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Despicable Dowry

Dowry - the very word conjures up some real ugly images in my mind. In this day and age, when we are advancing technologically in every which way possible, I cannot fathom why this despicable practice of dowry still exists in our country.

Every day, many fathers of the bride are put through the wringer, trying to amass enough wealth to buy 'suitable' grooms for their daughters. And many men happily sell themselves for a few lakhs of cash, jewels, vehicles and even property. That may sound real harsh but that is what dowry means to me. One can justify it any which way they want, but in my eyes, if you are going to marry a woman, then it should be for who she is and the last thing you should be accepting is her father's hard earned money.

The father of the bride thus pays for the wedding and all its accompanying expenses, reception and a hefty dowry whilst the groom's family give a sambhandhi virundhu or the in-laws feast. How fair is that? Why should marrying a girl off break her father's back? Of course, the giving doesn't stop then, does it? There's the first Deepavali, karthigai, Pongal, New Year, Kaaradaiyan Nombu and the other gazillion deities' birthdays, for which the poor father has to shell out new clothes and jewels and other appropriate gifts. Once the grandchildren start coming, they add another dimension to the spending spree. No wonder some dads let out a huge groan on the arrival of a daughter, if the arrival means a monstrous, life-long bill!

How does it all work out?

The dowry generally gets decided post-horoscope matching, when the families get together to 'talk'. Most shareef families do go through the rigmarole of 'Oh no, no we don't want any dowry', 'But you must!' etc. After a few minutes of arguing along similar lines, the groom's family generally finishes with a classic, 'well we do not want any dowry but we will not stop you from doing whatever you want for your daughter.' How brilliant is that! In one stroke, the Rs 15 lakhs cash, jewellery for Rs 10 lakhs, couple of plots of land and a car are all labelled as 'gifts for the girl from her loving parents' rather than 'dowry' and the so-called bitter pill goes down easy. Masterful!

It is not just the lower income groups that get mired in this practice. Dowry is rampant in the mid-level and higher income groups than the lower ones. One of the most shocking things I found out after my own wedding was the concept of dowry for the sister-in-law. That really takes the cake. Apparently, the girl's poor father generally gives the groom's sister a chunk of money, apart from the requisite clothes for the wedding for herself and her family. WTF? Now we actually pay them to bully us? Or is it to make sure the girl doesn't have to go through the 'traditional' bullying that the SIL is paid off?

What I don’t understand is, how do these ‘manly’ men justify this to themselves? Our men, who consider most things like a wife addressing the husband by his name as a slight, how the hell do they square it to their conscience so they are more than fine with the wife bringing in so much of money, jewels and property? Correct me if I am wrong, but wouldn’t you want to buy your wife what she wants and thus show her what a man are?!

In these days of feminism and equal rights, practices such as dowry and the other hideousness of sati etc, have no place in society. A woman should be able to become someone's wife and daughter-in-law purely for who she is; she shouldn't need anything else to oil the wheels. Think about it: if the only way you can ‘get’ a ‘decent’ son-in-law is by paying hefty sums, then he’s probably not worth it!

Posted by DesiGirl 2:51 pm  


  1. Mind Curry said...
    very well written! you got a neat style!

    i think the whole concept of marriage by itself is too hyped up in our "society". the society is the monster we have created and we are a part of today. i think arranged marriages are the biggest scams happening in india today - lalu, mulayam, jayalalitha and all come only after.
    apu said...
    The whole concept of "buying" is repulsive; The problem is people don't think of it that way. They think of it as being entitled to it, cos, *gasp*, they have tht most precious of things, a son. And - I blame girls too. Why not have the guts to say that I won't get married if this is what it involves ? Atleast urban, economically independent women can. But too many women again seem to think of it as something their dads *need* to do.
    Vijay said...
    feel bad for you that you had such an experience that u write so conclusively about. in my case, actually in all the cases of marriages in my family as well as at my inlaws, there was no threat to anyone's bank balance, nor demands. Most were pragmatic division of ancestral jewels and 3 silk saris from the inlaws(the nishchaythartham one, the muhurtham one and the grihapravesam one), one from the parents(shanthi muhurtham) and one from the mama (for oonjal)!and in all cases, the sister in law (nathanaar or nanad)actually kept a fantastic spread for vilayadal (that included my sister and me when our brother got married).
    DesiGirl said...
    mind curry,
    thank you for the compliments! match fixing zindabad! ;)

    wise words - as always! u and i shall be trail blazers then!!!

    u blokesablogin?
    luckily for me, my dad is a v vocal anti-dowry, anti-establishment person. so when my FIL said ' we don't expect any dosh etc', he went 'good-o' and carried on the way he wanted. much later, i learnt from S and my MIL's dropped hints that that was the same line my SIL's FIL marofied and my FIL went on giving her 10 lakhs plus plots of land, half a dozen cows, 2 villages, 8 cars and so on. (spot the exaggeration here!)
    Anonymous said...
    Lets dwell into a different topic. Bribing is a crime and its nasty, how many people stopped giving bribes and how many stopped taking bribes? It won't stop cuz its human greed that keeps it alive. Dowry is the same. I see in my generation a lot of people don't give and don't take dowry. Its very much prevalent though. My friend's fiancee's father was offended when my friend refused to take dowry.

    The very people IAS/IPS, Judges, Politicians and even Feminists give and take dowry. Its free money, who doesn't want it?

    If you take trading, despite huge regulations by SEC so many people cheated the system to make little extra money. There are always people who want extra *free* money.

    It won't stop unless each and every individual stops it. So women tell your parents that you wouldn't want to get married in case of dowry. Guys tell your parents you are man enough to earn your living.
    Kalyan said...
    Dowry is a menace, agreed. But the problem is, most of he people concerned(Bride, Groom, FIL, MIL) dont see it that way. As you stated, its a mere GIFT (Oh! what an understatement). In several communities, the prestige of a girl's father is actually proportional to the GIFTS he can shell out. And in several others, all the biases that a girl child has to face is due to the feeling among parents that a girl is a 'Liability' rather than an 'asset'.
    Anonymous said...
    I agree with you all specially kalyan is very right in saying that in most of the societies it is a question of prestige of the girl's father. I just hate this concept of dowry but my observation is that the problem is not just the pressure from from family of groom and due to society. I have seen girls who brought heavy dowry and then feel proud about it. credit cards...

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