Giving and receiving dowry has been an age-old tradition. Age old as in really age old! Something that has been religiously followed for generation after generation and centuries after centuries surely cannot be changed. But there have been some changes in the very reason of asking/giving dowry and people’s attitude and mind-set about it.
What I slowly came to realize was that the girls parents were giving so much money, household utensils, jewellery and clothes all in the name of dowry to make sure their girl is well dressed and well settled when she starts her new life with her new family. Its not that the groom’s family don’t have vessels or money, it’s that the girls parents take it as their responsibility to provide for the daughter initially.
I only came to realize this when I was getting married myself. We were out and about doing shopping for the wedding and the reception, and I found myself looking at more clothes and sarees, which would be appropriate to be worn after the wedding while going out to other families and friends’ houses for dinner or things like that. To add on to my shopping craze, a few other people were saying its best to keep stock of new clothes, especially if you were going to other people’s houses and if you would be taking pictures everywhere.
It made complete sense, and that’s when it occurred to me that this is why every India wedding I attended in the past always had an impressive show of sarees complete with matching inskirts and blouses, punjabi suits, matching handbags and shoes, make up stuff and accessories, and also household necessities such as cooking vessels and utensils. All this because the bride’s family wanted to make sure she carried the family name well in the midst of her in laws and friends.
Sometimes, parents who were able, also gave some cash according to their capability, which is to be at the girls’ disposal, not anyone else. In those days, girls were not meant to be educated or sent out to work. Thus, it was believed that girls couldn’t take care of themselves and need to be provided for at all times. Hence, the money that is deposited in the girls’ name. In cases of emergency, they could always use this money.
Getting news things is part of the whole festive and moving into a new phase of life, which is all good. All of the above was the initial idea and purpose of dowry.
Today, it has evolved into a whole new ball game. What used to be all about the bride, has now become all about prestige and competition. This dowry business has become nothing but a business, a dirty, stinky one. It has gone to the extend where wealthy groom’s family demand for money equivalent to their riches, or demand according to the boy’s profession, or even demand more just to create their on world Guinness record of highest dowry ever obtained in history. These kinds of people should be given the Guinness record for uncivilization if you ask me.
What has become even more atrocious now is that there are grooms family who demand houses, cars, and even expensive jewellery and accessories for their sons with the excuse that he’s a doctor/lawyer/engineer/business man. Excuse me, if your son is actually a qualified doctor/lawyer/engineer/business man, doesn’t it make sense that he maintains his dignity and get his own stuff? There are also those who demand for more money from the girl’s family because the groom’s family is filthy rich. Again, excuse me, if you are already rich, why do you want someone else’s money? Also, if you really insist on doing it, go and find someone else who is equally rich and not as stingy as you.
Dowry is really not about prestige at all! Prestige is a useless manmade attitude and thought. Dowry is not about giving to those who already have! Dowry is not about setting a bar and raising it whenever you feel like it. Marriage is not all/only about how much so and so has given. There’s more to marriage then worrying about finances and meeting to the grooms families’ demands or boasting about how much money and jewellery was exchanged.
Although I understand the necessity of dowry in those days, I’ve always been against the whole idea of it. How is it fair to give so much money to the groom’s family to marry their daughter? It actually seems as if the bride’s family is buying the groom by giving so much. Is it not fair then, to demand the groom to come to the girl’s family instead of the other way round?
I would really like to see someone break this tradition. If the boy is a professional, earning well and come from a well to do family, why don’t YOU give the money to the girl and bring her? If you are earning, you can very well get what you want, instead of demand from the bride’s family. It’s way below the belt to fantasize over someone else’s money while trying to save your own.
I really wish I would live to see the day when the coming generation would change these traditions. May the grooms to be take the challenge, grow some backbones and survive on their own capabilities without tormenting the bride’s family.