jathhal, Jha, Kazi, Majmudar, Mazumdar, Medh, Munshi, Parghi, Pota, Saiyad and Swadia.
Derived from Professional Titles:
Most of Nagars are professionals. Many surnames were derived from the profession they were engaged in. These names include Acharya, Buch, Druv, Jikar, Mehta, Nanavati, Pandit, Purohit and Vaidya.
There are several surnames used in various regions in Gujarat. From Kachchh, these are Kachchhi, Maru, Oza and Jhala while from Kathiawad are Dholakia, Pancholi and Jha. Bhatt, Dave, Divetia, Dwivedi, Dixit, Joshi, Maharaja, Pathakji, Raval, Shukla, Tripathi, Trivedi, Vora and Vyas are usually from Gujarat. Please let us know if you know how these surnames are derived.