“Is it possible that some women secretly want a dowry – perhaps to enhance their social standing?”

Sharing an email.

Hi IHM,

I have a question that has been bothering me for some time now and was wondering what you or your readers thought of this.

There are several girls who leave for the US to pursue their higher studies. Most often they find their life partner on campus (my question pertains to the ladies who fall in love with Indian boys on campus) and once they get jobs come back to India for their marriage (to their boyfriends).

So far so good – but I have noticed that this is where dowry comes in. The boys side have expectations and sometimes demand dowry. And my biggest concern is that it is fulfilled by the bride’s side. I am unable to understand how the bride can agree to this – after the education, exposure and understanding her life partner.
Where is the fault here and who should be corrected? If education and independence still do not encourage women to stand up against dowry, what else will?

It would be interesting to hear your take on this when you get some time.

When I discuss with my friends the answer always comes down to ‘different people have different circumstances so do not judge without getting into their shoes’.
But it still troubles me because I thought that a good education is the key to getting rid of dowry. But it is slowly dawning on me that it is not…
Is it possible that some women secretly want a dowry – perhaps to enhance their social standing? Surely no one wants to suck their parents dry for dowry? In my experience I have not met any – or are they hiding that desire? I think regardless of being a boy or girl – once we are able to fend for ourselves we need to stop looking to our parents for money.

Or perhaps it is the fear of not finding a husband – but if that fear remains despite having a job and being independent – then what more is needed to rid women of that fear?

Both these reasons I can think of seem quite depressing because they seem to have something to do with centuries of conditioning and shaping how women should think and act …

IHM: Dowry is probably seen as a small compromise? But is it really a small compromise? Doesn’t giving of dowry convey a tolerance for unfair terms,  and even a desperation to get married and stay married? Can dowry ensure happiness and security for a girl?

Like the email writer, I too wonder if marriage (and providing male heirs to carry forward the husband’s family name) was not seen as the main goal in an Indian woman’s lives, maybe they (and their parents) would be able to stand up for their beliefs, not just while dealing with dowry demands, but also some of the issues discussed in the previous few posts? [link1, link2, link3]

(Because then marriageable age and the  biological clock would not be seen as looming deadlines.)

And if some women feel dowry makes the in-laws like them better, would you really blame them? After all, Indian women are raised to beitni padhi likhi par sanskari bahu’. (educated but tradition-abiding daughters in law)

Do you believe some women might believe that dowry enhances their social standing?

Related Posts:

Can Dowry be compared to Inheritance?

138 thoughts on ““Is it possible that some women secretly want a dowry – perhaps to enhance their social standing?”

  1. Probably yes. I have seen a friend of mine who was very happy that her father is shelling out a huge amount of money to get her married to that IITian who had just finished MBA from one of the top Indian Business schools. She saw no wrong in it and was very pleased that her father is doing this for her.

    I was shocked to see this otherwise rational being turn into someone else once her marriage discussions started. She went from a confident, independent girl to a woman ready to be pushed around by her in-laws. She was a pretty girl with nice features, software engineer at one of the biggest firms in our country and qualified for the tall,slim… all the typical arranged marriage qualifications(what I mean to say here is she was not short of options) and yet she resorted to dowry to make herself look good in her ILs books.

    It was a revelation for me who thought educated,self-sufficient girls of my generation are against dowry and we are going to change things for better. Sadly, this wasn’t the only experience of it’s kind, it was just the beginning.

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  2. Nope. I think it’s more like social, emotional ransom affected to ensure security. of what, don’t ask, I think the whole premise behind arranged marriages done in the conventional, traditional sense, is an insult to dignity of everyone involved. At worst, i may call it a butcher’s market. Who said that education of the mind without the education of the heart is no education at all… or something to that effect..? You can dispense education i.e. information and call it knowledge, but how can you dispense values, culture, good compassionate nature? These women are as much a victim of disinformation and misinformation as are her would-be in-laws, or her parents even who think of dowry as a way to respect traditions or earn social standing. The idea of “monetizing” values is inevitably doomed to fail. The problem is, when it does, it’s only one party that suffers. The onus is on women/girls/parents of girls to think long and hard before succumbing to mindless and cruel traditions.

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    • I think exchange of money transforms marriage into a business arrangement where you use money to purchase a man.

      If we are going to be a dowry-loving society, then let’s dispense with the pretense and hypocrisy surrounding marriage in India.

      My best friend married a man whose parents asked for hard cash during the wedding ceremony. While most of it was used to finance the wedding reception and buy bridal jewellery, my friend still feels cheated in some inexpressible way.

      She sometimes reminds her husband of the cash transfer when they’re having a fight. I cannot imagine marrying a man knowing that I paid for the right.

      And the men? How does it feel to sleep with somebody whom you took money from? What’s it called when the gender is reversed? I don’t see how it’s different from prostitution.

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  3. The only change that has happened is that young people are selecting their partners. Nothing else has changed. The wedding will be an arranged one with families from both sides meeting and deciding how and where the wedding should be conducted. The rituals remain the same (in fact more have been added after Sooraj Barjatiya has shown how beautiful the different elaborate rituals can look and feel). Dowry still exists in many communities. It can go into many lakhs (not including the wedding expenses) which is generally the responsibility of the girl’s parents. When the girl gets married and goes to stay with her husband (and his people??), she also gets to meet the other “bahus” of the family. Comparisons are made about who brought maximum dowry and preferential treatment is meted out to them. Under these circumstances the girl whose parents have given less dowry than the other “bahus” feels an inferiority complex. To increase her status in her marital home and not be looked down upon, she too welcomes the dowry. The whole system sucks!

    An Indian boy is a pawn in the hands of his family and will not dare to question his parents….after all they have given birth to him, brought him up and spent all their life’s earnings on educating him. Is it not his turn to reciprocate? And reciprocate he does. How? By doing what they want. How can he be the “black sheep” of the family? How can he be ungrateful?

    His mother is also getting old and she needs someone young who can shoulder all the responsibility of keeping house, cooking, cleaning and taking care of everyone’s needs. She also needs a good “maalish” everyday to appease her aching muscles. And it is a “bahu’s duty to take care of everyone.

    Right? No, WRONG! But this is the truth. It is rare to find families that are progressive, who respect other’s space and show some respect to their son and treat him like an adult.

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  4. I have always wondered about this too. Do not know why but women are keepers of this practice.. It is not because it is advantageous to them, but more because they do not want to do anything that challenges the system. How else can you explain a doctor woman’s parents paying high for a doctor-future-groom ? Or so many women( for example, nurses from Kerala) who work hard often abroad to make their own marriage money? Situation states itself that those women have sufficient financial independence, but struggle to make a point about choosing a man who does not ask for dowry.
    I can only blame this on their upbringing as meek and pretty ones.
    http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/pity-the-broiler-wife/article317943.ece

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    • So true!
      I once met a man who told me that men must ask for at least a nominal dowry or else the girls family might think there is something lacking in him which makes him offer himself for free.
      Regards
      GV

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  5. I’m not understanding how paying dowry increases one’s social standing.
    Sounds demeaning to me, like I’m so deficient as a potential bride I need to bribe a groom to marry me.
    I don’t know, if my parents offered to pay dowry to my new ‘in laws to be’ I’d demand the $$ to be put in a bank account with my name on it & I’ll dole it out to whomever whenever I see fit.

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  6. dowry is just a manifestation, the root problem for me is inheritence. every son is entitled to inheritance while a daughter is not given any by law, unless the parents intentionally put it down in the form of a will. it is the reason daughters are seen as ‘paraya dhan’ rather than care takers of the family in the future. i know i am over-simplifying here, but if women were to be given equal share of the inheritance as the brothers, the paternalistic ways of the society would change…

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    • I thought the 2005 amendment to the Succession Act made it so both male and female heirs of intestate persons would receive a share. I see though, that there is nothing compelling parents during the writing of a will to do so. But that is true everywhere, is it not? People are free to choose who they give their property to.

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        • i feel the concept of inheritance should actually never exist.. properties done by the parents should be entitled only to the parents and never reach the sons/daughters.. this would ensure the kids think and plan their own lives independently. tht would solve most of the problems here…

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      • But when it is ancestral property which parents have not earned on their own has to be divided equally between parents. Whatever they have earned themselves they should be free to give to whosoever.

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        • Yes, but the law cannot dictate what people write in their wills. It can only step in to ensure proper division if there is no will. Ideally, yes, ancestral property should be divided between heirs.

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    • I was watching an interview of a ‘famous personality’ ( it may have been Kiran Bedi) who said women would often get angry with her for her anti-dowry stance. They often felt that no dowry indirectly amounted to everything going to their brothers.

      In my own family, that’s what’s happened. My grandfather was ahead of his times and insisted on not paying dowry for his daughter’s weddings. He unfortunately died unxpectedly and all his property was taken over by the sole son. Of course the sisters (including my mother) have legal options but they are too nice to do anything about it, even though they were/are hurt by the brazeness of their brother.

      This however,is not a defense of dowry (which is reprehensible). As js says, the root issue has always been that of inheritance.

      As long as women feel they will be screwed out of their rightful inheritance solely because of their gender, they will continue to ‘expect’ parents paying for their wedding and ‘trousseau’ which I believe is the new euphemism for things-that-bride’s-parents-shouldn’t-really-be-paying-for-but-do-anyway.

      I do see cases of extreme entitlement amongst brides these days and it’s disgusting they way they treat the wedding as an excuse to get their parents to spend .On the other hand, if they have brothers and are from families where gender equality is less than ideal, it seems like a strange payoff that everyone’s resigned to.Sigh.

