By Tanvi Sharma

Edited by Nanditha Singh, Senior Editor, The Indian Economist

Indians are often looked upon in awe by the West for our culture, traditions, morals, and values. We are an extremely diverse country, with different interpretations of the institution of marriage in varied cultures and religions. Sadly, a majority of them do not deserve the approbation and applause that they manage to garner from the West. The institution of marriage holds great significance in Indian culture, but there are certain aspects of this sacred institution that have time and again degraded its value. In fact, it is better to never marry than to conform to certain traditional practices associated with marriage.

Dowry is one social evil through which money is minted in the name of marriage by the groom’s family. These self-appointed custodians of Indian tradition need to be asked if women just exist for the purpose of bringing in dowry. It does not seem to matter how backward or modern a region is, because dowry is prevalent even among the affluent classes and so-called progressive individuals of society.

“Here, take this car as well as some cash. Plus, you will also need some furniture to get settled into your newly married life.” This is the line often quoted by parents to their daughters while giving dowry during marriage. How will an extra car and an extra piece of furniture help a girl with settling well in her new family? Well, this is just an excuse to justify the incessant greed of the groom and his family. Dowry has actually reduced marriage to a money minting business.

So, you will not send your girl for higher studies, nor will you let her take a job. You will teach her how to run a house and eventually get her married as soon as she attains “marriageable age.” You will get rid of her, and provide some compensation, in the form of dowry, to the groom’s family for the ‘burden’ of looking after. No doubt, daughters are considered a liability in Indian society.

However, why don’t you try spending some money on her studies instead of on dowry, thereby allowing her to become independent enough to sustain herself as well as her family, married or not. She would be single, independent and happy!

You will limit her opportunities, trivialise her opinions, curb her freedom, and then complain that girls are a liability. You will get rid of that ‘liability’ through marriage and then eventually curse yourself for losing her. Instead, why don’t you change your own mindset and say no to dowry. Say no to the thousands of dowry related suicides and murders that happen every year.

It is high time that women come forward and refuse to marry men who are atrocious enough to keep dowry at a higher priority than a healthy marriage. Marriage should not be turned into a business. Life partners should be chosen through love, compatibility, understanding, and mutual trust and respect, rather than through dowry, status, money, etc.

Girls are not born just for the sake of fulfilling their partners’ need and greed. Marriage is just a part of our lives, and not the sole reason for our existence. Getting married is not our duty; it is our choice. Freedom from dowry is what we need!

Tanvi firmly believes in the power of words over weapons. She is here to change the way people look at things. An avid reader, a closet singer and an inveterate foodie who can live her entire life on the Internet.

Posted by The Indian Economist | For the Curious Mind