ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design
ItalyIndia design

46. Indian Wedding -side effects

Female symbol with inside text: Dowry and many woman hands with mehndi on background

Boy, from a good family, engineer, 100.000 rupees per month wage, tall, slightly bronze skin. 1.000.000 rupees? 2.000.000? Who bids more? This is not an auction, but something like that: the dowry.

The dowry transforms Indian weddings into a moment of haggle, where every husband has a price and makes no discounts.
Who pays? The bride’s family, of course. And when they can’t pay the price, they will fall into debt in order to be capable to pay and ensure the girl a good position (80% of the loans requested to the banks are for wedding expenses).

In the best-case-scenario, the price is paid and the matrimonial life goes on. In the worst-case-scenario, it’ll ends with a little article on a newspaper: “YOUNG GIRL BURNS ALIVE, DOMESTICAL ACCIDENT”.
In 2010 occurred around 8.391 dowry deaths. Surprisingly, 1396 more than in 2000. The dowry harassments is an increasing trend that develops as the economy goes on. This is creating hard times for women and their safety, from the female-fetus killing to physical and psychological violence inside the house.


Dowry consists in a sum of money or goods that the bride’s family gifts to the husband’s. It is an ancient hindu tradition that was once used among high castes only, but now it’s pretty common among the rich and poor, the hindu, the Christian or the Muslim who traditionally gifted mehr to the bride. Even though it is illegal since 1961.


In the ancient Indian patriarchal society, women had no property rights. At the moment of the wedding, when the woman left her father’s home to become daughter of her husband’s parents, the father gave her part of his richness (the streedhan) by offering her some money. The bride was considered like a manifestation of goddess Lakshmi brining wealth. Only kings and rich people were sticking to this tradition.
In XIX a.D. the tradition was consolidated, and the parents of the husband decided the amount of money to pay. The dowry phenomenon increased with the economic liberalization of the nineties, and the dowry has become a social plague. The spreading consumerism made the wedding exaggerate and gifts from the bride’s family are more than expected: they are due. The dowry became the perfect payment for arranged marriages.


The dowry phenomenon mostly affects women in the north India, and there are cases in Kerala and Bangalore as well. Even though Kerala has the highest literacy rate and the lowest female children death rate. Very few admit they had received a dowry, and nobody admits to have asked for one. But gold, household electric appliances and cars never miss on a list of gifts for the husband’s family.
The website and online wedding agency Shadi.com launched an application to spread knowledge about this problem: Angry Brides, inspired by the famous game Angry Birds. The facebook game gained a lot of success and received many critics for the ironic approach to a serious matter.


And this is the first step to make it happen: an India without dowry deaths… and maybe without dowry at all!

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