Dowry – Social Dilemma

If we go back in time for say two decades, most marriages in India used to happen in the consent of parents and in most of the cases the girl would not get to see the boy until the day of wedding. The girl would be in her teens. Back then there were certain things a family would look for in others in terms of wealth, social status and the history of family. If all went well, the boy’s side would quote certain value for the dowry and the girls side would agree onto a certain final amount.

Fast forward time and come back to the present time. Today parents take care of their child equally well, whether it be a boy or a girl. Everyone gets educated and tries to get a job. Majority of Indians have gave up farming and everyone earns their bread by work or business. The average age of marriage has gone up by 5 years. We have come up to international platform. Now when a match making process is discussed, family looks for the background, social stature and the boy/girl education, job etc.

Things certainly seems to have improved but there are few things they have decided to stick around. Such as horoscope and dowry are certain things that come into picture in most of the communities when a marriage/match making is discussed. Certainly both of them seem irrelevant and unnecessary in this generation and the way we have shaped our life.

The people who dictate about the greatness of dowry need to understand that it does not apply to everyone and most cases today do not need dowry.

He who has gives it away, makes it difficult for he who doesn’t have and eventually the community has a hard time.

The average harmony in that community is never high, since it involves money, in turn revolves around greed, jealousy and all other dark qualities which make humans suffer.

Not every parent is in support of dowry. Over the years there have been many families and communities which have experienced deep complex problems related to money, dowry and after marriage issues related to this. Hence they have learnt the lesson a hard way. Such families and parents have decided not to support dowry in terms of taking it or giving it away. However when they come into the shoes of a parents whose daughter has been well educated and needs to be married now, they are confused. They get confused by the constant provocation and suggestions from their near and dear ones, neighbors and community heads. They wonder whether if they oppose the long held practice of dowry, will they be able get their daughter married in the community. They are worried about the classic Indian Clichy – what will the world say? (Duniya/Samajvale kya kahegi)

But if everyone thinks in this fashion, when will we see a change. And if parents don’t take a stand for their daughters, if families don’t take a stand for their child and if the girls don’t take a stand for their own life, we would still be in the same state back then two decades ago. All the fight and protest regarding the equality of females, equal opportunity and international platform everything becomes futile, since the problem rests at the core of the society. And those who have within them, those families who have made their daughters stand high in the world with education, hard work, sports they must make sure their daughters shines equally bright in marriage and in every walk of life.

It’s in the fundamental thinking as to who makes the move. Who stops thinking about the community and starts bringing a change. It is about making a mark and setting an example. There are communities where girls don’t get to study much but if a parent has made efforts to let their girl get graduate and secure a nice job, then they must certainly oppose the dowry. It should not be followed like a herd mentality. If those parents don’t oppose dowry and they give out huge sum of money since they now earn well, then they are making the biggest mistake.

Since many communities think that daughter is a ‘paraya dhan’ (someone else’s wealth) and that she must be married some day, they never let girls get good opportunities. They store all their lifes hard earned money just to give it away to some stupid family who wouldn’t even promise to take care of their girl. Whatever was being done, might be done blindly but he who has crossed the mark already and given a girl equal opportunity must not indulge in dowry as that gives a negative signal to the community.

They wonder that if getting the child is getting very expensive every year and the girl is supposed to be married with huge dowry in the future, they would instead stop her education and start accumulating all the wealth for the marriage. We will be thrown back decades. We will not be making any progress, instead we will be traveling back in time.

We need to see more examples. We need parents, families and communities thinking larger than self. We need to see girls get good educations and jobs. We need that such families oppose dowry. We can’t give up. We are here to stay for long and then why not be happy with people around us and share love and care.

Marriage is a great concept. The belief of going to someone’s life and staying together for the rest of life in good and bad times. It is a test of human emotions and qualities. Why do we need to infiltrate such wonderful aspect with stuff like dowry.

Please share your thoughts on dowry in the comment sections below.


Vijayadashami (Dussehra) – The Saga

Vijayadashami (Dussehra) is celebrated every year in India, right after the end of Navratri festival. It is marked as the symbol of victory. The victory of good over evil. The victory of Ram over Ravana.

As the story goes, Ravana was the king of Lanka, who kidnapped Sita, wife of Ram, who was the Prince of Ayodhya. Ram and Sita were in exile for 13 years, along with Laxman. The king of Ayodhya, Dashrath had 3 wives, one of them Kaikeyee got worried about her son, Bharat’s future as king of Ayodhya, as Ram was the eldest of all. On Kaikeyee’s wish, Ram was forced to go to exile. That’s how Sita and Laxman followed him.

Ravana on revengeful request from his sister, Surpanaka, kidnaps Sita and takes her to his kingdom – Lanka. Thus starts the beginning of the War of Ramanaya. Ram with the help of Hanuman and other monkey army goes on a fight against the army of Ravana. There are lot of episodes in the story, however the end marks by Ram killing Ravana, after the suggestion from Vibhisan (Ravan’s brother).