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      • So, if a woman who is working for a corporate sector , and is earning more than enough, feels that she should get her share of inheritance, and demands it in the guise of dowry, she is as bad as the son who shamelessly goes after all the money of the parents after their death, without sharing it with his female siblings.Is it ok for either son or daughter to feel that they are entitled towards money that they havent earned, just by virtue of being born to two people who earned it?
        A friend of mine says – Parents need not bother hoarding money for their children.Because, if the child grows up to be a black sheep, he will just waste all the hard earned money.On the other hand, if the child grows up to be a responsible adult, then he or she will not take money from the parents, because they will beleive in hardwork and self sufficiency.
        In the end, parents can spend on children until they are old enough to look after themselves, and not beyond. Once the kid starts earning, the parents can use money left in their bank account as they please.
        Much like it happens in the west.

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        • I think the women who think that dowry is a stand-in for inheritance are hardly going to be working in the corporate sector.
          My aunts who would think this way are housewives who received some gold jewellery at the time of their wedding and nothing else from their parents, ever.
          And this division was considered fair by them at the time.

          For women like them, the ‘no dowry’ stance literally leaves them with zero inheritance. The solution,obviously, is to equip women to fight for their rightful inheritance, NOT to revive dowry🙂

          And women of our generation have to be intelligent and compassionate enough to make sure wedding expenditures (if parents are bearing the cost) remain reasonable, even contributing, if that’s something they can afford to do. This in turn will stop the ‘daughters are a burden’ train of thought, and also give them a moral right to assert their claims to rightful inheritance later on.

          I feel all along , men have used their traditional roles as caretakers of their elderly parents to establish their claim to family property. I guess it’s time for earning women to do this to. It’s hardly graceful to claim equal property rights if you lived by the ‘I’m a daughter and have zero financial responsibility towards my parents’ dogma your whole life.
          The demand for equal treatment has to be supplemented by actions which state that you yourself believe that you are truly equal.
          Too many women treat their careers as supplementary income , and their roles as daughters as excuses to be free of responsibility towards their own parents (and yes, I’m aware that they end up taking care of the parents-in-law)- these are individual actions for sure, but collectively they do result in a society where it literally makes more sense to have a son. That’s dangerous, and in the end, only women can step up and show why this need not be the case.Women have to believe that they are equal, and that involves letting go of some (paradoxical) ‘advantages’ that come with being unequal.

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    • Not true. The law has been amended a few years ago. Hindu women have the same inheritance rights as do men. I don’t know how minorities fare wrt to this.

      Moreover, a man has unqualified rights over his inheritance. A dowry is transferred from a woman’s family to the man’s. The woman has no control over it whatsoever.

      Dowry isn’t about inhetitance, it’s about insatiable greed and the low status of of Indian women.

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      • “Dowry isn’t about inheritance”.
        Well, that’s NOT how it’s been presented to Indian women over the centuries. The inheritance law aside (which does nothing to change ground realities IMHO), this is what *many* Indian women hear from their parents-
        ‘You will not inherit our property because we gave you your share at the time of your wedding.’

        Yes I know that that share often is not directly controlled by the women but it doesn’t change the fact that dowry is bound up with notions of inheritance.

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        • I agree. However, the daughters of such parents have to then ensure that streedhan is indeed controlled by them.

          In fact, the law says that all ornaments given to the woman at the time of marriage belong solely to her. This even includes ornaments put on her during “mooh dikhai” and those gifted by the groom’s family.

          With regards to daughters not caring for their parents, many are prevented from doing so by their husband’s families. First women have to insist on and win the right to offer care to their aging parents.

          For this Indian marriage customs have to evolve and become less man- centric

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  7. I fully agree with the title of this post.

    I am now 72. So, far, I have not come across a single Indian woman, including my daughters, who disdains dowry. Even when they fully know the financial position of their poor parents, yet, they by nature, yearn, and at times pass unkindly remarks at their parents, especially targeting their father, for their inability to give their future husbands a dowry. They conveniently forget the hardships their parents had undergone for raising them and giving them a decent education.

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        • And this, really, is the problem – the idea of “status”. I read somewhere that in lower caste/class communities the typical practice was of “bride price”. You would think that this would please the women but it turns out they saw the practice as deeply humiliating. They thought of “bride price” as being “bought”. On the other hand, many such women longed to be of the status of women who were married with dowry. Dowry was seen as being sent off with honour by one’s parents. Do you think that as more and more people have disposable income, and consumerism is king, the idea of “status” is increasing, not decreasing, hence dowry is only going to keep appearing under different names “gifts” “nazar”, etc.? Across classes and castes.

          Sigh! You would think that this whole idea of “status” and being “bought” would be replaced by the idea that the two people in the marriage would go and get jobs in a booming economy and be done with it. But clearly, sometimes women are their own worst enemies.

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        • True… I have seen women who proudly believe their status in their husband’s family is high because they came with a huge dowry!

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        • Indian women are raised to be approval seekers. Good women are required to worry about care for what people think of their clothes, social life, hair cut, cooking skills, careers, who and when they love, live-with or marry or have children with. Protecting family honor and name is also about ‘what would people say’.

          Indian parents also claim they have to respect peer pressure i.e. opinion and wishes of extended family, community and the neighbor’s cousin’s best friend’s grand uncle – even it that makes their children miserable, because ‘we live in society’.

          So some women may want random acquaintances to approve of their dowry and see that approval as ‘status enhancement’.

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    • Not a single one? That’s a shame and one wonders why it would be. I can assure you there are lots of women out there who are against dowry for themselves. I, for one, would have walked out of the marriage pandal if my parents offered dowry or paid for the whole thing.. and I told them that since I was 12. Neither of those things happened in my wedding and there was no drama either, I would never marry into a family that thought either of those ‘customs’ was acceptable. I know other friends and my own sister who would have done/ would do the same.

      ” Even when they fully know the financial position of their poor parents, yet, they by nature, yearn, and at times pass unkindly remarks at their parents, especially targeting their father, for their inability to give their future husbands a dowry. ”

      I am genuinely surprised by this and I don’t know a single woman who would do that. Maybe I live in my own bubble but I genuinely honestly don’t know anyone like this and am shocked that any educated person would act like this. I have no doubt that there are mean selfish women out there but if this is a trend then I wonder what role the upbringing plays. Are they educated and independent or taught that marriage is their only aim in life as a woman? Could that be causing such behaviour?

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      • Carvaka. A friend told me proudly that her father had spent 50 lakhs on her wedding. She saw my shocked expression, realised that I didn’t see her in a very flattering light and added hastily, “He wanted to, I didn’t have a choice. I didn’t want to break his heart. ”

        I think one’s attitude to dowry is shaped by the community one is born in.

        Dowry has always shockef me, but then I come from a community where weddings were historically simple affairs.

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    • That really is disheartening, like Carvaka says.

      When I first heard of the ‘custom’ of the bride’s family paying for the wedding as a young girl, I remember being so disgusted. My first question was, “Are not TWO people getting married? Why should any one of them (or their family) have to bear the burden of the ceremony?”

      A female cousin is about to get married soon, and both she and her fiancé are employed in fairly good positions. I heard recently that her parents are paying for the whole thing. My first question was why the bride and groom couldn’t pay for their own engagement ceremony and wedding. I mean, they are independent adults, wishing to start their life together. Why should their parents have to shell out thousands of dollars for one day of their life? Finding out that my cousin’s parents will be paying for both ceremonies was the final nail in the coffin. I was so angry – this is an independent, intelligent, and well-educated young woman who is capable of standing up for herself. Why then, would she allow her parents to bear all the costs? I was immediately silenced by comments like, “You don’t know what it’s like in India”, and, “You’re thoughts are different because you live here (Canada)”, etc. My only response was, it really doesn’t matter where I live. I expect working adults to pay for their own expenses, and that includes a wedding. If their parents WANT to and CAN afford to HELP them, good for both parties. But there should be no obligation that they pay, and certainly no obligation that the bride’s parents pay for EVERYTHING.

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    • you’d have to meet me then, ma’am. And i know many others like myself. I did not give a single penny to my in-laws. nor did my parents. My parents and I split the cost of the wedding 50-50 because they wanted to “do their duty”. My hubby never even asked for a writing pen from us. And I gifted my mom and my sis a couple of luxury items as a token of my gratitude. Post wedding, my folks have never had to send gifts to my in-laws. I have strictly forbidden them from setting any such precedent. Luckily for me in that area, my in-laws have never demanded anything, perhaps largely because they fear their son in this matter. We both feel a little awkward when either of our parents visit and gift us token amounts of money. As for gifts during the wedding, it was one item of clothing be it a suit or a sari to my MIL, FIL, and BIL. that was it. no gold. end of story. My parents paid for my education and brought me up with love and care. it’s my job to look after myself when I am grown up. IF i am grown up, which by the way, few people are. My parents brought me up to believe that if something hasn’t come from your own investment of time, effort, ability, it is not worth having.

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  8. It simply shows lack of spine by both the boy and the girl.
    Both are educated and both work ( inthis scenario met at a campus abroad) both know they can survive without anyone else, and they love each other. I wonder what happens to the love when the parents oppose the union?
    An acquaintance ‘s son went abroad , fell in love and his mom said she could accept the girl if they followed all customs of their family and did the wedding in their way, with full honors i suppose. the boy spelled it out for the girl .I know this boy from when he was a child and i was ashamed of his spineless ness. The girl loved him and if she wanted to get married had to do it their way since he was not ready to disagree with his mom since he felt his mom agreed with min tamasha. the girl refused to have her dad pay for the whole shindig and said she didn’t need a huge wedding and a small ceremony and reception would do and if his family wanted it they had to pay. big drama ensured and she walked out of the relationship and went after a couple yrs married an american , he’s still single and they are looking, last time i met him he acknowledged his mistake but apparently she was too rigid to forgive him😦 and moved away.. such a sad story. all beacuse of the ego of the boys mom???
    so it’s not that they like dowry , maybe they want to be married to the fella beyond all reason? , i dont know. i understand going against the world and getting married i don’t understand asking your parents to fork over money to get married, that somehow brings the whole concept of love down a notch doesn’t it???

