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 the dowry system in India should be abolished and done away with - completely. The hardcore 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 the dowry system.
How can India do away with the 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 was 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. Additionally, 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.
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 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) 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.
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!