Saturday, March 30, 2013

Uncertain Views: Society and Dowry

It’s been a few months since I began thinking about my personal views on the subject of dowry. I remember seeing Satyamev Jayate’s episode on dowry last year and how it stirred me! I held the view, then, that I would definitely not want my parents to give any form of dowry. This is not to say that I would want them to give dowry, now, whenever I get married.
This post is a discussion with myself, which of course I’m posting publicly, inviting comments and a discussion if possible! I was wondering certain aspects a few days back, as I read as few topics in Sociology.
  • Who started the practice of dowry in India?
  • Does Patriarchy have to do everything with the origin of the dowry system?
  • Were women always considered a burden?
Let me state it clear enough, we all know that the world will practically stop moving if there are no women left. Leave alone household chores, which a woman does, on which the basis of the mankind exists, but there would be no next generation if you had no women to bear the kids!
Of course we have entered a century where women are working 5 am to 12 pm. Yes! A lady gets up in the morning for her kids, readies them for school, makes lunch for everybody, goes for work, comes back home, helps kids with homework and the list is endless…. In between all this, I do not refuse to acknowledge the work man does, yet it has always been about her share of work and responsibilities and the little credit attributed to her.

Why Dowry, at all, I ask?
To think of, maybe girls as they were born were not inherently thought of as burdensome, but, the practice of dowry added so much of weight on the fragile shoulders of a parent born with a girl child, that as soon as they saw their tiny little baby girl, they didn’t see the wonders she could create or smiles she could deliver, but, that they would have to start gathering money for her marriage, perhaps 25 years away from that day. The worries of future at times create such a daze that the present as well seems nothing but a blur.

I respect the families and the elders for whom welcoming a daughter- in- law in the family as a daughter is what matters the most; for whom it is the values, the education and the perspectives that she shall bring with her is of utmost importance than the wealth, the riches and tonnes of boxes filled with gifts to please the members of the extended family. Won’t every girl want that?

For women who are already married, and may read this, I ask, did you for even one second question the system of dowry as your parents ordered fridge, microwave, furniture , or perhaps a big car as nothing but “gifts” to their beloved daughter?
For me, “gifts” would be nothing but genuine blessings from elders for a better life ahead, promises that they shall guide us in the future, forgiveness for the moments when we were rude even as we were right. These kinds of gifts feel like a bouquet of heartfelt roses to me. That indeed is satisfying.

Let me question something? Our parents toil all their life to educate us. In fact in Indian system, we   ( both boys and girls) end up staying with our parents for almost a quarter of our lives. Do they ever say “how long will we have to feed you?” I have seen families where a guy got married, brought a wife home, yet the parents spent a good amount of money in the household expenditure because he doesn’t earn well. I ‘m of the view that if they have spent good chunk of money on us only to educate us, then it is the duty of the kids (read : duty) to not let their happiest day of life, that is marriage, become a burden for their parents!

We are young adults who are earning decent money. With experience more shall come our way, right? Lets us see logically. A simple marriage if done within one’s means brings more happiness than one where parents end up paying back loans even after the daughter goes away to her new home!

In fact, a marriage is such a beautiful solemn affair, that one needs no grand pandals or multi cuisine menu, but simply two garlands (for the bride and the groom), a pandit to chant mantras and declare you husband and wife. And all this can be managed in few thousand of rupees than lakhs of money! Of course, good food is always on the list, but read ‘good food’; that in no way is synonymous to multi cuisine food! (tsk tsk society!!)

I have found myself swinging like a pendulum with regards to the kind of marriage I would like to have. Sure, it is once in a lifetime affair, and we can justify it to be grand; indeed it’s a moment of happiness, still! Last year in one of the Brunch’s magazine I read how young adults who were getting married were funding their own weddings, which seemed like a reasonable thing to do!

Weddings are a great time to have fun, but when society and consumerism pressurize to the extent that parents save a huge amount from their hard earned money only to please relatives and in- laws, then it’s a big turn off! Believe me; people from rich families flaunt their wealth in the form of dowry only to make the other party feel small!! Tsk tsk, how low can people get?

 I do hope that in some time, my mind steer clears of the trivial things that make this Indian society happy: the social obligations, the glam sham etc. because in the end marriage is about two people and two families coming together to celebrate love, understanding and cherish happiness, isn’t it?


Tomichan Matheikal said...

To a great extent it is religion that created the system. Why is only a son (not a daughter) allowed to perform certain rituals? Why is a daughter considered inferior by the religion? Perhaps, we should start questioning such religious beliefs and practices.

buzee bee said...

I had recently come across Kabita Sinha 's Eve speaks to God. ,Ishwareke Eve,it sums up woman's status as desired by religion.

buzee bee said...

When going through Women's stories I came across a poem by Kabita Sinha When Eve Speaks to God, Ishwareke Eve. Women use dowry as a bait and what is more exasperating is that women comply or prefer to conform to a useless trend . The parents ,the society demand a price for their son ,does that mean that daughters are under priced.

Aakriti said...

@ Tomichan: Dear Sir, perhaps yes. Its really sad how man created religion which instead of uniting the spirit of God ended up dissecting mankind into groups, propagating an irony even as they talked of brotherhood, love, Krishna and what not...

Aakriti said...

@ Buze bee: Gone are the days when we could consider daughters as "underpriced" or "useless" so to say. We women are far more independent, open minded, liberated and I believe that it's not just about today's women; each era has seen its share of bold women, just that they were hardly appreciated for the voice they raised, against social practices. Take for instance Ismat Chugtai, who even went to jail for her forward ideas.

And yes, I fail to understand why women refuse to give up this so called 'practice'!!

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