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    • I agree. I don’t really think it’s not about raising their status in the marital home.. I have never personally met a woman that didn’t chafe at the gifts and dowry etc that their family have to provide the ladke-walas (although I’m sure they exist too). I think this is about being spineless.. and ‘adjusting’ in order to get married.

      “they want to be married to the fella beyond all reason?”

      Exactly this. I know a woman who had a ‘love marriage’ and compelled her parents to give them a car so they would let her marry their son. The guy offered to help them pay for the car, just as long as they kept his father’s ‘izzat’ by complying to his demands. The aim of ‘getting to marry him’ was so important that any price or compromise was fine for her. Utterly ridiculous and regrettable of-course and she is now facing much harassment in her joint family because the demands never stop at the dowry.

      I feel like being able to marry by your choice is so difficult and such a mission (see any bollywood movie), that people think it’s worth doing whatever it takes just to get there. They don’t actually realise that the wedding is not the end-goal, it’s the beginning. I personally think education will eventually help and so will de-hyping choice marriage or even marriage. It is not the be all and end all. Currently, even educated women get the opposite message from society, even from their own families.

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      • “being able to marry by your choice is so difficult and such a mission (see any bollywood movie), that people think it’s worth doing whatever it takes just to get there. They don’t actually realise that the wedding is not the end-goal, it’s the beginning” – so true!!!

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    • I wish more women could think like her! I personally told my parents that I would walk out at any point if the words gifts or dowry were mentioned.

      A lot of times parents are willing to do anything they think will assure future happiness for their daughter. Sadly, very few people realize that dowry is just a symptom of the culture of the other family. Any culture that puts such immense value on money, status, and pride is probably not one you should associate yourself with…

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  9. Briefly:
    True Story.
    Happened in a family very closely related to me.
    Two sisters, “Elder” and “Younger”.
    Elder’s marriage was being negotiated.
    After it was settled, “Younger” questioned her parents and asked for details of everything they had agreed upon.
    Two years later, it was Younger’s turn to get married.
    She brought out her diary where she had noted down all items of jewellery, dowry, household articles, vessels etc given to “Elder” and showed it to her parents and insisted that everything given to “Elder” be given to her too!
    The boy was a decent fellow. His family didn’t ask for a thing!
    Regards
    GV

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      • An interesting point you made there. Perhaps girls and their parents see dowry as an alternative to inheritance and as a right of the girl getting married. In any case, since it is done voluntarily, it is absurd to make dowry illegal.

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      • Yes, I agree with your assessment.
        It’s obvious the younger daughter was not trying to “enhance her social standing”.

        But she did not show the same meticulousness in recording all that her elder sister had done for the family both before and after her marriage. I know that the elder daughter had earned for a few years before marriage. She helped settle her youngest brother. She was also a pillar of support to her parents in later years.

        It’s a sad fact. Dowry has support from some sections of our female population as well.
        Regards
        GV

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    • Disgusting,
      As a parent i accept that i choose to have my children, they did not ask to get born, and so i will provide a good education, healthy food, shelter and plenty of love and happiness beyond that Nothing, if i choose to give one child something over the other it’s my choice ( an di doubt many parents would do it) . It’s a privilege not a right.
      If one of my daughter questioned us this way I’m pretty sure me and my spouse would read her the riot act.

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    • I know a very similar story of sisters behaving the same way. Most cases, the way the MIL treats the DIL depends on the riches they get from parents. In case of more than one DIL, things can get mean with comparison ranging from the how lavishly (or not) the wedding was done, how expensive the return gifts were to how the boy’s side was treated (note that even a puny little 10 year old kid can demand things in certain cases in the groom’s side) and what kind of a scooter (guess these days it’s car) the groom gets to show off. May be the women don’t want to be treated shabbily in their in-laws’ house and they believe the dowry garners some respect and good treatment upfront?

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  10. i pity those poor girls who got a degree but learnt nothing through their education. DH and i go educated abroad and went super radical in terms of ‘indian weddings’. given that i was always different DH decided to try my ‘parents shouldnot have to take care of us after grad route’. we both took our 2nd choice uni since it offered us full scholarship instead of taking the top school which we would have to borrow money from our parents. after post grad we got jobs immediately decided to do court marriage. it helps that neither of us are very fond of shiny clothes or long ceremony. instead we stood in the registrars office held hands and said our wedding vows which we thought was romantic. are our parents happy? no. mine have as they call it given in to their jamais wishes. his are seething that inspite of producing one son after 4 daughters they have been robbed of their right to dowry! DH doesnt care. we managed our wedding as we could afford it and the way we liked it. did we not have money to fund a grand wedding? we did. we instead choose to save it and make a downpayment on our own home🙂

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  11. Recently 2 friends of mine got married and I know them very well. Both the girl and guy wanted to spend together from their savings for their wedding, but the girl’s father insisted on taking up the whole cost of the wedding and reception and spent money like anything. When I asked my friend about this, she said he was not ready to listen to them and said that spending so much money for his daughter’s wedding would make him happy.
    I have seen some girls stand strong when it comes to dowry and big weddings. In my own wedding, my parents did not want a big wedding and wanted a court marriage (since they do not believe in big weddings), whereas my husband’s family wanted a big wedding since he was their only son and some other reasons that did not make sense to me! So, my in laws decided to bear the cost of the whole wedding, since they wanted it that big, and my parents threw a small reception from their side in my hometown. This arrangement totally made sense to me as each party spent howmuchever they were comfortable with without any pressure on each other.
    I think parents need to impress on their children that they would not be a part of inheritance just because they are entitled to. The parents can do whatever they want with their money. Spend it, donate it, start a scholarship with it. I think most children might be thinking that just because they are our parents, their money is our money…which is not true.
    My mom has made it clear to both me and my sister long back that we need to be financially independent and learn to fend for ourselves. And that she will decide what she wants to do with her hard earned money. Makes total sense to me and I think I will be doing the same for my kids when I have them!

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    • Kudos to your mom! My parents have instilled this sense of independence in my sister and me as well. We paid for our own weddings (splitting costs with the grooms) and we urge our parents to enjoy their retirement in comfort without bothering about saving for us. They gave us the tools (good education, good values) to stand on our own feet – it is up to us to use those tools to build financial security for ourselves.

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        • I think it happens more often when you read this blog on small screens like that on a tablet or a smart phone. Many of us have fat thumbs, the thumb icons are located too close on the screen and the problem is compounded by poor aim! It has happened to me too, when I used my Ipad or Samsung Galaxy Note, but never when I used my laptop.

          I hope WordPress will someday realize this and put some distance between the the two icons. Ideally the like symbol should be at the left end of the box and the Dislike icon could be at the extreme right end of the box.

          Regards
          GV

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        • Yes, the first time this happened, I dutifully wrote a comment about the mistake.The second time, I did not, and just slapped my forehead.From thenon, I just zoom (on Tablet), and carefully tap the thumbs up.It is a pain though, each time I want to give a thumbs up, Zooming in, and then zooming out to read text!

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  12. I believe this question definitely pertains to my situation. Me and my husband did our masters in the US and went back to get married. Our parents knew each other from a long time (though not closely), our castes were slightly different, but there was no opposition as such.
    In either families, there is no concept of dowry. However, the entire expenditure of the wedding is borne by the bride’s parents. However, in my caste, if it’s a love marriage, it’s common to split the wedding cost. So, my parents hoped of splitting the cost. His parents were furious at that request. Both sets of parents had moved back to their home cities from the small town me and my husband grew in. So, the location of the wedding was a point of contention too. My MIL gave the option to my parents, “The wedding cost is borne by the girl’s family. The wedding could be in my city or your city. I think it should be in my city because if it’s in your city, you will have to spend on the travel, accommodation and eating costs of 50 of our relatives. So, my city will be cheaper for you”.

    Eventually, my in-laws agreed to do a 50-50 cost split where his parents lived. But they were not sure whether they would know if it would be an actual ’50-50 split’. My husband’s family intended to call 1000 people and my family would be 10 people (that were willing to travel). I categorically told my parents that they should spend according to their wishes only in the city they live in in order to be fair. My mom didn’t want to do this because she felt my MIL would hurt me in one way or another and cause a rift between me and my husband. I convinced her otherwise. My husband supported me on this and convinced his parents that he wants to have the wedding in front of his grandparents’ eyes in the city they lived in. They complied. The wedding was in his city, the reception in mine.

    Effect?

    I had to hear the taunts of my MIL for the next year. I had a baby soon after marriage and she came over to help. She convinced my husband that her suggested method was fair. The bride’s family bears the wedding cost, the groom’s family bears the “baarat” cost, the bride’s family does the seemant-poojan, the groom’s family does the vyaahi-bhojan. But with what happened, the entire expenses had to be borne by them. So, what happened was unfair. She accused my parents of not doing their duty of “kanyadaan”. She gave her own example saying how much her parents cared for her and her sisters and how they spent on their wedding in spite of not being so rich. I started responding to her taunts and we had several big fights, that she never expected. She even used to talk about my lack of house-keeping skills to my husband. (I do suck at that, by the way.) Things piled up one on top of the other especially with having a baby and there was a rift between me and my husband, that took us time to get over with.

    Then it was my brother-in-law’s turn to get married. My sis-in-laws parents though initially took 3 years to say ‘yes’ to their wedding, but bore the wedding costs in their own city and my in-laws were impressed.

    So, my MIL taunted during their wedding that people from my sis-in-laws’ city are more cultured than from mine. My SIL obviously had easier time than me. When I told my mom about this, she said, “Do you agree we should have split the wedding cost in their city with them?” I still couldn’t agree.

    Today, my MIL thinks twice before taunting me because she knows I will fight back. She doesn’t take me for granted. But she is kinder to my SIL because my SIL gets her way by sweet-talking and manipulation. I feel my SIL is very skillful while dealing with people. She doesn’t care about the society and women’s rights in general. She just wants to have her own rights. And she gets them using her skills.

    So, do Indian daughters think dowry/marriage-cost increase their social standing? I think a lot of them want the path of least resistance and don’t care about fairness. They want to earn brownie points by being “padhi-likhi par sanskari bahu”.

