Dowry in India is illegal. Yet, it seems to be everywhere. Can we, the supposedly ‘modern’ lot, ever hope to eradicate this evil?
Since childhood we have learned that dowry is a social evil plaguing our society. News reports of dowry deaths and suicides are common. I chose to believe that this issue was limited to the backward, illiterate and old fashioned section of society and that ‘modern India’ had moved ahead of these problems.
I was in for a rude surprise when I encountered this issue at the time of my own marriage. Going via the traditional route of arranged marriage, my family and I received a few proposals that came with a set price tag. The more ‘well settled’ the boy would be, the higher would be the cost. The demands used to range from a flat in Mumbai to a car (brand specified), white goods and of course gold.
I was unable to comprehend that educated, cultured families living in one of the metros of the country would actually practise a social evil like this. What was more surprising was that the boys of such families who were of my generation, and supposedly modern in their outlook would meekly follow their parents’ diktat in this respect as going against them would be ‘disrespectful’. I am guessing asking for dowry was not.
I was lucky to fall in love with a decent man who shared my views regarding this practice. However I was one of the few lucky ones. I saw a lot of my acquaintances give in to the ridiculous demands of the groom’s families their girls were marrying into, as they did not want to lose out on a good match. Though any boy and his family who follow a practice like dowry cannot be described as a ‘good proposal’.
Predictably a lot of these marriages could not survive. Any marriage whether arranged or love is delicate in the beginning. It required a lot of nurturing and compromises on both ends to make the relationship strong. When an unnecessary demand of dowry is pushed in this balance, it ends up creating a lot of resentment on the girl’s end. The relationship hence ends up having a rocky start.
A lot of times the demands from the boy’s family do not end with marriage. Every festival, or occasion is an opportunity to ask for more. Even this bending to their will may not be enough. There are still cases of dowry deaths across cities and social strata. I recently heard about a case in Delhi where a girl was poisoned and killed as her family was unable to meet the demands of her in-laws.
It is heart rendering to hear such reports. Parents bring up their daughters with a lot of love and care. They hope the very best for their daughters whether its education, opportunities or marriage. But they have to understand that if the marriage is coming their way with an associated cost then they must step back. Their daughter will never be appreciated for who she is in such a union.
The end of this horrific tradition can only be by us boycotting it completely. Do not follow it and do not entertain anyone who does follow it.
Let us truly become modern, in our thoughts, our outlook and our practices.
Pic of Indian bridegroom via Shutterstock