The Dowry Syndrome

“What do you think about this sofa set dear? It will not only look good in your husband’s home, it will also tell your in-laws about out standard”.

“How much more stuff do you have to buy? I am already under a lot of debt?”

“My son has always had the dream to drive a brand new car. Now you would want your daughter to be happy in her home with her husband?”

These are some of the statements heard before the commencement of any marriage ceremony. And these are some of the decent ones. Things tend to turn really bad when even slight hesitance is shown by the girl’s parents on the matter of the much discussed topic – the dowry. If the demand of the girl’s to be in-laws aren’t met, the girl can very well expect to stay single, for the guy’s parents consider it their birth right to degrade the girl and her family and call off the marriage at any time.

A marriage ceremony can easily turn into a mourning if the groom or the groom’s family suddenly decide that the dowry being given to the bride is not enough, or lacks some very vital element (like a car), or does not comply with their standards, and call off the marriage. A worse scenario happens when the groom’s family discovers their discontent on dowry after the marriage and makes the bride’s life a living hell; maybe lead her to a supposedly accidental death.

Then there are those who are totally against the dowry system. They consider it to be the guy’s responsibility to arrange for the necessities of life before going on to search for his better half. Considering today’s world, the list of basic necessities is very long… furniture, home appliances, car, a handsome bank balance and the list goes on. Now that I read it, it is the same as the one given to the bride’s parents for the dowry.

Marriage takes the last place on the list of the guy’s priorities. When he starts his career at the age of 22, 23, with a starting salary in the range of 8K – 15K, he needs a lifetime to earn enough to arrange for the necessities of life, given the inflation situation in the country. In our society, the guys have many responsibilities on their shoulders, and once they start earning, it is implicitly understood the he will help his parents in the financial struggle of life. He will have to contribute towards the various expenses in the house. With all his responsibilities, he won’t be able to arrange for all the material things required to start a happy life with his wife any time soon. When he does get established (the kind who is able to afford the luxuries of life initially listed down in the dowry), somewhere around the age of 45 – 50, he will have spent most of his prime years earning. At this age he may find a wife but the couple would not be able to enjoy matrimonial bliss for long, as medical science proves that average age of humans has reduced.

There should be some other solution between these two extremes. Neither the guy’s nor the girl’s parents should be burdened. Consider one thing for a moment. Who arranges the dowry? The girl’s parents. Who is supposed to use it? The newly married couple. Who generally uses it? The bride’s in-laws. So if the girl’s parents can go out of the way to arrange for a handsome dowry for the girl and her happiness, why can’t the guy’s parents step up to share the burden for their son? The bride’s parents start arranging for the dowry the day the girl is born because one day she has to get married. The guy has to get married too, so why can’t his parents start worrying about his marriage the day he is born?

If both the families share the burden of arranging the basic necessities and the necessary luxuries of life for the new couple, the couple will not only be gratified, both of them will share the responsibility of taking care of the gifts endowed to them by their loving parents. The in-laws will take more care in using those things, since they will also have put their financial share in arranging the stuff. Such efforts will help get rid of the dowry system that hangs like a sword on parent’s heads in our society and is a major cause of frustrations for not only the parents but the girls and guys too. Happy wedding!


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