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    • You know STF, the younger DIL always has it easier. Invariably, her parents have taken care to find out how much the older DIL’s parents had spent on her wedding and leave no stone unturned in outdoing them. This, of course, pleases the groom’s family no end. In addition, if a few years have passed since the older DIl’s marriage, her honeymoon phase with the inlaws is probably over. The younger DIL senses this and can exploit the situation very well if she is skilled enough. And most important of all, expectations from the first DIL were so high that she was set up for a grand failure. The second DIL benefits from the reduced and more realistic expectations.

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    • Instead of your parents and his parents investing in your wedding costs, it would have been way better and more appropriate for the two of you to bear the costs. Right now it seems your wedding ate into their retirement funds unless they are both quite wealthy.

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      • Nish, had we invested in our wedding, it would have been our way: a non-religious celebration with no rituals or Sanskrit chanting. We would not have gotten presents for all relatives. We would not have invited our parents’ current friends for the wedding/reception because we would have wanted to have a small-scale function that was meaningful to us. I felt the wedding/reception we had was all about them, not us. But I stepped back thinking whoever pays gets to decide what to do. I had applied that rule to both sets of parents and also to us. We get what we pay for.

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        • This is the same problem I’m facing.
          I wouldn’t mind paying for my entire wedding BUT on the condition that it would include only my friends and closest possible family, with no expenditure on gifts. This would probably come at an affordable price tag of 5-6 lakhs.
          My parents flat-out refuse this.
          They would much rather foot the bill and have their extended family and give them gifts (to reciprocate for all the gifts they’ve received so far)! I’ve agreed to this now, because really, what I want would make them unhappy- which defeats the purpose.
          My parents on their part are sensible about spending and are happy with the nearly-100% control they have over the event.
          I do plan to offer the amount I’d originally intended to spend when it is all over, I’m not sure if they will accept it.
          It doesn’t help that they do belong to the upper middle class. In any case, my offering to pay is sheer tokenism to them,(while meaning a substantial reduction in savings for me)- all for a largish wedding I don’t even care about!
          The in-laws are planning a reception and again, what they would really like is zero interference, so my BF is doing just that.

          The way I see it, if the bride and groom are paying for the wedding, they should also have control over the scale and number of guests. If parents want to go the whole hog, (which is mostly the case), and multiply the expenses – then it’s only fair that they pay.

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  13. I came to US for studying and started working afterwards. I also had an Indian boyfriend I met on campus in US, the relationship lasted couple of years. He told me several times that he was such a catch in his small town in India that he could get almost a crore in dowry. Back then I thought he was joking, he couldn’t be serious as he seemed modern and liberal minded. We eventually broke up and I am kind of glad now after reading so many in-law horror stories on this blog. If he or his family dared ask for any dowry, I would have dumped him on the spot. As a woman, I find it extremely demeaning to have to pay dowry to get married and would never accept even if my parents were okay paying it. My parents paid a good amount for my US education that was not covered by scholarships (though much much cheaper deal than normal dowry ranges) and they have more than sufficiently covered their responsibility as a parent. Paying for my education was an exponentially better investment than any dowry ever could be. I am earning well enough to support myself and save for my future. I don’t expect anything more from my parents, it is not like they are multi-millionaire business families with a lot inheritance to go around anyway. I want them to keep their saving for retirement so they won’t have any financial worries in old age (and I will happily support them if there is a need).

    I cannot imagine educated working women also expecting a dowry as means of enhancing their social standing. There are countless women who are abused and killed in name of dowry, they are lot less privileged and powerless than we are and forced by circumstances. What good is my education and financial independence if I cannot stand up and refuse to marry men who tacitly support such evil customs? I would have zero respect for such a guy as my life partner.

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  14. Interesting discussion here. Sharing another true story, my own.
    I am the elder of two daughters. My parents, mother specially always wanted daughters only as she grew up without any sisters. But even as a 8 year old, I have heard well meaning relatives advice my parents many times about 1) ‘try your luck the third time’ 2) Asking my mother to continue working as ‘You have 2 girls and will have more expenses’.
    My mother did work till recently and the compulsive planner that she is, planned out different expenses – school fees, engineering college fees, marriage expenses, honeymoon expenses, home set up expenses, first baby expenses etc. These were the essentials as per her view.
    When I decided to come to the US for further education, they did not hesitate about sending me here – I took a student loan from the bank my mother worked in, worked part time and my parents helped me with other expenses, redirecting some money from the special ‘marriage fund’.
    Right after finishing my education, I had an arranged marriage. I had not met anyone I liked till then and was fine with my parents introducing me to ‘suitable boys’.
    At the time of my marriage, my husband was still a student and I was starting work right after.
    All these details are to give a background on the differing opinions between my and hubby on whether there was dowry involved during my wedding.

    At the time of wedding, me and DH both believed there was no dowry involved. I was aware that the wedding would be a gal a event and we were not paying for it. My explanation to self was :
    1) Me and my DH really did not have any asks for the wedding, it was more of a dream for my mother to have a big wedding.
    2) My parents mentioned that my inlaws too had no specific requirements about the wedding/size of event etc. – except the food to belong to a particular cuisine.
    3) I paid for DH’s flight tickets back home as he was pretty broke🙂
    4) I had some jewelry my parents had collected over time.
    Neither of us complained about any of it as we honestly did not see this as dowry. To be brutally honest, I also did not see this as much different from them helping out with my education.

    Couple of months later, I came to know more details which makes me think there was an hidden dowry component.
    1) My parents paid of my student loan at the bank as they did not want to marry me off with a loan! I realized this only when I tried paying the first installment. I was very angry about this, my husband had a much bigger student loan and we had planned out how to pay off the loan. Note, this was not an ask from anyone but rather my parents inherent belief on what is right!
    2) My Mil did mention what jewelry her elder daughter in law came with. While this did not lead to any more purchases it was an indirect hint to my parents.

    DH does not think there was any dowry involved because of :
    1) We send money home ( to both sets of parents ) every month. For me it is about the loan repayment, but for him it is just him being a good son to both parents. My parents don’t use the money of course, again their belief of what is right!
    2) We paid for my sisters education here in the US.
    3) My in laws did not want any of my jewelry in their place, rather they wanted it all in my mom’s place for safe keeping.

    Pretty long comment in which I have gone very much off track, don’t know if it is making any sense.
    My point is – many times dowry is not apparent, sometimes it is easy to get confused about whether it is dowry or just what the parents want to do, many times parents themselves are very adamant in what they should be doing or believe that they are getting a lot of joy from doing some things.
    In my case, I found it easier to let them do what they want and from my part ensure that they never need anything.
    This is not the rightest path, but it was one of least resistance for me.

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    • “many times dowry is not apparent”
      This is so true. It’s become the norm in educated circles in the South. There’s usually no dowry per-se but there are “expectations” regarding the scale of the wedding, the jewelery the bride will be given, the “no loans” thing, what the bride will be given by her parents as a parting gift. None of this may be given directly to the groom’s family but the expectations are all there and while it’s not as bad as demanding dowry, I think it’s still a grey area because there are a lot of demands being made by the groom’s side of the family.

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      • “it’s not as bad as demanding dowry, I think it’s still a grey area”…

        This is not a grey area at all… i think this is way more than evil. This attitude is thriving on the fear of girl-parents on being outcasts. Sheer manipulation!
        How can the groom & the bride not know how much money is spent by the parents? Its their wedding after all…
        Yes dowry is not always apparent. But I can see this only as selective blindness.

        When one is a child and point to an expensive toy we dnt bother abt the cost as long as we get it. Being the same child after becoming an adult is kinda pathetic, I feel. I know this sounds very harsh. but no point sugarcoating the real issue.

        In shell’s case atleast she ws outraged and tried to rectify it. but we all know that its a rarity. majority just acts as if parents’ money is peanuts (dont see this as any different to the dowry-entitlement attitude of the groom & ILs) and only their money hard-earned.

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        • Is it still dowry when lot of money is spent on weddings to satisfy the girls parents pride own pride/ sense of accomplishment?
          How is it different from the pride they feel in being able to spend on education ?

          In an alternate society let us say, there is a social practice of celebrating event X. Can you visualize a.situation where there are grander and grander x celebrations? Is that really wrong or an application of personal choice?
          I feel that the problem is that parents feel better about spending on children ( their way) more than themselves.

          Note that I am not saying all big weddings/dowry cases are by choice but rather trying to understand specific cases of choice which is common around me – no pressure from in laws or bride/groom but rather doing stuff because they can.

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  15. I do know that the guy is sometimes the instigating factor. A guy friend of mine (in the US) fell in love with a girl and they went out for a few years. When they decided to get married, he told us about the good news and in the next breath added “Of course, I told her parents that I expect the same dowry that they would be giving her younger sister when they get her married.”

    We were so disgusted. But according to him: “Why should I be cheated out of my dowry just because I fell in love?” Unfortunately, there are “educated” Indians who feel that dowry is an entitlement for the groom.

    The sad part was, instead of asking him to take a long hike like I would have, the girlfriend went along with this demand and was also instrumental in persuading her parents to shell out the demanded dowry.

    How can anyone feel good about starting their married life with handouts from other people I don’t understand.

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  16. I have seen girls in my own family who think bigger dowry means bigger love of their parents.

    So yes, even women perpetuate patriarchy.

    I think because women are conditioned to see themselves as burden.

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  17. I disagree, I married a guy I met . I always wanted a small wedding and so did he. But because his family decided to give the go-ahead to his wedding with me (same caste and all that blah , but we were too non-traditionalists for them) he went from the – they will want a simple wedding to whatever his parents wanted. I wasn’t there when they spoke my folks and wanted a huge wedding. We asked them to limit numbers, and they gave a number x as how many would attend the wedding from their end and then on the morning of the wedding said we have called about 25% more people. All this I knew after the wedding. My parents decided to bear the cost of the wedding because they wanted me to marry a guy I liked. I cut down on as many ceremonies, saris, jewelry,guests, gifts and rituals as possible – ones I had control of , so the expenses and arrangements would be minimal. We also repaid some part of the wedding costs back my folks – they wouldn’t accept all of it.

