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Wedding expenses which are not shared by the bridegroom’s side can also be looked at as a kind of hidden dowry, can’t they? A short story.
2017 had just begun. One lazy afternoon, during its first week, Naina was at her desktop reading her daily dose of news on her laptop.
One particular news article caught Naina’s attention… “Govt asks states to block matrimonial sites encouraging dowry — The Union government has informed the Bombay High Court that it has issued guidelines to all the states to block matrimonial websites encouraging dowry.”
Naina leaned back in her desk chair and looked outside the window aimlessly into the open space. Her mind flashed back to the time when she was just out of college and her family members, like most elders in our Indian society were desperately looking for a groom for her.
Naina belonged to a normal middle class family. She was open to the idea of arranged marriage but had stated one thing very clearly to her parents, “Look for whoever you want, but No Dowry! I shall run away from the mandap if that happens!” Her parents gave her a look, but later agreed to her.
Naina got a lot of proposals as she was young, smart, and just out of Architecture college. Her parents cautiously avoided families that had intentions of dowry. The search had been going on for almost a year. One fine day a relative had come up with a probable proposal of a doctor for Naina. After a bit of hesitation she had agreed to meet the guy.
The meeting was a very pleasant one. Naina had even liked the guy. After 2 days the guy’s family responded saying that they liked the girl, but they would also like a dowry of Rs.10 Lakhs so that the boy could set up a clinic of his own after marriage.
Naina had been furious! Her parents made her understand that their relative was unaware of her condition, and eventually calmed her down.
Few months later, Naina finally met her groom to be. The guy belonged to a good family. Both families were very happy with their respective alliances and hence went ahead with the wedding arrangements. Naina belonged to a community which traditionally believes that the girl’s parents take care of all the wedding expenses. Though nowadays not everyone follows that religiously, at the time that Naina was getting married, it was followed.
During the course of the preparation, Naina realized that her parents were the only people making all the arrangements. The guy’s family had no contribution whatsoever in any of the wedding expenses. They had just decided the wedding and reception venues, and the rest had to be taken care by Naina’s parents.
Naina was really surprised when she came to know about it. But she never really had the courage to question her parents about the expenditure. She thought that if it was beyond their capacity, her father would tell her. There was a large crowd for the marriage, many relatives from the grooms’s and also from the bride’s side, some of whom Naina had never seen before in her life.
Many weeks after the marriage, when Naina had gone home to visit her parents, she happened to see a mail from the bank for her father lying on the dining table with rest of the mails. Out of curiosity, to get a peek into the money that her parents had spent for the wedding, Naina slit the envelope open. Naina’s jaw dropped and eyes widened in shock. Her father had taken a loan of 50 lakhs for the wedding expenses. She could not believe what she saw. She put the letter away and never discussed it with anyone again. Nor did her parents ever discuss this with her.
Naina is a happily married woman today. Blessed with 2 beautiful children and is very content in her life. But there are times when the amount she had seen on the bank letter flashes into her mind.
Today, when she saw the news item, after all these years, Naina thought to herself…
Directly or indirectly she had become a part of the unavoidable dowry system. At one point she had met a guy who upfront asked for a 10 Lakhs dowry and had agreed to share the cost of the marriage. On the other hand she had married her husband with her parents paying entirely for the marriage. His family did not think that they had done anything wrong here. They had just followed the age old tradition of the bride’s family paying for it all. Naina’s parents had not thought of discussing the wedding expenses with the groom’s family, even though they landed up paying for the loan for the rest of their lives, with the fear that their only daughter Naina’s marriage would get stalled and if Naina came to know about it she would not agree to marry.
What happened in her own life sometimes makes Naina think, if her parents had eventually agreed to the dowry of the doctor, her father would have spent way less money than what he actually had! Paradoxical? Yes!
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Published here earlier.
Image source: By Quietsong (Own work) [CC BY 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
I am a Software Engineer by profession. I have worked for nearly 6+ years in
This is a very good post Deeksha about a persistent social evil and its consequences. I like that you have approached it as a questioning of the fundamental flaw in our system of arranged marriages where a bride is disadvantaged one way or another. What you’ve written sounds like the true story of far too many girls in India. Dowry or any other form of unequal and imbalanced expenditure on the part of a bride is wrong and unfair. To continue these practices in subtle and devious ways (to avoid being caught by the law)is the trickery of patriarchy and naivety on the part of brides and their families. In a traditional arranged match where a woman has to leave her parents home and suffer loss of emotional and parental support by joining a new set up of strangers with unknown expectations of her time and efforts (and nowadays even her income) are quite clearly unfair expectations as it is. Now to compound that and add insult to injury as it were – does it not seem absolutely ridiculous that SHE has ended up being the one to compensate the groom for HER inevitable sacrifices by way of wedding expenses and dowry! Shouldn’t it be the other way around? Any self respecting groom with a head for being fair, will not think it ok to take a dowry or have his bride spend more on his own wedding than he himself!! There are many men and fathers, women and mothers who have rejected this practise of giving or getting dowry (even if its as expenses of wedding, honeymoon etc) Wedding themselves should not be such ridiculously expensive affairs in the first place, for either of the spouses to waste their parents or their own money upon! Secondly both partners in a marriage should see themselves as team mates and thus be fair to each other in choices and decisions relating to marriage and after. When a marriage starts out on a fair note, it has a better chance of working out fairly and for the wellbeing and good of each individual as well as the couple as a team.
Thank you so much Sonia for your comment. You have spoken my mind with every word you have said. I really appreciate the time you have taken to write this comment.
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