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A family who has makes demands without any regard for your financial condition or your troubles, will never be satiated. It doesn’t matter how many tolas of gold you give.
No Indian marriage is complete without Gold. India’s love affair with Gold has been going on since centuries. Our love for gold is a religion in itself; it is as ancient as our heritage.
It is the great Indian dream of the rich and the poor to own gold, the more you have the better it is. It is considered as a status symbol, a sign of financial security, wealth and wellbeing.
Our affair with the lustrous metal starts at our birth itself, it is a tradition in many parts of the country and across many religions to gift gold to the new-born on their naming ceremony or birthday.
I have never really understood the obsession Indians have with gold. Yes I agree it does form an important part of your financial portfolio, and acts as a hedge against bad times, but only if people actually took it as it is. We have grown up looking at Bollywood movies where the marriage is called off when a certain sum or gold is promised to the groom’s family and the opposite party doesn’t fulfil their obligation. The boy and girl want to marry each other, the guests are invited, the venue and food is paid for, but how much do these things matter anyway – ‘No gold no wedding!’ haven’t we heard this so many times?
Marriage should be about love, forging new relationships, and the union of two families but it is anything but that.
No wedding in the world is like an Indian wedding; it is larger than life and is sometimes a week long affair. There is fanfare, lots of dancing, beautiful flowers, delicious food, lavish clothing, and lots of gold. The bride often wears an armour of gold, she is laden with gold right upto her waist.
The hot topic in the wedding is not how and when the couple met, how qualified they are or how happy they look together. Why talk about such boring things? Let’s talk about how much gold the bride is wearing!
Kitna tola hoga? (How many grams is it?)
Why is she wearing such little gold? Maybe her parents can’t afford to buy her gold.
Wow that’s a lot of gold, her parents must be loaded!
Is it even real gold? Looks like imitation jewellery.
Guests who are invited to the wedding instead of giving blessings start giving valuations about the gifts and arrangements done for the wedding. There are also discussions about how much gold the bride will be carrying to her new house. There are always people who have insider information passed on by the new in-laws. They are either lucky or unlucky depending on how much gold the new bride will bring; bonus is if you get a car or a flat.
At times gifting gold is not enough, sometimes the bride’s family gifts the groom everything necessary to set up the house. It includes furniture, electronic appliances, utensils and vehicles.
There are more subtle ways of asking for dowry nowadays as no one wants to get into a legal mess. The bride’s parents also consider it a moral obligation to ask the boys side if they want anything. Instead of refusing dowry upfront they often say, “You can give whatever you want from your side to your daughter. Whatever is suitable to you.”
The tradition where the women’s side pays for the wedding still prevails in many families even today. People might say they don’t take dowry but let me tell you this. If you don’t pay your share and expect the girl’s side to pay for everything then it is dowry!
You can hide in under the guise of tradition but it is unjust. Traditions like the below are all biased and discriminatory.
The first delivery has to be paid for by the girl’s side.
On birth of a child, the girl’s parents have to gift the first gold ornament.
Expecting gold from the girl’s side on festive occasions.
It is true many people do gift gold out of their own accord but expecting them to gift is wrong. Insulting, taunting or passing snide comments when they don’t is inhumane and uncalled for. If you love gold so much – Buy it yourself!
Many women don’t see the gold again after the wedding is over. The mother-in-law keeps it in the bank, a locker where she solely has access or has kept it in a safe place according to her. The bride only gets to see the face of it during festivals and family marriages.
Isn’t it surprising that a woman old enough to marry is not considered capable enough to take care of her own belongings!
In the first few months of marriage, relatives or family friends come over to visit the new couple. The women are either curious to see the gold or excited to show off the gold. The bride’s gold is removed and displayed to guests and everyone gets to discuss the same. Questions such as the purity, the number of grams, the design and pattern are raised. I fail to comprehend who gives the right to family members to show off someone else’s personal possessions unless you already consider it as your private possessions to flaunt.
Would it be considered okay if the new bride has her friends over and she says, “Let me get my mother-in-law’s or sister-in-law’s jewels to show you. Must be 10 tolas! The design is very old fashioned.”
This is something unimaginable, and would it be tolerated? We can’t even think of doing this, even in our dreams! It is clear that her mother in law’s gold is not hers to boast about in the first place. Shouldn’t the same logic be used when it’s the other way round? Mothers in law, it is not appropriate to gloat or complain about things that don’t belong to you, so it’s clear you ahem appropriated your daughter in law’s gold as your own!
A wedding for a common middle class family means digging into savings, taking reserves out of their retirement earnings, and many a times taking a loan. What poor families face is something that we all know, their despair and struggle is heart-breaking.
Families start saving and keeping money aside decades in advance for their daughters marriage, (even the ‘schemes’ we have for a daughter’s marriage is proof that this is universally recognised). Even the mother’s jewellery is generally passed on to the daughter sometimes out of love, but mostly because the ‘quota’ of gold to be given needs to be completed.
She has to have enough gold to wear, and enough gold to carry to her new home. Which of course, the in laws then take over. So it is not really ‘given to the daughter’.
Does the girl need so much gold to wear?
Is she going to be wearing the heavy gold sets on a day to day basis or just a couple of times a year at a family wedding?
What is the reason for giving so much gold? Is it out of love, tradition or societal pressure?
Whose ‘wealth’ is the gold going to become finally?
Do 50 tolas of gold guarantee happiness in married life. or 30 tolas help you have a satisfactory married life? Does anyone know a number?
I am sorry to break this to you but a family who has unrealistic expectations and makes demands without any regard for your financial condition or your troubles, will never be satiated. Doesn’t matter how many tolas of gold, cash or dowry you give, they will always want more and your daughter will be at the receiving end of their greed. Gold does not assure a hassle free life, even if you give your daughter a few kilos of gold, they might find flaws in other things. The list is endless and we all know about it.
Gold can play a fundamental part in your financial portfolio. As an investment it helps in diversifying your portfolio, acts as a hedge against inflation and is easy to liquidate. It is important to treat it as a part of your portfolio and not your entire portfolio. If you willingly want to gift gold as a security to your daughter, why not give her a couple of gold sets and invest the remaining in digital gold which would be in her name?
We as a country are enamoured of gold, and it is a part of our socio economic culture. It is a tradition I don’t see changing anytime soon. It is upto us to uphold our traditions, but not at the cost of a girl’s family who struggle for funds to meet these unreasonable demands.
Dear Women– Stand up for yourselves, learn to say no when you feel there are unreasonable demands. Have that conversation with your future husband about finances as it is very important. Make sure your parents don’t struggle to meet financial expectations; they need that money for their retirement and old age. Ask for the expenses to be shared, it is not just you getting married but your man too. Remember it takes two so why should one person bear the brunt of finances.
Dear Men – Say No to dowry! A woman will love you and respect you, her family will treat you like a son not a son-in-law. Share the burden. Your wife is worth more than all the gold you get and both of you can always work together to build a future which is secure and satisfying.
Slowly but gradually I see lot of women taking a stand, and setting an example. I also see men saying no to dowry even if a girl’s family insists.
I hope you and I can do the same. Let’s take responsibility and set a new precedent together. Only then we can say our heritage and traditions are the best in the world. Let us change the conversation from, “How many tolas of gold is the bride wearing?” to “How beautiful the radiance of love looks on the new couple’s face!”
A heart full of love is worth more than gold and the radiance of character outshines the glimmer of all the gold in the world!
Image source: shutterstock
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