Skip to main content

Bangalore (the city) changing its name? ...now Bengaluru

Posted by robogeek on December 14, 2005 at 11:17 AM PST

I thought I was done writing about Bangalore, which I was doing with my recent trip there. I wanted to share some "color" about the Java team, and the place (Bangalore) where some of us live. At least, the Bangalore as seen with the eyes of a Westerner.

Today The Register has an article describing how Bangalore's city government has decided to rename the town to Bengaluru. I suppose this follows in the footsteps of Bombay renaming itself as Mumbai, and Madras renaming itself to be Chennai.

The origin story of Bangalore, as told by The Register, is in line with what the tourist guides said. Namely, the original name in old Karnataka was "Benda Kaal Ooru" or "boiled beans town" and derives from a King who was lost and some local person showed kindness by giving him some boiled beans to eat.

Since the locals don't speak old Karnataka any longer, the old pronunciation is just as foreign to them as it would be to me. It's going to be interesting to wrap my tongue around Bengaluru when it's so similar to the accustomed Bangalore.

I understand this as the native culture reasserting its true identity. The name "Bangalore" was an anglicization imposed upon them by the British rule. It strikes me how in India the native culture remained strongly enough entrenched that they can reassert the native identity like this.

In the U.S. the native culture was basically wiped off the face of the earth and the remnants have little power to do anything. If in todays time a country did to its native culture what the U.S. government did in the 1800's there'd be a worldwide hue and cry of genocide.