Thursday, July 2, 2009


Guest Post Contributed by Anju Gandhi of 'Awakening'
Thanks for sharing Anju Gandhi

I attended a marriage last month. Some details of the marriage
Sangeet in a five star hotel with a guest list of 800+ (that includes not only relatives or friends but distant business colleagues or acquaintances and their family
Marriage in open ground ( big enough to accommodate more than 2000 guests) fresh flowers decorations everywhere ( orchids, roses etc), fireworks, sparkling lights all over, games for children,valet parking arrangements for the odd 2000 guests, more than 150 dishes in the buffet spread ( Punjabi, Rajasthani, Guajarati, Maharastrian Mexican, Chinese, continental, Italian , you name the dish and it was there)
Brides outfit (minus the jewellery) more than Rs one lakh)
Gifts given by the bride’s family to the groom’ family (mind you to the grooms family not to the groom or the bride) - diamond jewellery to immediate family members (including the male members, gold to other relatives, 21 saris to grooms mother only clothes for all near relatives, silver glasses to distant relatives AND this is besides the dowry which was given to the bride
Bride a Doctor
Groom a MBA
Out of those 2000 odd guests only few knew the couple. Rest like me were guests who didn’t know even the parents. (I had accompanied my husband and father in law as they were also acquaintances of the father)
I wonder why the so called educated, modern and liberated couple didn’t object to this sheer wastage of money. Why they did not put their foot down to lavish gifts given or the dowry given and when asked the couple they replied “can’t help it, in our community all this has to be done”
How can a self respecting. decently placed boy expect his wife to bring dowry. after all equality of gender is also something.
Why the girls family is expected to spend so much on the marriage. After all, the girl is equally educated and most of the parents don’t differentiate these days between girls and boys then why do the parents of a girl have to shell out so much to see their daughter married off. Is the daughter a burden on them? Is it a crime to have a daughter or see her settled in life with a decent boy?
Is it only the girl who is getting married? Is the boy not getting a wife who will leave her house, her family to come to live with him, his family and make all of them a part of her own family?
Why doesn’t the boy’s family also contribute equally to the marriage functions? Why it is expected from the girl’s side only to bear the expenses of the marriage function.
More important why squander so much on marriage functions and invite each and every one. Why can’t this money be given to the couple to start their life with more comforts? After all, the money is being spent by the parents. Give as much as you want to your daughter but why blow the hard earned money on strangers?
I suppose marriage is a family function where only close relatives and family friends should be present to bless the couple (we didn’t even go to wish the couple for simple reasons that we didn’t know the couple and there was a long queue near the stage, we just wished the parents and left), I just thought what was the need for them to invite us or hundreds of others. Was it just to show off their riches or to show off the long guest list or to promote their business?
Fine, parents who can afford to spend so much, spend but think of parents who are financially not well off, it becomes a burden for them to see their daughter married. That is why a daughter is not welcomed in many of Indian families.
Even after the huge dowry given (which according to me is the price given to buy the boy for the girl but in our culture which is seen as the price given to the boy to marry the daughter, as if the daughter is a liability on the parents, the sooner she is disposed off, the better it is for the parents) the girl doesn’t get respect or her due place at her inlaws place.
I am all for celebrating the marriage with all traditions and customs, having all the ceremonies , giving gifts to the couple but only because I want to give not because it is expected from me being the brides parents,after all we parents earn for our children and we want them to have all the comforts and facilities,( I would like to have all the possible ceremonies for my daughter’s marriage, follow all the customs) but with only close friends and relatives who are a part of your family and who will be happy for the couple but why invite the whole town to witness your propserity or why take loans just to maintain your name in the society ( no one will come to rescue you from the clutches of loan givers once you fail to return the loan)
If the parents wants to give to the couple go ahead and give if you can afford but please don’t make a public display of your affluence.
And to the young generation especially the boys who are on the threshold of marriage, stand up, raise your voice against dowry or display of opulence of your parents in the name of tradition and customs.. Take whatever your parents can give you, even demand (after all you have the right to and it is yours only) but don’t advertise it. Think of lakhs of family who cannot afford to do so. and even if they can afford it


AnjuGandhi said...

thank you so much for publishing my post.
how do i display this logo on my blog?

Anonymous said...

I am still to figure out why this happens in India.It appals me.

Smitha said...

This is such a thought provoking post. I have had similar experiences and have argued in vain with people who think it is 'fine' as far as no 'dowry' has been demanded!

Such ostentatious display just sets a benchmark.. As you say, people with lesser means who are just not in a position to do the same - are not treated in the same manner..

What really galls me is - being such an educated couple, why did they not put their foot down? After all, whatever is the girl's share should go to the girl - I don't understand why the girl's parents gift the boy's parents? Isn't it just another form of a bribe to ensure their daughter's happiness?

One thing I am sure is, when my daughter gets married - I will not gift her stuff.. Everything we have is hers - and we certainly do not need to show off what we are 'giving her'.. My parents did not - and I am fine..

I also feel that young people should not demand their share.. I feel it should be up to the parents to give what they please, to their children or not - after all it is their hard earned money and I would be just as happy if my parents decided to splurge and do something fun.. It is their money/property to spend or give away - to do as they please...

Solilo said...

Thank you Anju Gandhi for this guest post. We really appreciate it.

Pertinent questions and I wish if we knew the answers to why people still believe in this "give and take"? Why boy's family thinks that it is okay to go and eat/demand/enjoy without any contribution from their side whatsoever.

