Crowd of Gagarins to celebrate the cosmonaut

Keralites with the name Gagarin flash their ID cards at a get-together organised at Russian House as part of a space festival to mark the 60th anniversary of Gagarin’s space flight, in the city on Sunday.  

He was born on April 12, 1961, the day Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to journey into outer space.

It was but natural that his father, a Communist and a space enthusiast, named him Yuri Gagarin. But when Yuri was in primary school, other students gave him a hard time owing to his name.

By Class 5, he had had enough and insisted his name be changed. So, Yuri was struck off from his name, and only Gagarin remained.

Today, he is known as P.D. Gagarin, a member of the Kadakarapally grama panchayat, Cherthala.

Mr. P.D. Gagarin was among 16 persons in the State with name Gagarin who got together here on Sunday evening under the umbrella of the Russian House as part of a space festival to mark the 60th anniversary of Gagarin’s space flight.

People with name Gagarin from across places across the State such as Punalur, Cherthala, Ernakulam, and Kannur reached the Russian House and offered flowers, along with Russian nationals in the city, at the Yuri Gagarin monument outside the Russian House.

Singer Kavalam Sreekumar then sang poet Ayyappa Paniker’s Hey Gagarin.

First name

Ratheesh C. Nair, Honorary Consul of Russia and Director of the Russia House, said it was interesting that though Gagarin was a surname, many used it as first name. Among the attendees was Yuri Gagarin from Kannur, the only one with the complete name as the Russian cosmonaut.

A farmer in Kannur, Mr. Gagarin, the only one among his siblings to have a Russian name, was overjoyed at being able to meet other Gagarins at the event.

Born in 1962, a year after the space flight, Mr. Gagarin decided to attend the programme at the Russia House when he was told he would be the only one among the attendees to have the name Yuri Gagarin.

“It would have been a great loss had I not been been able to make it. I am very happy, and will never be able to forget this day,” Mr. Gagarin said.

Never had he come across a Gagarin, though he had long wanted to find out if there were more of his namesakes around.

The youngest among the attendees was Gagan Gagarin, a student, who came with his sister Geethu.

Their father Gagarin got his name after his elder sibling who was initially named Gagarin (born to a Communist father 10 years after the space flight) died when still an infant.

When he was born, his brother’s name passed on to him.

Gagarin Babu, a finance consultant from Ernakulam, said his father was one of the earliest members of the CPI who named his son, born in the year of the space flight, Gagarin.

Russian names

His two elder brothers too had Russian names, though the name of the eldest was changed later.

Mr. Ratheesh C. Nair said a number of programmes had been organised since March 27 to commemorate Yuri Gagarin such as a seminar and photo exhibition.

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Printable version | May 6, 2021 6:58:16 AM |

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