Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Say No To Dowry

Marriage is an entity of benign omens and configurations made in the heaven, performed on the earth. It’s a gracious threshold to unification of two souls and of two families. As a prime religious ceremony, its zenith lies in a father’s courage to give away his piece of heart, his daughter in a poised and sacred alliance to another man as her better half. Also known as “Kanya daan” in Hindu wedding, it’s the father of the bride that offers his daughter for marriage on a promise that the groom shall perform his duties as a husband according to the vedic(religious) hymns recited during the ceremony. For a father indeed this is a moment of peak emotions as he fondly remembers the time when he cuddled his little daughter in his arms, rode her on his strong back, was swept away by her fascinating innocence, hugged her when she had a nightmare or a problem just to see that little girl leave to a different destination one day! It must take a father’s breath away to give away his child with such deep feelings and subconscious fear for his daughter’s wellbeing in her new life.    

From invoking loud chants to seven divine circuits of the holy fire (as in Hinduism), marriage is an inception of blushing emotions and a moment of coy as the bride and the groom decide to walk their journey together. With being betrothed comes a great responsibility on the couple to fructify a relationship based on mutual support and love. This elemental feature is the hallmark of being wedded to conjoin and be inseparable. Also known as ‘‘exchange of Vows” or “Saptapadi’’, these are seven significant steps in Hindu rites that defines marriage as an institution based on spiritual bond between the bride and her groom. It’s here that the couple vows to each other a healthy relationship, prosperous living, righteous lifestyle, happiness, harmony and faith, creating a family together, longevity of their marital relationship, and of being true and loyal to each other in order to sustain their companionship. 

If these are the sacraments we preach and practice over centuries in India then 

Why does the holy fire turn into a bride’s pyre? 

Why are some newly wed brides estranged, silently suppressed, emotionally harassed and in worst cases abused and burned to death?   

Is the idea of marriage today companionship or a competitive sale? 

Has education and urbanization taught us nothing at all?

Is being religious, devotional to god through fasting and pilgrimages taught us to suck a father’s blood through dowry if he wants to see his daughter settled and happy? 

When shall we cease inequalities between daughters and daughter-in-laws that cause us to be intellectually, emotionally and religiously immobile to practice what we learn from holy prayers and scriptures? 

Are those people who are ready to bargain their son today, also ready to bargain their own daughter tomorrow? 

If there is a price tag on an individual, is there a bargain for bruised emotions too?

Is being educated professionally, belonging to a good family, being raised with values just not enough for a girl to be happily married? 

Is it moral to ask for dowry in a smart, intelligent way and then later proclaim that ‘we didn’t ask for anything, we didn’t get any anything’? 

How would it feel to lose a young, lively and beautiful daughter? How would it feel to hear her cry, sob with pain? 

What would it be like to face a crisis that haunts most fathers and daughters in India? 

If Dowry means “stri-dhan”(gifts given by parents to their daughter, a property of the woman, her share of her parent’s wealth) then why is she tormented and trampled for her own wealth? 

Can India contain the benefits of globalization if its daughters are strangled by a social evil?

Who should be blamed for this?

 ......the parents of the girl, the girl herself, the in-laws or the society and our state of mind that forces us to such immoral acts through its injurious social comparisons? 

These are some questions that certainly dismay parents in India and abroad as their daughters turn marriageable or are in a marital relationship. If we still wait for someone else to be a Spartan to “say no” to dowry, then who shall be the first one to break this vicious cycle?

Today it’s happening to someone else’s daughter. Tomorrow it could happen to you and your daughter. 

Just think about it! 

Let marriage remain a social institution, a spiritual unification and not a daunting auction. Say No To Dowry.

