According to population data from 2014, the five most common East Indian surnames are Devi, Singh, Kumar, Das and Kaur. Over one-eighth of India's 1.3 billion citizens share these five surnames.
These five names are particularly widespread because surnames in India generally refer to a person's social class or religion, rather than his or her familial background. For example, after being baptized, all Sikh men adopt the surname "Singh," which derives from the Sanskrit word for "lion." Similarly, Sikh women adopt the surname "Kaur," which is Punjabi for "princess." This naming tradition promotes equality and reduces discrimination by getting rid of surnames that would otherwise reveal a person's caste or occupation.