    I think the problem I see is, not of dowry , but having a huge grand wedding. Weddings are an industry and everything related with it is expensive. It has been beaten into your head that weddings are the most important day of your life, you get married only once and it has to be ostentatious. When all this happens around , most folks tend to want a grand wedding , sometimes a simple one but expensive. It takes a reality check to start coming to normal terms , but in lots of cases , when the bride or the groom don’t spend a dime , they have no idea of how much their wishes/demands actually cost (sometimes, not always). But for some folks, the idea of a grand wedding is more important – coz may be it translates into better pictures, or that is what is projected these days.

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  18. I work in an MNC and have seen many young girls going ahead with dowry in their marriages.. I have also heard girls boasting about how much they have got as dowry in their marriage and stuffs.. These are educated people having high paying jobs.. don’t know what drives them to accept it .. but its really disgusting.. one case I would like to mention –
    In my friend’s team there was this girl who was living alone, independently and working .. She is 24 now and earns around 3.5 Lakhs per annum..Now as she was of the ‘marriageable age’ her parents were looking for prospective matches and a match was fixed with a guy, few years senior working in the same industry in a different company. The dowry was settled at rupees 10 lakhs cash and a four wheeler … She did not protested against the demands telling us that she has decided to agree to whatever her parents said and also this is the norm and if they don’t pay then they will be an outcast in their village and her younger sisters would not get married and she might also end up not getting married. …I wholly believe she could have easily stood up against all the reason if she had wanted to.. It might not have been easy but it was possible…But she was comfortable with this situation .. She also told us why the guy had rejected the previous match and had chosen her agreeing to settle for just rupees 10 lakhs cash , even though in the previous case the girl’s family was ready to pay rupees 21 lakhs as dowry , because that girl was too much a careerist, didn’t want to relocate in the city where the guy was working as it had less opportunities work wise compared to where she was settled and had asked the guy to relocate..
    I seriously don’t know how an educated economically independent girl can agree to get married to such a guy paying such amount of cash or even offer to pay dowry to prospective matches (as in the ‘previous case’ the careerist girl and her family had offered to pay 21 lakhs ).. ..

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  19. I wonder if its because women dont inherit anything after their parents die, most parents leave everything to their sons. Maybe they feel it is their right?

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    • Well.. legally daughters have an equal share off their parents wealth. If I am correct, even daughters/sons born to unwed parents have legal rights to their parent’s wealth. Given this, ladies should start taking the legal route if denied a share of their parent’s wealth.

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      • Girls should refuse to marry those boys where there is expectation that her parents have to spend anything. Instead they should seek equal inheritance as their brothers, if there is any.

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  20. True.. A colleague of mine in the US told me the same. In his story, his wife too was happy that her father had given the huge dowry that her husband’s side had desired for. The reason for her happiness, as stated by her husband, was that she had gotten her rightful share of her father’s wealth. Not many families give girls their legal rightful share of the family inheritance. So dowry is only an excuse for girls to receive their correct share!

    Absurd it sounds… when I heard this 5 years back and even now. But, this sentiment is prevalent in many societies. I guess these pople do not realise that their ‘right inheritance’ can be controlled by their husbands or others when it comes in the name of dowry!

    Hope the day would dawn when girls would just voice their opinion or take the legal route to get their share of their parent’s inheritance. Glory be the day when girls and boys would strive to earn their own wealth and say they no longer need any inheritance from anyone! Hope such days become reality soon.

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  21. My question is deeper, why should we expect anything from anyone let alone our own parents? What they leave me as an inheritance is their wish. I honestly don’t care about it because an inheritance implies that my parents are no longer around and I prefer that to a little money.

    How can anyone claim dowry as an “early inheritance settlement”? Inheritance is what’s left after they’ve lived their lives comfortably. How do you know how much money they need to live their lives peacefully? What if, god forbid, there’s an expensive medical need? If your parents have shelled out all their savings as dowry, who’s going to pay for that? Oh! I forgot! It’s going to be paid out of your SIL’s dowry. No wait, what if your parents don’t have a son? Oops! Hard luck! Right?

    In my opinion, dowry is a root cause for our society treating women the way they are. Instead of expecting everyone to take care of themselves, we expect someone else to take care of us while we take care of someone else. My parents need to save up X so that I can take that money to my IL’s house while my SIL’s parents shell out Y to my parents and in turn the SIL’s family gets Z… What nonsense is this? What is the point?

    Secondly, remember that dowry is the key reason women are married off earlier than their brothers. Because a) the parents know what to recover from their DIL’s family and b) to ensure that the DIL doesn’t get jealous of what is being spent on the wedding. Again, what’s the point?

    If you could do away with dowry, parents could at least invest in their daughter’s life without worrying about impacting her dowry fund. Girls won’t be a bigger burden because educating them doesn’t mean we don’t have to marry them off.

    Sorry, this topic gets me heated up…

    ps: I don’t personally believe in most of the terms used here such as “married off” Using them just to make a point.

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    • replying here again as someone left a toxic comment on my blog asking if I’m waiting for my IL’s to be dead so that i can claim my inheritance. wondering how many others think that about my comment here so posting an explanation.

      actually, contrary to what most people think, feminists are more likely to be symmetrical in their handling of both sides of parents. if I want my parents to be around then it goes without saying i wish the same for my husband’s parents.

      just because we refuse to obey our il’s every whim or bow down to patriarchy doesn’t mean we resent their very existence. or anyone’s for that matter. certainly not to the point of wishing them dead. ugh!

      feminists don’t dislike people. we dislike certain traits and social constructs.

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    • What is the solution though? Dowry and its twin evil, big fancy weddings paid for by the woman’s family, will ensure that our sex ratios plummet steadily. Its simple economics.
      Daughters are an expensive liability even in middle to upper class families.

      Since middle class parents pay as much these days to educate their daughters as they do their sons, most parents can only afford one daughter.

      Even financially independent women contribute little to their parents’ upkeep during their retirement years. So it makes no financial sense to invest so heavily in daughters.

      So cost-to-cost, daughters are liability no matter how you look at it. So is there light at the end of this very dark tunnel?

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      • The daughters=liability aspect comes up only at the time of the wedding. I suppose the solution lies in instilling and disseminating the idea that inexpensive weddings paid for by the couple are preferable to over the top spectacles mounted by the girl’s side.
        To be honest, not very sure if this would work because an Indian wedding is a platform to ‘mark’ one’s place and standing in one’s community. Even as weddings are getting bigger and flashier, other smaller occasions and festivals are now being celebrated on a scale that was unimaginable when I was growing up.
        An example of this is the ‘thread ceremony’ in my community. What used to be a religious rite of passage is now a big-ticket event in the family and parents’ spending runs into lakhs these days. Eventually maybe even those little boys will come to be seen at liabilities, perhaps?
        That makes me feel the root cause is our love for showing off.

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      • True that financially independent women too contribute very little to their parents, but that is because, the woman’s husband/in-laws immediately object. She is not ‘allowed’ to. She is told to focus on ‘her family’, her kids first.As though her parents cease to be ‘family’ anymore. And, she is told that her parents are now the responsibility of her brother, and not her.
        So even when she wishes to be there for her parents in their retirement, she has to fight.

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      • BiWO, dowry and big weddings are not the only reasons for the sex ratios plummeting as is demonstrate by economically developed but patriarchal countries like China, Korea or Japan.

        I believe it is inherent lack of worth in the eyes of the women themselves and the society at large.

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    • Yes, each one should aim to be self reliant. Why should one be looked after by another? Parents need to have enough funds for their future. Children should not have any expectation from their parents after turning adults Marriage should be a personal affair between two people. The only role parents should have is to give their “aashirvad”. The world would be a better place with no one having a leverage over another.

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  22. I guess some women see it as an early installment on their inheritance. A lot of men do this too, where they expect their parents to pay for their college education, first car etc.

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  23. Whether the Indian women accept it or not, they never say no to whatever their parents give away in their weddings.In the urban set up, usually dowry is not asked but given. The educated urban Indian girl is given gold which is ceremonial but substantial gold is given this way.
    Apart from this ,the usual gifts are given to the boy’s family which is again not accounted as a dowry. The cost of marriage and the reception is taken care by the girls parents. Along with this the other household items and property is given.

    In short the boy is getting married on the cost of the girl’s parents all in the name of socially accepted rituals. This cost for an ordinary urban middle class marriage is 20 -50 lakhs. There is an invisible but apparent pressure from the bridegroom’s family to conduct the marriage in a decent way-which means expensive way.

    This arrangement is never opposed by the urban bride however educated she may be. The way she gets married off shows her social standing and she’s comfortable in this set up. The brides now a days decide on all the arrangements and the bridal wear ,only expecting from parents.

    So even if there is no visible dowry given, the whole arrangement and its expenses along with the gifts are sufficient enough to drain the girl’s family. I have never seen an Indian bride thinking about the parents expenses but they believe that this the duty of the parents.

    Also the girls know that if the marriage is not performed according to the groom’s family; she would have to bear the aftermath whole of her life. This social pressure is ruling the mindset of the most urban brides.

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    • I agree. But honestly, sometimes the women-and the parents-WANT to have a big wedding, even if the groom’s side doesn’t care. But yeah, there is that expectation from the bride that her parents will pay for everything.

