Navani knows the importance of a name…


Growing up with a name unique like mine was sometimes a double edged sword. When I was a child, I cringed every time I had to start a new school year, a new class with a new teacher to butcher the pronunciation. It became a routine I got accustomed to…

Teacher: “Is Nirvana Ottero here”
Me: “It’s Navani, NA-VON -NEE” no r
Teacher: “oh ok, Nirvani, got it”

I mean it seemed simple enough to enunciate, it was spelled how it sounded, at least anyone of Latin heritage got it. Then again I grew up in Poughkeepsie NY, Latin population of .5 percent. I literally was related to all the Puerto Ricans that lived there.

Besides having the responsibility of correcting the spelling and pronunciation of my name to the world, I was also lonely in being the only person with it. Whenever I would scour gift shops on field trips for a keychain with my name on it, I would have no such luck. I would go my entire childhood without any personalized paraphernalia to adorn the walls of my room. I would never identify with any characters in any of the books I would spend countless hours reading. That coupled with the fact the fact that I had no middle name to accompany the strange first one didn’t make me feel unique but rather weird instead.

Me: “Mami why did you have to name me something so weird, why couldn’t I have a normal name people can pronounce?”

Mami: “Because I didn’t want you to be like everybody else. You are special and unique just like your name”

Apparently, being born in the late seventies to a hippie-esque mom meant getting inspiration from the strangest places. She was reading a book on Hawaii when she came across the name Navani – which means heaven-sent in Hawaiian. After learning that I had a new sense of pride in my name and what it stood for. Cut to high school and then college where I would introduce myself and then happily share the meaning behind my name when people immediately asked about it. This then led to many people saying β€œwow that’s different; I’m going to name my daughter that one day”

I of course never believed them. I would smile and laugh it off, suddenly happy to not know anyone else with the same name as myself. It became who I was… the girl with the unique name, followed by the Latino surname. My name was my identity and I held on tight to it.

I recently got back in contact with a high school buddy who informed me another classmate recently had a baby. She had a baby girl, and she named her Navani. I was so touched! Touched beyond words, just like I was the other three times I had someone tell me they too named their daughter after me. Who knew a part of me could touch someone else’s life that way? It is a wonderful feeling, well worth the grade school torture lol.

Thanks to Jesus for inspiring me to recollect on the story of my name with his blog.

Oh, and thanks to my cuz Christian for getting me my first of many monogrammed items lol.

16 thoughts on “Navani knows the importance of a name…

  1. I know your pain. With the last name Ponce I have always had to correct the butchering. Ponse or Ponseee are apparently American favorites. In any case I have gotten over it now and relish the opportunity to correct my co-workers!!! lol

    Enjoy the towel with your name on it cuz.


  2. Hey Cuz

    What a cute blog! I can totally understand where you’re coming from…my name still gets butchered a regular basis. I am NOT ADRIIIAAN from “Rocky”…or ANDREA, ADARIA…and thats only my first name…forget about my last. One of my old bosses thought my last name was french…I just laugh it off..Keep the blogs coming!!


  3. Oh my Navanie… I love it. We’ve all been there. Try have people butcher your last name.. “NIN.. it’s the same forward, backwards and upside down, get it right” Remember that? Love you girl!

  4. That Was Cute… I Laughed Threw The Hole Blog… U Definitely Are A Very Unique Person Like Your Name… I Made The Same Mistake Your Teachers Made When I First Met You Too… LoL… Don’t Feel Too Bad Though, I Use To Get It When I Was Younger Too… A Half Dominican, Half Puerto Rican With A Name Like Carl Urban In One Of The Worst Hoods In The Bronx… If I Ever Had A Daughter I Wouldn’t Mind Naming Her Navani…

  5. I LOVE your name!!I do hate that I always have to repeat it to people over and over again when introducing you for the first time…lolololol.At least you don’t have a name like mine….I think every other girl born in my year was named Melissa!Lol…Luv ya!!

  6. Hey there – I came across this posting when searching the name “Navani.” It is my fiance’s grandmother’s name and I was searching for the meaning as he would like to name our first daughter Navani. Anyhoo, I found in one place that it is of Indian origin and means “youthful woman, modern.” I also love the Heaven-Sent Hawaiian meaning.

    Hopefully our child won’t endure the torture that you did….but likely she will. Oh well, it builds character!!!

  7. Hello Navani, my name is Belen, I live in Green Bay, WI and as I’m arriving to my 20th week in pregnancy I’m starting to look for baby names… actually I’ve had the names of all my six (HA!! yeah right, now anymore sister) children since I was in high school, but friends had babies and stole my ideas without knowing and now I’m left baby name-less. That was until a new reporter come onto the news cast that my husband and I watch and her name…Wendy Navani. As soon as her name showed up on the tv screen my husband and I looked at each other instantly- we both loved the name…but not Wendy, we loved NAVANI! I decided to research to see what the name means and I came across your blog entry above…Heaven-sent!!!! It’s beautiful!! I too dreaded having a name as mine and how people called me everything from BEE-LINE to BEN! And I know what it’s like to never find a keychain or pencil with your name monorgramed, but just like you, I also come to realize the importance of my name and the uniqueness…granted, I’m sure there’s plenty of Belen’s out in the Latino-world, but not here in the frozen tundra of Green Bay, WI!!! πŸ™‚ Thank you for such a wonderful entry, I can’t wait to tell my husband what Navani means.. he’ll be floored!!! God Bless!

    • Hi Belen!

      Happy New Year! Thank you so much for your heartfelt comment. I am so happy that my post could help you in your search for a baby name. I sometimes feel like my posts are just hanging out in cyber-limbo, not thinking anyone is out there actually reading. Thank you for reminding me that my words can reach people, even in Greenbay Wi! lol It gives me the motivation to keep writing. Best of luck to you and your family!
      PS I don’t have a middle name and could never think of one to go with my first name. I am curious to know what you would put as a middle name πŸ™‚

      Love and Light,

  8. Hi. I named my daughter Navani. I saw this name on t.v. A popular actress was named Navani. I like this name and named my daughter Navani. Everybody appreciate this name. I think this is a unique and meaningful name.

  9. So, I was sort of bored, and googled my name, and saw your blog. It’s amazing to have such a unique name.
    Go Navani !

      • Well if you break up the word in Hindi, it’s nav-avni which translates to a new world. It is also similar to the Sanskrit root word ‘Navin’, which means new again.
        And I learned of the Hawaiian translation from your blog.
        So that’s three of them.

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