Why all this still happens and more at higher level?!

Solilo said...

Anju, mailed you about the logo.

Doodleduck said...

Literate doesnot mean 'Educated'.....really, does so much of 'waste' ensure a woman's happiness? If she is going to be respected because of the'moolah' she brings she really respected at all?? I believe it is for women to take a stand. Even if the family can afford is not exploiting their own parents.

Happy Kitten said...

Dowry is evil and it needs to be stopped at least among those who cannot afford it.

But for many marriages still remain more of a business deal than anything else. The rich still use marriage to forge business partnership and the deal will never be made if enough money is not thrown in with the girl.

As for lavish weddings, I used to feel the same anguish until I realized that weddings are an industry in itself. There are many lives who subsist on this. Think of the flowers and the decorated halls, the food and the waiters etc. If the rich is not made to spend then how is the wealth going to be distributed? So let the rich spend their money. As long they do not overspend on gold and diamonds which gest locked up, let those who subsist on this industry continue to live.

And for those who cannot afford such weddings, it requires some drumming of sense into them. Now that marriage registration has been made compulsory (we ourselves spent many hours in the Panchayat office getting it done for Hubby’s nephew), marriages in Church or temples may stop being a necessity.

For my marriage, no dowry was demanded though I agree that the wedding expense had to be met by my Father and this continues to be an unfair practice. As parents the least we can do is take a pledge not to demand dowry and to tell our children not to expect it.

Anonymous said...

....I find your opinion and thoughts very mature. Let's say I am a troubled daughter-in-law. Why is it generalised that old people in India are a neglected lot? Even those who are generally taken care of, how much easier do they make it for the younger generation? They are quick to point fingers at their grown up sons as if he was a child while they themselves do nothing to keep family peace. I have bee married for the past 10 years.These 10 years have been the worst years of my life. My husband is a good human being, he just fails to see the web of deceit his parents weave behind his back to dominate me. They intend to keep me 'under control' as we have been taking care of them since the last 10 years. His elder brother and his wife just pay cursory visits once or tiwce in an year, that too for 3-4 odd days. I never threw tantrums, adjusted where it was needed. Changed clothing habits, grew hair longer(u know, the bahu factor), eating patterns, all at their insistance. It took me 5-6 years to see through the deceit, the taunts, the sarcastic comments.It killed me psycologically. I lost all self esteem and confidence. I felt like a maid. I had been sheiding my husband ....never confided in him much. At one point of time, I was contemplating suicide. Later, I realised no one would shed a tear on my body and I have to live for my child. Slowly, I regained my esteem by joining a job. I felt like a human again. No, I am not making myself a victim here. I have learnt to give it back if any of them tries their luck. But I been scarred for life........I donot know whether I would ever be able to forgive them in this life. I do tell my husband now. And believe me it is not easy. Thru these experiences I have learnt a number of harsh facts of life. I am no more an innocent, naive girl that I used be. This happened to me - an army officer's daughter and a pg in design from one of india's top colleges who worked in Delhi for for four years before settling down to a 'blissful'(???) life.
My point with troubling you about all this is that- Older generation is quick to say that younger generation is doing nothing for their parents but do elder generation behave in such a way to command respect? It is almost like seeking their pound of flesh from their son, for giving him birth and taking care of him. Why is the DIL always projected as evil and cunning? Why arenot the PILs oriented about how to treat the DIL, the way DILs are taught to 'adjust' in their new 'home'. Afterall, every relationship works only if there is an equal contribution from all involved. A DIL is expected to accept so many people in the new house without a word but so many people of a family cannot accept one frail DIL without critisizing???
I would be interested in your opinion. Plz. reply in your blog.
Thank you for giving me the time.......

A typical Indian harassed DIL

Indyeah said...

Thnak you for writing this post Anju.

Dowry is such an ugly, ugly side of the society we live in that words sometimes dont suffice.

And you know the biggest irony?
The fact that tommorow the very same girl's family will happily go and ask dowry from THEIR
DIL to-be!!!

They will very conveniently forget all the hassles and trouble and mental trauma that they faced when THEY had to face this evil called dowry!

and THIS IS WHY it continues!:(

Bceause noone is ready to standup and say ENOUGH!

On a diff note while I agree that the parents can give whatever they want to..I would not say that the children can 'demand ' it per se.
I think what the parents have is not the childrens merely by right of birth.
Parrents can decide to give them everything and not a penny if they dont want to.

Liked your post a lot.
Hope to see you here more often as a regular contributor.
Thank you for this post.

AMEN to your call to the young generation to step up !

Anrosh said...

the marriage reception mela will become less when the parents will stop spending on marriage ceremonies.

and if the people who are getting married want to put it on thier credit cards and spend it,nobody can stop - at least it willbe the right attitude " i want to celebrate with my family and friends".

many cultures treat marriage receptions in differnt ways.

And the superrich only spend more to show HOW much more rich they are.To each its own I say.

Anrosh said...

anonymous, can you say "enough is enough", put on the brakes and start afresh?

Suchismita said...

Very thought provoking. The origin of dowry is 'stree- dhan' or the woman's share of the family wealth given to her at the time of the wedding. All this may have been valid when the law of the land made a distinction between the male and female heirs, pre-independence, for instance. Now things are different and yet there are avaracious people who try and grab whatever they can. Sometimes the women themselves feel proud of what they have got with them and even feel entitled. Till brides to be do not put their foot down firmly, things will not change.After all, men need brides as much as women need grooms.I know it works, you just cannot buckle to pressure.