Sunday, July 22, 2018

Say No To Dowry

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From invoking loud chants to seven divine circuits of the holy fire, marriage is an inception of blushing emotions. If this is true then why does the holy fire turn into a burning pyre?

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,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 companionship or 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?

Also, 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?

Finally, 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 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 may be 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.

About the Writer

Barkha Dhar is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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8 comments on Say No To Dowry

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By Theresa H Hall on September 03, 2010 at 04:50 pm

When the right to harm another in this manner is taken away, revoked and deemed punishable by the same exact death, then perhaps most, if not all, of these dowry crimes will cease. When a bride that has no real say or power in her marriage, is suddenly the mother of a son, when did she become so powerful? I have heard it said that many, many times, the mother-in-law is the corrupt person egging her son to divorce his bride or having him punish her for any reason whatsoever. Why is a religion then to blame for these people's hate, greed and yes ... jealousy?

Do away with dowry completely. Practice your religions in truth and honesty, for no religion was ever set up or intended to be misused by men or women. It is when people twist the rules or perceptions of those rules in their favor.

It is the same as anyone who decides that the rules don't apply to them. They are above the rules.

Abuse is wicked and those who are abusive to others choose to act in a shameful way. So, if Dowry is the flushing of the bride's family for monetary gain, and the mistreatment falls on the heads of the bride's husband and his immediate family, I relate the word Dowry as extortion and a venue for a possible future hate crime.

Women need freedom and if the shackles of religious beliefs keep them from their freedom then I say, "Girls run away as fast as your feet will carry you. Change to another non-violent religion. Find another man and do not agree to be bargained off. Not even by a father who loves you. Just say no."

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By SZU on September 04, 2010 at 10:04 am


Coming from Pakistan I can totally relate to what you have written. I don't know much about other places of the world but for sure India and Pakistan are still under the clutches of this curse called dowry. Things are changing in the cities, but the pace is almost negligible. We need to eradicate it from its roots, that will only come with educating the people.

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By Jack Bates on September 04, 2010 at 10:39 am

SZU is right, education is the only way this will stop. Educating young girls and women in India that there are other ways to live.

Remember womens' sufferage in the US took decades and the lives of many women, but in the end right won out.

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By ShilaGrandhi on September 04, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Thanks for your great article and I wish this to be an "eye opener" for dowry seekers. has been fighting to build a dowry free marriages. I coul see only 12,500 members there . This is really strange. More and More people come forward to say "No to Dowry"

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By ShilaGrandhi on September 04, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Thanks for your great article and I wish this to be an "eye opener" for dowry seekers. have been fighting to build a dowry free marriages. I coul see only 12,500 members there . This is really strange. More and More people come forward to say "No to Dowry"

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By Barkha Dhar on September 16, 2010 at 09:55 pm

Thank you Ladies & Thank you Jack

I truly admire your words that are like voices. Each voice is then like a thought that has the power to lead actions and influence million lives with strands of change. Sadly, dowry is one string that has anguish attached. Its blue funk each day affects the possibilities for a happy and healthy relationships between families, between spouses and with In-laws. For most, dowry has turned marriages into a barter that confiscates someone's pride for pennies. I only wish that those pennies had that much power to procreate happiness and buy satisfaction. I only wish!

With Love

Barkha Dhar

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By Theresa H Hall on September 16, 2010 at 10:04 pm

We could start a "DOWN WITH DOWRYS!" or "NO MORE DOWRYS! or "STOP BARTERING YOUR CHILDREN!" campaigns. T-shirts, banners, BloggersUnite Event.

Organize it and I'll sign up and buy a T-Shirt.

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By Barkha Dhar on September 25, 2010 at 09:46 am

Hey Theresa,

That seems like an excellent suggestion!



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