The end of Ravan, consider to be an evil person by his act of kidnapping a woman and going against the norms of the society had to meet a fateful end.

To symbolize the end Ravan, every year in India, Vijayadashami is celebrated. ( The Victory on the 10th day, following the lunar calendar)

The celebration starts by creating the idol of Ravana with the waste products and left overs of the year. The idol is kept for public display in the center of the streets or play grounds. At night, the idol is burnt with crackers bursting, symbolizing that people will end evil thoughts in them and start a fresh life.

The beauty of India lies in the celebration of Festivals. Every year, I find new things about the celebrations and everytime I get mesmerized in the depth and diversity of Indian history. This year I get closer to my community and know the people around whom I grew up.

This post is a part of series inDiscovering the Cultural Significance of various rituals and festivals in India.

Are rituals performed in India relevant in modern age ?

Rituals play a very important part of our life, whether it is religious, cultural or personal. We live by some principles in our life, some of them meditate and some go to gym while others go to temple. The significance of rituals or you may name it differently like discipline, habit or practice, but eventually it all boils down to some repetitive action that you perform on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. You understand the significance behind the ritual you perform as a part of your choice, like you eat food 3 times or take a bath in the morning. For some it might be similar as to going to temple.

Whether that makes any sense to you or not is your look out. If that makes sense to them or not, is not your look out. Everyone has a sense of choice to make. No one is forcing you to follow any ritual and if they are then what is that stopping you from listening to it? I am a non-religious person and I am a non-visitor of temple or any religious shrine as a part of ritual or compulsion. I visit for architectural reasons and in a quest to understand the significance of that place. I take part in all rituals over there and try to experience the divinity. It is like going to an amusement park and taking part in all the rides.  Some do participate, some don’t. Some like to take deep dives while others keep it simple. Everyone has a margin to experience certain feelings. Similarly everyone has a margin to experience spirituality. You cannot question what they do  is correct or not.

Now that I put some base to the topic, I would like to address few questions that some of us have –

  • We Indians give too much importance to rituals…
    • Really do we? There is a whole lot of generation coming up who are loosing the essentials of the rituals and forgetting them. Some might be following them strictly but not everyone. Your inclusiveness of the  questions, makes me wonder if the question is about the rituals or about small community of people or about those who try to misuse the knowledge they have.
  • Visiting a temple on a particular day…
    • Whether or not one should visit a temple
    • If so do they do it on particular days
    • Now let me ask you something, where do you go to read books?
    • Where do you go to watch movies?
    • You can watch at home, you can read at home, yet you go to library and theaters. You go to libraries on Mondays and movies on Friday, similarly you to Sai Baba temples on Thursday. You can pray at home, yet going to a place with certain significance helps. It helps to channelize your thoughts. You eat on dinning table, you sleep on bed and you go pee in the bathroom. It is the place devoted for a particular task or action and you do that in that place.
  • Fasting for religious reasons
    • Let me elaborate your assumptions
    • Fasting for Shiva on Mahashivratri
      • The reason was never religious. The reason was for your physical good and some spiritual significance. A stop point to check yourself.
  • Are these relevant in this age?
    • How do you measure relevance? They were never more important to understand than now. We are on the verge to tip off and wash ourselves from all the rituals and cultural diversities. We are all moving towards one goal of fitting in the trend and social media status update. We have lost a lot of heritage, knowledge and learning from the past, now we don’t want to lose whatever is left!
    • Culture doesn’t die when people die. Culture dies when people stop doing those things. There are many food recipes that people don’t cook anymore, because no one cared to learn that in the kitchen. Similarly if we stop caring for the rituals and consider to stop them because of our laziness, lameness or rudeness to understand that, then we will be doing the most punishable act in the eyes of history and future generation.
    • When my friend asks why don’t we know what was there in Nalanda! How did they manage to build such a wonderful caves in the middle of nowhere! Why don’t we have any tracks, knowledge and documentation of such immense knowledge. The only answer I would give it to him is ask yourself and people around you, who are being dumb and lazy enough to ask the question of significance of the rituals performed in Indian Culture. Once a generation questioned the credibility of building all the temples and we lost half of the knowledge related to architecture. Now we question the credibility of following the rituals, we abandon the entire civilization. Welcome to modern India – f**king killing their own culture.
  • Or they are just a solace to fight our fears and insecurities?
    • Fear is the one hardwired feeling in our minds from the times of caves. You cannot do anything about it. Fear has kept us, humans, alive longer than what is expected. We will continue to do so, in our fear of extinction, we keep teaching our next generation to strive harder and stronger. We are always in a fear.

What do you think are the right questions to ask?
Do you think the rituals performed in India have lost all their significance?

If you want to understand or explore the significance of the culture and rituals performed in India, you may visit – Discovering the Cultural Significance of various rituals and festivals in India.

Please feel to share your opinions or thoughts on this post.