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  24. Now I’m feeling bad for my husband ( just kidding) , i came into the marriage with a suitcase of clothes and 10,000rs in the bank – everythng i earned . and not 1 piece of gold.. although my parents were well off, i was asked to leave it all back if i went with him, so in effect , he spent for the entire wedding ( albeit in a temple), tickets , honeymoon ( ohh maldives 2 decades ago was paradise) , a reception in bombay etc., etc., and i bought him a one ring with my limited saving, since i had giventhe rest of the money to my dad to invest for me ( and my husband did not want me to ask for it) , and by the calculator he was a CATCH a rich one at that… poor guy what grief i gave him, hmmm there are great guys in india you know, it’s all a mindset . his parents drilled womens equality in him quite well i must say … if guys nowadays are acting up I’d blame their parents a bit too… we teach kids so many things and fail to teach them how to treat human beings.. sad.

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    • Radhaji. It’s hard to find a man in India who walks the talk. Most educated Indian men pay lip service to equality but when push comes to shove most follow social convention (when it benefits them).

      No matter how educated or well travelled a man or his family maybe, in matters of marriage, most extract their pound of flesh from the bride’s family.

      My best friend’s parents started saving for her marriage when my friend was little. They lived frugally, took no holidays and spent little to please themselves.

      They threw a grand wedding with the money they had accrued so painstakingly. The groom’s parents live lavishly post retirement, have no savings and did hence not pay for the wedding.

      They live without a care for tomorrow because The Son will take care of them.
      Having a son changes the way people look at life.

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      • errr…I do take a slight issue with “No matter how educated or well travelled a man or his family maybe, in matters of marriage, most extract their pound of flesh from the bride’s family.”

        I think we should also talk about Indian families who do not fit this stereotype (and they are increasing). My wedding was a three day, destination wedding in Sri Lanka and my honeymoon was a 10 day trip to Bali. Everything was taken care of by my husband’s family…who’s Indian, born and raised. I know of some other cases like this as well.

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        • Kay, point noted. However, my comments are based on what I see around me as somebody with a middle class background.

          Your inlaws appear to be quite remarkable based on what you’ve shared about them on your blog and on IHM’s as well.

          However exceptions do not make the rule.

          I’ve honestly not come across ladkewale who emphatically refuse to follow customs that are demeaning to the girl’s family.

          In my community, the bride’s father has to wash and dry the groom’s feet. In all my life, I haven’t come across ONE man who’s refused to have his feet washed by his father-in-law.

          Neither have I come across a family who’s refused the preferential pampering that the ladkewale recieve during the wedding.

          When it comes to enjoying unearned and gender-based privileges, most people follow cultural conventions because they benefit from it.

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      • No my in-laws passed away in an accident before we got married.
        and yes they would have been ok with a temple wedding since they themselves got married in tiruvannamalai temple. apparently both my in-laws parents abhorred the showing off of wealth.
        so my MIL and FIL were married in a temple with just parents and siblings and didn’t even have a reception. they instead did annadhanam and paid the expenses for a month of care in some orphanages .
        later they grew professionally and made money hand over fist but yes from what i hear they never changed. they did build a beautiful house and acquired property etc., but they were from all accounts very socially conscious. they did the thread ceremony for my husband again in the temple with just them and grandparents ( those alive) . so they were not much into large functions.
        My MIl was a dr and she had purchased a wedding saree and thali for her DIL before she passed away and who my husband married was left to him.
        we both wanted a simple wedding , i wanted it in a temple and , to me any temple was ok so we decided to go with tiruvannamalai since he was familiar with the setup there.

        But i think even if they were alive my husband my husband would do what we wanted, he’s not much for following the herd type thing.
        He respects elders / parents etc., but doesn’t really pander to them. he tried very hard to convince my dad but when he realised it was futile he never wasted a min, yet he holds no grudges and tried to make contact thru the yrs, if anything i was the uninterested party.

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  25. I went to the US for study/work. I met my childhood crush there. After 2 years of living together (my parents knew I was living with him), we mentioned our commitment. I wasn’t keen on getting married. My parents insisted that a marriage is essential and that we come back to India as it is just going to be a formality anyway*. I didn’t want a lavish wedding, just a simple deal at the registrar’s but they said it’s the first wedding in the family and there will be lot of friends and family that would feel left out. The food, marriage hall, transport etc – a majority of it was done by my parents**. No one insisted anything, no one demanded anything, no goods exchanged hands. My mom sent with me to the US all the jewels she had accumulated very well knowing that I wasn’t going to use them ever. When I came back to India, I promptly returned everything including mangalsutra to my mom and insisted she keep it in HER safe box and use it for anything SHE wants. She knew she couldn’t argue with me anymore.

    * I went along with the plans and didn’t stress on my beliefs which was a mistake clearly in hindsight. I had no plans on spending any money for a wedding, but since it happened that way, I did pay for half of the expenses.
    ** I never gave it enough thought on who’s spending more. Got to know about it only after the wedding when my husband and I were discussing our expenses. I don’t think it would have mattered to me even at that time that my parents were spending more because in the end it was all a farce anyway and I remember I couldn’t wait to get back to my life in US devoid of drama, manipulation and hypocrisy.

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  26. I wanted to add my 2 cents because reading the above comments I am a little annoyed by all the people who “went with the flow” and let their parents pay for their weddings. It is quite easy to avoid this. My husband and I had mutually agreed that we would be splitting the costs of the wedding down the middle and that’s exactly what we did including all ceremonies and the reception. We did have differing ideas on the scale of the wedding but decided it was still fair to split the costs. It meant a lot more involvement in wedding details than is common and was a hassle since we were getting married in India while living in the US but anything other than this for us would not have worked. Are people really telling me that after overcoming all the other hurdles that typically go with trying to marry someone of your choice the final hurdle of wedding costs is too much? I think the only people who benefit from this is the wedding planning industry. They milk these sentiments for all their worth.

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    • I have nothing but admiration for you:)
      I wish i could do the same. I don’t mind paying part of my parents’ expenditure but I would seriously mind paying for half of the total (parent’s plus inlaws) expenditure. There are only two functions and each family is paying for their own function. The one ‘we’ are paying for (the marriage ceremony) is the smaller and simpler one- my community is known for it’s simple, (sort of boring) weddings which usually end by lunchtime.
      As I said upthread, I don’t mind paying the cost *I* would have spent on this function if I was the sole spender (which I believe is fair) , but my parents have refused once already. Other than transferring the amount directly into their account (which I’m not averse to doing), I don’t see how I can do what is evidently the right and proper thing to do.

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  27. I was talking to my dad recently and he was telling me about the plans he had made for my wedding! He’d planned everything, from the place we would get married to the hotel the reception would be held at.
    It’s ridiculous cos there is no groom in sight!😛

    But the funny part is, we actually had a pretty long conversation about the whole thing. I told him I didn’t want him to pay for my wedding. Of course, this meant I would pay for my own wedding. Which also meant that I would only invite the people *I* wanted to invite, and not the whole world and their uncle, as is typical for Indian weddings.

    He was very upset. Cos of COURSE we have to invite everyone! Otherwise everyone would get upset! I changed topics before things got heated. Why should I upset him so much when I wasn’t anywhere close to getting married? But I know this will be a cause for further friction if I do decide on getting married.

    We didn’t even touch the topic of dowry cos I would rather die than pay a guy to marry me!

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    • I am in the same situation ..no guy in sight and parents know all the wedding details😛..i tell them very firmly that I am going to pay for my wedding but they always brush this aside…I am not sure why they don’t understand I want them to keep all that money they are thinking of using on my (as of now imaginary) wedding for their retirement and maybe to travel somewhere and I will pay for my own wedding…..!!

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      • A daughter’s or paraya dhan’s money, body, choice of career, clothing or food preferences – everything she does, is seen as her in laws’s business – she is her in laws dhan/amaanat in her parents care until she is sent off to ‘her own family/home’ – many parents feel guilty in using her money for her wedding, because she has no right on her own money, it belongs to her in laws. Like another commenter has mentioned above, a daughters’ parents are expected to pay off education loans, strangely also pay for the son in law’s education/upbringing (as dowry), because after all he is going to provide for their daughter.

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  28. My husbands parents gave a few lakhs in cash to my sister in law for her wedding plus a lot of Gold. Then for the first year for every occasion they gave them 25,000. However my sister in law would still call and demand. Her husband is a VP in an international bank, the only son and comes from a very well off family. But my sister in law demands money from her parents because according to her it improves her position in her in laws house that she has this money.

    I remember when she was pregnant and had come over to stay with her parents, she forced my mother in law to buy her god bangles for her Godh Bharai and present it in front of her in laws. I remember my mother in law crying in front of me telling me how selfish her daughter is.

    Even now my father in law brought her a laptop, mobile phones (she looses her phone every few months very conveniently)

    I see her pressing them for money on every occasion and they give. She has actually forced my in laws to transfer their current house in her name and keeps telling them to move in with us so she can put the house on rent and get some more money.

    On the contrary I have been supporting my parents and me and my husband paid for our wedding without any help from anyone.

    My husband and I just sit and watch the tamasha where she emotionally blackmails them, they grumble, complaint and call her selfish but give into her demands because “Woh bichari job nahin karti”.

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    • hmmm, did you ever think that she may be facing taunts, threats and mistreatment from her in-laws and this is why she is doing all this

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      • This in response to your comment Anonymous. We know for a fact that she does not get any jibes from her in laws. They have in the past mentioned to my in laws that they MUST stop giving to her. All the dowry money that she received during her wedding is in her name invested by her. She uses that money to buy expensive jewellery.

        When my in laws transferred their house in her name, her in laws and husband requested mine not to do it as they have a lot of property of their own and they felt it was not needed, however she twisted arms, bullied and begged tell they gave in.

        When my in laws visit us she never calls them etc, doesn’t even go to pick them up or drop them however she calls the day before they are supposed to leave with the list of gifts she wants and those gifts are only for her. Not for her child or her husband.

        You know what manipulation is when you see it all the time.

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      • Anonymous: No amount of taunt and threat should lead to such behavior, and if her life is in threat then she should rather walk out and be safe rather than live with such an a**h**** and keep giving in to his demands…What is the point of living such a life where even after giving all the gifts and money she is still unhappy?? Its better to walk out, that will ensure that she will be at peace with no threats and also save a lot money for the parents….Also, based on information below that does not seem to be the case here..