Copyright (c) 2010 - present Dharbarkha.blogspot
Video Courtesy: http://www.youtube.com/user/BarkhaDhar


  1. Dear Barkha,
    What a powerful article that rips at our hearts. Many of us are not aware that this custom still exists and that the lives of women hang in such tumultuous balance. You have raised your voice in a spiritual questioning of such practices. It is difficult to break the chains of tradition, but if they are detriments to women then they are detrimental to society. Thank you for your courage. May your own days be filled with peace and joy. You are a light in the darkness.

  2. Very nice. This is fully wrong tradition. We can blame on whole soceity. Why its going on. Its like buying. Also showing of money from rich people on wedding parties is wrong. Must stop this. Thank you for this article. Love.

  3. Dear Barkha,
    My name is Pedro Oliveira. I am a Portuguese psychologist and anthropologist. 'Chains' is a blog-project on applied anthropology and digital activism. Our history is documented in this blog and in a Facebook page with the same name. This project aims to give everyone a chance of creating a narrative of difference informed by the ideas and methods of anthropologists. Chain-Blogging involves the creation of a network of interrelated blogs across countries of people learning about diversity by face to face encounters and sharing their stories online. You will find us here: http://chainsofdifference.blogspot.com. It would be great to have you with us. Regards, Pedro

  4. Barkha - Following your blog more closely now. Great stuff!

  5. Barka: Love this post and the companion video. Left a much longer message, and lost it. I've posted a note on my blog. I'm sorry I wasn't able to post mine, but I just have to patch it together, and I'm doing it anyway. I don't think people know how sick I am; hopefully will see a doctors in the next month or two that will help. Favorited your video, and will put link on my blog (I think I already have one for YouTube. Warmest egards, and sweet tides, scribadiva

  6. Very thought provoking...I must say. Well, India is changing but Indians remain the same, at least most of them. A thing like Dowry, in the first instance..I feel like laughing on those who demand for the same. How on earth can people be so ruthless when such demands are not met. Well, we haven't faced it till date but my heart goes out to those who have been made to suffer because of the same. I have been hearing, reading stories on the same and it really fills me with utter shame to know that education is just for the namesake. These ghastly acts of human barbarism has no justification and it is high time that those getting into such acts are subjected to capital punishment. Also, mass awareness programs must be launched to clear such rotten minds. All of us should be united against such barbarism and do every bit from our side to clean our society from such evil.

  7. @askcherlock @swamijibalendu @Pedro @Corinne
    @scribadiva @aswani
    Thank you all your wonderful insights and compliments. I am glad you liked it.

  8. Barkha - the traditions and the rituals do not necessarily contribute to any evil. Rather its the situation in a society and how people choose to respond to that which manifests in ills of the society.

    I am sure, dowry has been around for over a 1000 years... and we didn't have the cases of bride burning or in-laws forcing brides to get more ever before. Why now?

    That is the important question.

    Dowry was probably an intelligent tradition for the safety of a girl being married. But when the society became so sick that people found nothing wrong in going for wealth by hook or crook, whether it belonged to them or not, then all the evils of dowry were waiting to happen.

    The very tendency which makes one hook up a wire on the live electricity wire to steal the electricity, is the exact same tendency that makes an in law push their bride to get-dowry-or-else!

    I think we are all hacking at all sorts of branches.. not the root.

  9. Congratulations. You've put together a lovely video on a crucial social concern. You should promote it often and widely. It has legs.

  10. a very good blog barkha....a good one on social issues like dowry....

  11. Desh,
    Thanks for your comment. Very true, dowry originated as ‘stridhan’ and a bride’s financial armor. However, it is the greed that hustled into crime, deception, and the unscrupulous means of acquiring the daughter-in-law’s gold, wealth, pride, and subsequently her life! Shame on those who overtly or covertly ask for dowry, and feel that they can sell their son!

  12. Thanks pundit,
    For your attentive encouragement and courteous comment. It really means a lot!

  13. nice one there ..& yeah btw thanx fer the comment...

  14. hey...nice one there... btw thanx fer the comment...

  15. It was really worth a very good read...awakening post... on the dowry demon!!!!!


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