The Ancient Dowry System Still Existing in Modern India - It's Time for Us to Change!

Why is the dreaded dowry system still existing in India?

I'm a graduate, and like most educated people in India I believe that dowry system in India should be abolished and done away with - completely. The hard core truth is that it's not enough to possess a university certification or degree to show everyone that you are indeed 'educated'. I have witnessed many modern Indian educated youngsters (probably brought up with traditional and conventional customs) supporting dowry system.

How can India do away with dowry system when her young children themselves are refusing to let go of it?

My True Story - Hidden Dowry Demands

I'm from South India. I got married to a person from another part of South India which supposedly is filled with people who expect dowry. It's an arranged marriage and the guy is very educated. In the beginning, my family were strictly against considering proposals from that particular south Indian zone. I'm avoiding mentioning the exact location because I don't want to hurt anyone's sentiments through this page. The whole purpose of this story is to make everyone see that the dowry system exists even among educated Indian families.

Coming back to the story, since I'm from an educated family who is strictly against dowry we believed everyone in modern India to be the same too. This made us think of proposals even from the dreaded zone which was popular for its dowry system. Eventually I got married into a family without any talks of dowry happening before the marriage.

In South India, girls adorn a lot of gold jewelry on their special day. I did too. After marriage, I decided to safeguard this jewelry in my already existing bank locker. The guy and his family refused when they came to know about this. It's not a part of their tradition, they said. According to their 'customs' and 'traditions', I had to keep this jewelry in the bank locker under his name or his family's name. I found this somewhat fishy. Later on, I figured out through various talks held amongst my husband's family members that his sister had got married off after the promise of Rs. 2 lakh. Additonally, all her jewelry was under her father-in-law's name in the bank locker.

This is what the modern dowry scene is like in India. No more exchange of hard cash... just tucking away the wedding gold jewelry in the father-in-law's name or husband's name with the wife having no authority over her wedding jewelry. How sick is that?

Anyway, I refused to get tricked into this whole scene and placed the wedding gold jewelry in my already existing bank locker under my name.

I'm the first female in his family to have gone against this particular 'custom'.

... But his sister is well educated with a master's degree from a famous university. Why didn't she take a stand against such a decision when it happened to her? Doesn't education come with the common sense knowledge that giving dowry is a custom to be frowned upon? Apparently not.

Fury Knows No Bounds!

It did hurt my husband's family initially that I had gone against this so-called tradition. My husband (who is an electronics engineer btw) told me to not to wear any of my wedding jewelry anymore after he found out that I had transferred my jewelry to my bank locker. I refused on the grounds that my family had got me the jewelry out of love and that I will wear them whenever I please. The issue extended for a long week and then it just died a slow natural death.

I told my husband that such a 'tradition' won't be extended to our children either. He understood after some effort from my part. The problem was that he was 'programmed' to believe that dowry is important -- that the money or jewelry comes handy for the groom in taking care of his new wife in a better way. Now really?

We NEED to Change!

Sometimes our parents bring forth traditions and customs that are controversial. It's our responsibility to change them! I guess most educated youngsters in India can figure out how criminal the dowry system is. Yet, I'm shocked out of my wits to see many of them expecting dowry after marriage. Yes, I have seen many youngsters who dream of owning a new car or a house in the name of dowry.

Some families resolve to violence if they don't get what they expect - true. But some families can be shown the right way too -- which is what I did. If the former takes place, remember -- you deserve better! You need not suffer everything in silence thinking about the consequences.

If something unfair happens to you, make up your mind to change the scene. India deserves better!

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Comments 15 comments

divacratus profile image

divacratus 3 years ago from India Author

Thank you :) I agree it is so important for the women in India to take a stance against this first of all. Even the new generation guys should help in eradicating dowry system then only will India prosper.


female-traveller 3 years ago

I congratulate you from taking this stance against the tradition. I'm so happy there are brave women in India! Dowry system is so evil, marriage shouldn't be a business transaction! I'm also happy that your husband finally agreed with you and hopefully the parents of your husband will eventually change their minds too.


Mini 4 years ago

The dowry system has rooted deeply in the indian society. we daily see many cases of dowry victims in newspapers. ABOLISH DOWRY


over it 4 years ago

i am to marry a sikh boy soon, i am half punjabi, and half south indian, i have lived all my life in the south and now reside overseas. My fiancee's parents are very traditional and are demanding gold to be given to the mother, father, sister, sis in law brother and uncle, we are able to give gold to my fiancée and no more. His mom is also asking that we give 8- 10 suits each to about 7 women in their family.. each suit should cost upwards of 2- 3 thousand rupees. I find this greedy and materialistic.