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      • I know of people who believe that working is meant for suckers. These people do not work outside home, do not work at home and bring nothing to the table. All they want is their maikewale to keep spending on them in the name of “izzat” in their sasural.

        In this particular case the girl’s brother was the one who earned and supported his entire khandan as the father was no more. And the bhabhi did all the household work from cooking, feeding, cleaning, housekeeping, taking care of studies of younger in laws, their PTMs etc. The rest of the family members ate, slept, ordered the bhabhi/bahu around the house, plotted how to manipulate her into doing their bidding, made the brother spend like mad for the weddings of his sisters with dowry, not to mention that he took care of them from childhood till marriage, and even after.

        I believe parents have a very important role in imparting values to their children, which was sadly lacking in this case. A sensible mother would have asked all her children to pitch in, in some way or other and not dump all the family responsibility on one single person and his wife.

        In our culture it is very easy for mischief mongers to get away with mischief as they cannot be thrown out, however toxic they are. Because “log kya kahenge”?

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  29. I have wondered about this question too. I think women think that dowry is a social norm and accept it as a gift from her parents, just as most of the well-educated, living abroad, making big money grooms do. This brings up the question of how do we create awareness against these cultural/ social evils? I used to think that education and exposure is an answer. Now I am starting to think that education does not really do much. I have seen highly educated people give in to stupid useless customs, just because they think it will make their parents and society happy. I have realized that 1) we need to start using our brains and start differentiating between logical vs. nonsense 2) our lives are ours to live, not some body else’s to dictate 3) every relationship should be based on equality.

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  30. Then I guess I got lucky? Well I can say with certainty,
    My sons will marry wom they please,
    Howthey please. When they please and it will please us if they split the cost with their brides🙂. We have better things to do in our retirement than wander around poking our nose in their love life. We found our soul mates , they can do the same.

    Of course when we are gone we might leave all the wealth to them — might.
    The boys are barely in college and we get plenty of indirect talk about their ristas. I think we sca people when we say its their choice. I’m horrified at these parents offering up their daughters like ladders all because we are wealthy. The dad is good ok for all you know the sons may be good for nothing loafers , yet they don’t hesitate. Disgusting.

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    • I have three children. For long everyone had been asking me and my husband about when we were planning to get our children married. In fact many have scolded me and told me it was my duty to get them settled.

      Finally one of them got married to her colleague. Expenses were split on both sides.

      The other two are still single and people are doing everything to make my life hell with all their interrogation and reprimands.

      People tell me if I get a bahu, I can sit down and relax, while the bahu can do all the work. I tell them that when my son marries, it will be because he wants to marry and have a companion…not because I want a slave.

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  31. My parents wanted to share in my bro’s wedding costs, but when they suggested it, my SIL’s dad got offended. She is the only daughter and he wanted to give her a ‘grand send-off’. My parents tried explaining that she would still be his daughter, she wasn’t really going to disappear from his life,, and anyway, they wanted to give their DIL a ‘grand welcome’. He refused and threw such a tantrum that my parents had to give way. In a way, it was ok, because all the money that they would have spent on the wedding went into jewelry they bought for my SIL, and now she has an asset if she should ever need it. But my SIL still feels proud of how much her father spent, feels it is an indication of how much he loves her.

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  32. I am reminded of a friend, who was my hostel mate while we were studying our master’s. She said ” I won’t keep quiet if my father does not give dowry at the time of my marriage. He should give at least 5 lakhs otherwise people will think the boy has some defects (whatever that meant). And if my father gives more dowry at the time of younger sister’s marriage, I will not keep quiet. I will fight for my share”. I asked her what made her think that her father should even consider giving dowry. I added that she should actually oppose it. She replied that it was very common in their community and parents of girls would be looked down upon if they did not give dowry. They had to show off their status by giving huge dowry. I looked at her in dismay. Do you think education really makes girls/women stand up for the cause? Or do social norms mean much more for many people that rational thinking that education is supposed to inculcate is just brushed aside?

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  33. I think some of the comments may be going a bit off track here. I think it is perfectly OK for parents to willingly offer to take up wedding expenses and even give expensive presents to their kids. Just because they do so or can afford to do so does not mean that they are doing it because of pressure from society. Of course, it is a terrible thing if all this is done unwillingly or to up the status of the daughter at her ILs.

    When my kids are of marriageable age, if I have the resources, I might want to help with the expenses or give my kids an equivalent gift to help them start off their married lives with a little more ease. If I am super rich by then ( wishful thinking), I might be able to afford a nicer wedding for them. That inherently is not wrong.

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  34. I have been reading the comments and there seem to be differing sides to the story. My observations is that both men and women practice or perpetuate misogyny and many urban, educated Indian women really do not care about feminism as we like to believe as long as their lives are going fine. Why, I don’t know and i often wonder when I see so many educated, urban women abroad and they really don’t care. The more liberal ones, stick to their groups, the conservative ones stick to theirs.

    To answer the letter writer’s question, there are few reasons, why women still participate in this and I am quoting all these incidents from people I have known in real life :

    – Taking the scenario that the LW has mentioned, often the guy’s family will demand dowry or a grand wedding and the girl goes with it because the guy will say, I am hurting /going against my parents with this love marriage. They are doing us a favour by allowing us to marry. Let us not create more problems and go along with whatever they demand.

    Imagine, both the girls and guys parents do not want/expect their children to date. They are dating for sometime and go tell their parents that they want to marry. Drama, emotional guilt tripping ensues. Now, the guy demands dowry. The girl cannot back off saying you want dowry, get lost. It is humiliating personally and for the girl’s family because they fought so much for this and now, how can you say I don’t want this. Her family will come down hard on her, see, we told you so, marry according to our wish blah blah. People will blame the girls parents for not controlling her properly. They will rush to arrange the girl’s marriage ASAP. Nobody will give her time to get over her break up. All her friends will look down upon her because she broke up (isn’t she a slut?)

    So what do we do? She loves him. She is tired of fighting it all out for getting married and get their parents to accept it in the first place. Take the path of least resistance and just pay dowry and be done with it.

    This problem occurs because –
    parents do not want their kids to date.
    If they date, they must get married
    Break ups are non existent
    Parents behave as if they are doing a big favour by letting their kids marry someone of their choice and hence believe everything else should be done according to tradition

    – Even in arranged marriage, the guy’s family will as k for gifts, after the engagement. So, the girl would be like – I like him, at least he did not demand it, his relatives asked for it, we are engaged and have distributed wedding cards. I feel bad, but we are going ahead with it.

    – Many cases, love or arranged, the girl’s family will give because it is tradition and they are rich and can afford it.

    – I have known people who wanted a simple wedding and it ended up becoming a grand affair. It is tiring to have arguments after arguments with your in laws and have to fight it out alone. So for every battle you win, you let them do half the things their way because you are already called an arrogant, demanding woman (not a good Indian girl) and get some things your way.

    – Somebody put it like this ” If parents of the girl rejected all the guys who demanded dowry or footing the wedding bill, everybody they know would put pressure on them. They would call them selfish parents because they are not willing to spend money on their daughter happiness. The pressure is so intense to get your girl married, that they will just do it.”

    – In many arranged marriages, they may not take dowry, but they want a big wedding. The guy may be like whatever makes my parents happy. If the girls parents can (not) afford it, they will go ahead and do it especially if they feel the guy/his family is good. Why reject a nice spouse just because of some money for a wedding.

    – Many parents save up (even if they are educated with phd’s) for their daughter’s wedding and will give gold jewelry and pay for the wedding because it is their duty even if the daughter says no. ” You are a kid, you do not know,we are expected to give and we will give, we have to follow some traditions and the guy’s family is cultured and not a rebel like you is what you will hear.

    – There is so much pressure for big weddings. People ask you if you found their wedding grand enough. People discuss grand weddings. Many people will tell you ” Oh, I will surely meet you next time for your daughter’s wedding.” – What does that mean. you must have a big wedding and invite the said person even if the daughter is nowhere near getting married. All your acquaintances say that. Your colleagues say that. Someone, gave me the example of Aishwariya Rai’s wedding. They did not invite many people and so many people were offended.So, their mom told her she should not insist on simple weddings because that would lead to so many fights and ill will. The pressure to invite all and sundry is very high on the first child’s wedding.

    – A simple wedding in India denotes something is wrong – with the guy or the girl. That it is a shameful thing – that it is a love marriage and the parents are not happy. so people would rather go for a big wedding.

    – I have heard my relatives give instructions to the parents of the girl getting married – that they must do this, go and give all your daughters jewelery to the in laws, you must send them money for every festival.

    – There is so much pressure that having nice in laws/ husband is considered so good that people do not want to fight for not spending money on wedding/ gifts

    – Many people go ahead with it to make their parents happy, to maintain their respect in society, because it is so much easier than all the emotional turmoil and drama that ensues.I have seen – 1 wedding involves like dealing with at least 100 relatives on both sides and it is so tiring to have to fight for your beliefs, 2 against 100. People would rather just shut up and follow.

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    • And this is the reasoning people give me when I say I want a simple wedding –

      > Well, that does not depend on your wishes. It depends on the guy and his family. Everybody need not be like you. There are guys who respect their families wishes and desires for a big wedding
      > What’s wrong in adjusting for 1 day. It is a once in a lifetime event. Why not do it and make everyone happy. Can’t you adjust and dress up for 1 day? You will remember.

      Usually, people start out by doing and agreeing a bit, and then they are asked to do more, sacrifice more. These traditions would never die out if we keep giving in, bit by bit. If we do it now, what is the guarantee, we will fight for our kids right not to do it?

