Indians named Kovid face a new challenge in Covid times

Model and actor Kovid Mittal (above) says his Facebook and Instagram handles have 7,400 messages from people around the world asking him about his name. Image via Instagram
Model and actor Kovid Mittal (above) says his Facebook and Instagram handles have 7,400 messages from people around the world asking him about his name. Image via Instagram

Kovid means ‘wise’ in Sanskrit, but in the age of Covid, it has upended  the lives of many Indians named Kovid.

What’s in a name? Well, a great deal, if you are named Kovid during these times. The American Bazaar spoke to some of them about living with a name often confused with a deadly virus that has brought the world standstill

Bangalore, India based Kovid Mittal for one has been inundated with questions and remarks ever since the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

Mittal, a model, actor and an advertising firm owner says, “My Facebook and Instagram have 7,400 messages at the moment from strangers, people around the world  asking me about my name. While some are making fun, others are just plain curious.”

But, this is what may happen when your name happens to coincide with the most talked about virus in history.

Even though it’s not very commonly known, but Kovid is a Sankrit word that appears in the Hindu religious text Hanuman Chalisa and is a name shared by many Indians.

After the WHO announced Covid-19 as the name of the new disease on Feb. 11, 2020, the world went scrambling on Google to look for its details.

For Kovid Kapoor, another Indian based in Bangalore, the moment came as both a shock and surprise. Suddenly, his unique name meaning wise in Sanskrit, became the biggest question and fear for millions around the world.

Kapoor who runs a startup called Holidify.com, which is India’s largest travel planning website has largely taken the experience in good spirit.

Kovid Kapoor
Kovid Kapoor; image via Instagram

Recalling the unbelievable journey the past couple of years have brought along, Kovid Kapoor says, “I won’t call my experiences hardships as I see it as positive funny incidents. For instance, when I am ordering a cup of coffee at Starbucks, or getting a restaurant reservation, things get a bit awkward.”

Interestingly some Kovids bamboozled by the sudden interest in their name, have gone ahead and created a Kovid Support Group on Instagram. A bunch of Kovids bond with each other as they share some funny jokes and incidents from last two years.

Kapoor recalls, “Another Kovid in the group, who is student shared that when he was trying to join a Zoom call, the teacher repeatedly kept rejecting his request to join the meeting, assuming that someone must be playing a prank.”

Some others named Kovid are also surprised that most Indians are unaware of the name.

Kovid Mittal says, “It surprises me that 90 percent of Indians don’t know about it. It’s fascinating as well as amusing that it’s been almost 3 years but my name is the most viral name in the world.”

“I wish a vaccine or medication in the future can be named Kovid, as it means wisdom in Sanskrit,” he says.

Mittal was recently approached by famous WWE celebrity Matrick Belton, who “texted asking if I renamed myself deliberately to get publicity. I explained to him the history of my name.”
Along with the curiosity around the name, also came advice. Mittal says, “One of my film colleagues advised me to change my name. I brushed him off.”
“Though I must admit, in the beginning I was scared that people would not cast me in projects in future thinking if this might bring negative visibility to the project.”

“But with time, one gets used to it and accepts it,” says Mittal. “The truth is that my name existed centuries ago even when Covid wasn’t born.”

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