How do the Balinese Name Children?
Anyone who has been to Bali very quickly notices a tremendous number of people named Wayan, Made and Komang. Why is this? It is due to the unique naming method that the Balinese use.
How does this method work? The Balinese have a Hindu caste system similar to that of India. There are four main castes in Bali. These are Brahmana (priest), Ksatria (ruler or warrior), Wesia (merchant or officials) and Sudra (rice grower). 90% of the Balinese belong to the Sudra caste.
Balinese children are named according to which caste the family belongs and the order that they are born. Each caste has names that are unique to that caste. As a general rule, both boys and girls use the same names. To differentiate between males and females, boys use “I” before their name and girls use “Ni” before their name.
To give an idea of how this works, we will use the Sudra caste. The first born child could be named Wayan or Putu. The second child could be Made or Kadek. The third child could be called Nyoman or Komang and the fourth child will always be named Ketut. A fifth child reverts back to the same name as the first born child. There are a few gender specific names but they tend to be rare. All children will have at least one given name that will identify that person specifically. The Balinese do not use family names as we do in the West.
Two examples of the method are I Wayan Mulyaya for the first child or Ni Made Suardana for the second child. In reality, many children go by nicknames. Some of these may be a shortened version of their actual name or it could be something apparently unrelated.