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      • Agree.
        “If we do it now whats the guarantee that we will fight for our kids right not to do it?”
        Far from it.
        I know a cousin of mine who was opposed to dowry, his dad too was opposed.Mom kept silent.After all the girl seeing, background checking etc was done, the Mom suddenly stepped in and said I am going to demand dowry otherwise what will our neighbours, our close relatives and everybody else think? They will think some defect in my son.So she fougt with all in the house and demanded dowry.Now, do you know what is the guy’s attitude? He has a 1 yr old daughter and he started saving for her marriage.He also does not want the wife to conceive again, because, he reasons, what if its a girl the second time round? I have to pay two dowries! I tried reasoning with himm by saying, why dont you stand by your principles and those of your dad’s, which are anti-dowry? And he says, inspite of my dad and me being principled, did we not end up taking dowry because of my mother? So what if that happens in my daughters’ case too?
        I did not know what else to say to him.,
        Very sad.That poor little girl has to grow up minus a sibling.I dont even want to imagine what is going through the wife’smind, being forced to not conceive again since thefkrst born is a girl.How guilty she must be feeling, for giving dowry.

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      • Yes of course it depends on the guy’s wishes. As IHM puts it so well, we paraya dhans do not even control our own bodies and our own money. It all belongs to the husband and his parents.
        Who said slavery was dead? Such mariages based on the paraya dhan concept are exactly like a slave being restored to her rightful owner, otherwise called a husband.

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  35. I originally refrained from commenting, because I wasn’t completely sure on the definitions of “dowry” and such, but I think I’ve gotten a clearer idea now from the comments. Please correct me if I’m wrong:

    Dowry, as I see it, is not practiced in its strictest sense any more. That is, the money that the bride’s parents give is not given to the groom’s parents per se, but is given in the form of gold, and jewelry and big lavish weddings and such. If this is the case, then yes, there have definitely been many cases where the bride has insisted upon a large dowry.

    To be quite honest, I never saw this scenario defined as dowry, because to me, whenever my parents discussed buying gold and jewelry for me or my sister at the time of our weddings, it was always referred to as a “gift” for us, something that would allow us to start our lives with reasonable wealth stowed away. For this reason, I never quite objected to it, although we’ve told them time and time again that when we get married, the costs of the large wedding will be footed by us and our future husbands, and that they are not to spend a penny on anything.

    Of course, looking back on those conversations now, I can see that a lot of what I thought my parents were saying jokingly was in fact a serious situation for them. They would often brush off my declarations that I would buy my own jewelry and gold, and laughingly ask me what my in-laws would think of my family, if they made me buy my own jewelry. I thought they were kidding at the time, but judging by the state of things, clearly they were not. =/ I feel like such an idiot, thinking about it now, because I had always figured that the gifts they wanted to give came from their heart and not from any need to “prove” themselves.

    Whenever the topic of dowry came up, I’d tell them quite plainly that if my future in-laws ever pressed them for money, they were to tell me and I’d take care of it immediately. Nobody is allowed to screw around with my parents. They’ve worked hard, given up a LOT and suffered for quite a long time in order to make sure that me and my sister are well-educated and successful. That is all any sane person would have to do. If my in-laws want to milk someone, they can milk me, but they are not going to disrupt my parents’ comfort for their own selfish desires.

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    • “If my in-laws wanted to milk someone, they can milk me”.

      Sorry, I do not mean to intrude on your private affairs, but would you really marry someone who enters marries hoping for monetary gains, that too at your expense?

      This custom of money changing hands would still continue even if the bride herself paid up, rathet than her parents.

      If dowry is given in lieu of the husband providing for his wife, then maybe the groom’s parents should also compensate the wife’s parents for taking a daughtet (and her uterus) away from them.

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  36. Cultural conditioning isn’t it? If brides comply with dowry demands and turn a blind eye to the implications it’s because everyone is doing it, it’s acceptable and they don’t want the match to flounder on the steps of dowry. If only they understood that taking a stand, and saying no would ensure a much better life for them. Either the educated boyfriend from the US will come around and marry her despite it all, or he will leave her life making way for a better person. The big fear is that there are no better grooms, because almost everyone thinks dowry is just part of the business transaction called marriage. Even ‘love’ marriages are turned into the patriarchal institution of “arranged” marriages that sees women as a commodity.
    Thanks for raising this point.

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    • //If only they understood that taking a stand, and saying no would ensure a much better life for them. Either the educated boyfriend from the US will come around and marry her despite it all, or he will leave her life making way for a better person.//

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  37. I agree. However, the daughters of such parents have to then ensure that streedhan is indeed controlled by them.

    In fact, the law says that all ornaments given to the woman at the time of marriage belong solely to her. This even includes ornaments put on her during “mooh dikhai” and those gifted by the groom’s family.

    With regards to daughters not caring for their parents, many are prevented from doing so by their husband’s families. First women have to insist on and win the right to offer care to their aging parents.

    For this Indian marriage customs have to evolve and become less man-centric and more fair.

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  38. I think it’s a bit more than cultural conditioning sometimes–it’s greed.

    I have heard of a ‘friend of a friend’ or ‘someone who’s related to someone, who’s related to someone’ do this kind of thing. Well educated (generally a foreign undergrad or even a masters degree that’s been fully paid for by mom and dad mind you, not the poor international student with the funny clothes who’s working extra hours at the lab trying to pay her middle class parents’ loan off as soon as she can) women who marry their boyfriends’ and give a few generous ‘gifts’ to the man’s family. It’s generally debated off by saying ‘the man’s family gives gifts too’ but they’re not even remotely comparable in monetary value.

    In Delhi, I’ve noticed, it’s about marrying the right guy, from the right family, with the right degree, who went to the right university (not some below average Midwestern state university) and who’s family is relatively super well off. Granted that the guy’s looks are acceptable as well. So yes, for these dudes, some girls and their families are willing to shell out big time. I suppose that it guarantees that they appear on the papers once in a while. This kinda leads to the objectification of both men and women (granted, it’s in different ways and women still get the short end of the stick) and all around-general stupidity.

    But hey, if a woman who’s completely capable of being independent decides to buy a perfect product (i e, the man) and subjugate herself in the process, then she doesn’t have my sympathies.

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  39. I agree. However, the daughters of such parents have to then ensure that streedhan is indeed controlled by them.

    In fact, the law says that all ornaments given to the woman at the time of marriage belong solely to her. This even includes ornaments put on her during “mooh dikhai” and those gifted by the groom’s family.

    With regards to daughters not caring for their parents, many are prevented from doing so by their husband’s families. First women have to insist on and win the right to offer care to their aging parents.

    For this Indian marriage customs have to evolve and become less man-centric and more fair.

    Like

  40. I am a well educated (PhD from India’s top university!) was good looking (may be still, I know not) and was a very eligible girl when I got married. My father got me married with a handsome dowry. I spoke to my then fiance about it, he did not want to interfere with the ‘adult’s business’. I spoke to my father, he said he was doing this for my own good. No one in my husband’s family should ever point it out that I came to the family ’empty handed’. Yes ’empty-handed’ was the phrase he used. He could afford it, he was proud that he was doing it. I was not happy about it at all then.

    Now when I look back, there is that much less respect for my husband that he did not step up that day and stand up to himself and stand by me. He also did nothing about the feet-washing ceremony (a South Indian tradition, my father washed his feet during the wedding)….But we are very much married till date. Deep down my heart I know, if I were in my husband’s shoe that day, I would have been a better human being. Might sound funny, but when we have a fight and it goes below the belt, the first thing I say is ‘I have not come to your house empty-handed’, as if my father paid for this toy called ‘Husband’ from the marriage-store!
    Funny, but not so.

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  43. I was very sure right from my childhood that I am not going to get married if money is involved.
    Thankfully my parents were and still are of the same opinion.
    So, when I was studying (Graduation and PG), I was in a relationship with a guy that lasted for around 3 years, and the guy always used to tell me ” that I should thank my stars that he liked me” and everytime he would visit his hometown he would tell me that “just today a girls family came home and were ready to offer me x amount etc and I said no coz I love you” and I would always think he was probably joking because I had never heard any such thing (nobody in my entire family has given or taken dowry)… These things only kept increasing so much so that one fine day when the topic of our marriage was being discussed, he said that “since your family is rich they should give my SISTER 1 lakh as gift money” and that it is the minimum that my parents can do…I was shocked and did not know how to react…I felt disgusted and lost all the respect I had for him and immediately broke the relationship.. It was only then that I came to know that there existed something called as “Aadabadchu Katnam” in Andhra families where money has to be given to the guy’s sister and since both of us belonged to that region, he and his SISTER expected that amount apart from marriage expenses…I wonder why the sister in law needs to be paid money???
    Today, when I look back am glad that I broke it off. I got married later on and it was arranged marriage, but neither my in laws nor my husband asked for anything and my father spent money only because he wanted to and that too within his limits, so I also did not protest. Yes, I did protest when my mother wanted to shell 20K for a saree and finally she gave up and no extra gold was bought..
    But, most of my friends and roommates from college have gone ahead and married guys of their choice and have and are still demanding money from parents…In fact for one of my friends wedding, her dad purchased gold by investing his entire PF only to be insulted by the guys side and the girl did not open her mouth to stand by her father because she loved the guy and could not bear to upset her marital life…And all these girls are educated and working in MNC’s and earn around 6 lakhs per annum. It is indeed very surprising that girls themselves ask for it and expect the parents to shell money…Atleast here, the state that I come from, every girl knows that she will be valued only based on the dowry and gifts and the lavish weddings. So in the end, it does not really matter whether it is an arranged marriage or a love marriage as ultimately the girls do not protest and the guys shut their mouths and the legacy will continue…..:(

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  44. Pingback: “Although my in laws maintain a facade of being content with what they have and never asking the girl’s side for anything…” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  45. Pingback: “I remember how tensed my family was at the time of my marriage 2 years back. Every time they were forced to do ‘Milnis and Teekas with heavy envelopes’.” | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  46. My parents wrote will and gave all property to son
    After marriage nobody will give anything.

    If you go to court at 50 when u are old and your parents are dead… what is use

    Don’t give dowry
    . Don’t marry a guy who asks for dowry.. take it for your own security take it to ur name

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