I believe weddings are to be two people coming together and everyone celebrating their love and sharing in it, not going into it like a business deal. I am well educated and still work and earn almost as much as my fiancée does.

I find this to be a form of dowry and after having been with my partner for over 5 years i am stunned at his family's insistence, they now want him to chose between me and them just over this whole gold issue. They are more concerned with their position in society and don't care about what my family believes in.


Vk 4 years ago

There is no point in talking about this but what's the harm?

We need to clearly understand the rituals (requires studying our texts), this being quite remote today it is only obvious that many of today's so called religious practices hardly existed back then. Sati is a good example. It evolved during the moghul rule but is attribute to the ancient period which i find stupid. Not to mention the total lack of evidence so its not a hindu practice. One question maybe as to whether dowry was indeed part of our tradition and if yes what was it? I am pretty sure that in a country where a woman is revered to a great extent no practice would be around to exploit her. But nobody is interested in the true indian ways they are busy running behind money .. My advice would be if you are inclined to wards religion go read for yourself don't listen to the so called sadhus (no offense). Else just let go of all Indian ways and become completely western(i do have to warn you that the western religions are full of crap like this, but they too must be falsification of what these religions truly were... After all religion must help you ascend and not descend) Adieu!


c. kent 4 years ago

Its true! in the modern day even in the North indian Culture, we still suffer under the modern dowry system and its usually along the lines of someone from the boys side of the family stating these words "Humari izzat rakhna" which means "All we ask if you keep our respect" which means they expect hard cash/gold in the form of gifts..if that isn't dowry what is? Why should something like this have to be asked or expected in this day and age. Its disturbing because as a graduate indian woman myself, I am tempted to get involved and to scream in outrage between my two families but apparently i mustn't get involved but if I dont, who will?


future IPS....... 4 years ago

THE Abolishing dowry system is in the hands of youth mainly IN THE HANDS OF GIRLS. u can abolish it


athena 5 years ago

thank you for this information. it helps a lot.


Afghjk 5 years ago

I think the dowry system should stay as it is our culture and we shouldn't get rid of it fast. The problem is people are taking advantage of dowry and asking for crazy things. What dowry is, is a gift from the girl's side to the boy's side. It still goes on in Punjab and there are no problems but it seems its in the poorer families and regions where the problems are. They demand things that most people with their socio-economic status can't afford such as a car. That's when the problems start. Not sure how it is in other states, but in Punjab the women on the groom's side are supposed to give expensive jewellry to the bride to wear.


ehk 5 years ago

yes,you are lucky that your husband and his family understood. Not only jewellery for going to my mother's house,i have to ask permission from my mother-in-law and then husband. Still women in india are suffering from dowry and they are not treating women as humans.


Ayesha08 profile image

Ayesha08 5 years ago from Saudi Arabia

Thanks for sharing your story ... Glad to know that you had the courage to stand against cruelty.....


cookingdiva 5 years ago

I can imagine your frustration with dowry system. I hope times are changing and seems like your husband is understanding, which is good.


divacratus profile image

divacratus 5 years ago from India Author

@drbj - Thank you :) Not only me, all modern girls are taking a strict action against dowry system nowadays. In fact, some time ago a girl reported to police authorities about such a case which led to the imprisonment of the dowry askers.

@Venugopal - I understand how you would feel about such a situation because I believe you are from the older generation. I respect your thoughts and views but it is not just me alone who is trying to change the tradition. People are becoming more knowledgeable which is the reason why the courts have declared the dowry system as criminal. I love my custom and traditions but just abhor some others -- including the dowry system. I would like an India were both men and women are considered as equally important. Not an India where it's considered a headache to raise a girl child thinking of how much jewelry you have to give away as dowry.


VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA profile image

VENUGOPAL SIVAGNA 5 years ago from India.

India's customs and traditions cannot be changed... It has lived more than million years... Greeks, Muslims, Turks, Christians came and ruled us. But our tradition remains the same. They have tried to change, but failed. Now, one affected girl cannot change the whole tradition because she is affected. It is also our tradition to look after women as "Amma" and "Goddess". Ill-treatment to a women is ill treating our own mother (Amma) and goddesses. Likewise, any attempt to change the system by anyone is like breaking the tradition of honouring women. Both are equal. Mrs.Ayyar should be happy that she is leading a traditonal life and her husband's people should understand the value of women. Women are the real custodians of Indian traditon, customs and civilization.


drbj profile image

drbj 5 years ago from south Florida

Yes, the dowry system appears to be unfair as well as archaic but you may be swimming against the stream, divacratus, in trying to abolish it. I salute you however, for your realistic attitude.

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