The name Saroj means lotus. Hence, my avatar on my blog is a lotus. I’m named after my grandmother, whose name is Saroja, but was previously Sarojini. It’s a long story. We’re basically a family of S’s…except for my father, his brother, and my aunt who married into the family.
Saroj is a unisex name, oddly enough, though for the life of me I don’t know any guy who would allow themselves to be named after a flower (the feminine form is generally Saroja or Sarojini). I suppose “Kamal” is an exception, though. It, too, means lotus. Lotuses have a pretty privileged place in Hindu lore, serving as the seat of goddesses, and have worked their way into numerous devotional songs in Carnatic music, likening eyes or feet of a chosen deity to lotuses or lotus petals.
History has had a couple of Sarojs here and there. There are two that come to mind. One is Saroj Khan, the Bollywood choreographer (and currently of “Nachle Ve” fame). The other is Sarojini Naidu, the poet and freedom fighter. Even though I like to dance and write poetry, I don’t share much else in common with either of them, I think. Both are exceptionally strong-willed women. I think I have yet to reach that point, but I have time.
How many different pronunciations have I gotten for the name “Saroj?” Oh about a billion. My friends from high school can attest to this. Here’s how it’s pronounced: Sa is pronounced like the first syllable in the word “success,” roj is not pronounced “raj” using the short o sound, but rather the o is pronounced like the word “rose.” The j is a hard j, and isn’t silent. Here are a couple of notable pronunciations I’ve heard over the years.
Seroj, Saroh, Sayroj, Sahroj, Sarah, and the best one, “is this a typo?” (that last one was courtesy of my sixth grade, English teacher, some of you will know who I’m talking about).