Parsi surnames & the places they are derived from


May 11, 2016

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Ever wondered where all the Parsi surnames come from ?? Well our friend Kaevan Umrigar did and here’s his attempt at plotting it on a map !

Via Facebook, Kaevan writes

The etymology of Parsi surnames has always fascinated me. As a child I could relate a few to trades and professions (Doctor, Engineer, Driver, Lawyer) but my own surname stumped me. So I asked my grandmother what it meant. Umrigar is derived from Umra, a village near Surat, she told me. And Elavia? I inquired about my cousins’ surnames. From Elav. And Arethna? I persisted with more of my cousins’ surnames. From Areth.

Thanks to this information, I could make connections between surnames and place names I would come across on travels to Gujarat, and as I grew older, on maps. Billimorias from Billimora, Udwadias from Udvada, Satarawallas from Satara, Bharuchas from Bharuch…

As I explored the interiors of South Gujarat on my researches regarding rural Parsi communities, I came across the origins of many more surnames in the names of tiny villages and hamlets away from the Parsi centres of Udvada, Navsari and Surat. Places that are off the map and therefore off our radar.

As Google Earth and Google Maps became new fascinations for exploring near and faraway places, I discovered many more places from where our surnames originated.

Finally, I decided to bring these two fascinations – surnames and maps – together and created this possible map of where our surnames come from.…



(I say ‘possible’ because as I tried to map surnames to places, I realised there is more than one village with a similar name, and that too not too far from each other. Also, I’m no expert on etymology and the connections I have made are not researched but more like educated guesswork.)

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  1. Kaevan Umrigar

    You could also embed the map into your blog with this code: