Sagan, Shagun, Milni, Or ‘Gifts’, This Is Just A Normalisation of Dowry

Dowry is a cancer our society needs to combat, else it will end up claiming more promising lives while being a perpetual drain on those who pay up.

Dowry is a cancer our society needs to combat, else it will end up claiming more promising lives while being a perpetual drain on those who pay up.

Weddings in our country is something we all look forward to. It gives you a chance to rejoice with your loved ones. At the same time there is something quite suffocating about Indian weddings – normalisation of dowry. It amazes me how smoothly most of us are carrying certain traditions that should stop now. In the name of ‘Sagan’ and ‘love’, how conveniently the bride’s family gives gifts to the groom’s family.

We call this ‘exchange of gifts/len-den’ but these ceremonies are mostly one sided. One hardly witnesses an Indian wedding in which equal gifts are given to the girl’s family from the boy’s side.

Elders usually don’t see anything wrong in it, as they are doing it out of their own sweet will, and as per their affordability. However, I am skeptical about the social pressure which induces this one-sided willingness of giving away gifts.

Dowry in any other name

Customs such as ‘Sagan’ and ‘Milni’ aren’t any less than a dowry. Astonishingly it is normalised to the extent that people link it to their reputation and carry on these traditions with all the attendant pomp grandeur.

These ceremonies are as wrong as explicitly demanding dowry. Why are these gifts (read dowry) given away from one side only? Why is hosting the wedding still the prerogative of the girl’s family? One may argue that certain ceremonies are hosted by the groom’s side also. However, the unequal scale of functions doesn’t justify equality in any manner.

Consequences can be damaging

It may be a minor issue for some, but may leave a huge financial gap in the pockets of some. Even today, it’s surprising the way a girl’s parents save their entire lives to host their daughter’s wedding.

Things may be changing for some of us, and rightly so! But most are still not fortunate enough to witness equality in weddings- a day that may be one of the most important ones in our lives. This is in spite of gaining the best of education (or literacy if I may say). These issues may be inconsequential for some, but they are grave in reality. Even if it isn’t a financial trouble, these customs are wrong as they stem from a very patriarchal mindset.

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It isn’t easy to break these age-old social norms, but I urge you all to think about it and rationally take a stand when you are at the giving/receiving end. Some of us may be way to cool to be bothered about this. You may want to just chill and spend your time rejoicing at weddings. However, it is the contribution and argument of all that matters. It’s time to change- Isn’t it?

First published here.

Image source: a still from web series Made in Heaven

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