Dowry was not a social malpractice like corruption, etc. The circumstances under which it was prevalent earlier, justified its existence. When there were joint families, every family had a number of son’s and daughter’s. Since the daughter’s were married off, they were given their share in the family property in advance (during marriage) in the name of dowry. After that, daughter’s did not have any rights on the family property/lands etc.

This system as I see it, was fair and fine till may be about 100 years back. When the law allowed equal share for both men and women in the ancestral property, dowry should have immediately ceased to exist. Or rather, people should have stopped taking/giving dowry. To see that it lives on, in every class of the society irrespective of one’s education and knowledge of the law that prevents families from exchanging wealth during marriages, is a shocker!

In South Indian marriages, there is a separate room where all the gifts from the girl’s side is displayed brazenly for the amusement of the guests. The first thing that anyone asks after they come to know about a marriage is not about studies or family background. But it’s invariably about how much dowry is being offered!

In fact, a boy is declared to be suitable for marriage if parents think that a size-able amount of money can be demanded based on the income/work, etc. The girl is declared to be suitable for marriage, if their parents are able to arrange the required funds to be given as dowry. And then, there are relatives. In some communities, relatives get commission (for connecting boy’s family and girl’s family) depending on the dowry amount facilitated by them!

My Questions:

  1. Is dowry a substitute to work? I know many families whose main source of income and main source of building a house, etc is the money obtained illegally through dowry. Many people don’t take up any credible work outside home and some of them just sit and eat in their homes because they have got the bumper ‘dowry’ prize!
  2. Do you think once the money is given, people will stop asking for it? Don’t you think dowry is the seed for life-long demands from the boy’s family?
  3. Is dowry given by the girl’s side to control their daughter and son-in-law by making them economically dependent on the parents?
  4. Isn’t dowry illegal? How can a whole nation shamelessly break the law? Does it mean that we don’t value the laws set by our representatives, for our own good?
  5. If you think dowry benefits women, it definitely doesn’t. It just enslaves women and makes them dependent on the money earned by others. It discourages them from working and being independent.
  6. Is the amount of dowry given during marriages a way to show-off one’s social status? I have seen cars (given as dowry) proudly displayed outside marriage halls!
  7. Don’t people play the sudden increase in dowry amounts just before one day of the marriage and force women into submission with ‘accepted amount of dowry was never given by your parents’ dialogue?
  8. Dowry based deaths/harassments have always been happening. Do all of them come to our notice? Isn’t female infanticide, a result of dowry?
  9. With girls and boys equally educated and earning equally today, why should the girl’s side still pay dowry?
  10. Because girl’s parents paid hefty amounts in dowry, they suffer huge debts for rest of their lives. Is it right to put one’s parents who brought us up, into such a horrific situation? When they need money or some care during old age, people don’t as much turn up. Forget helping. If no dowry was involved, couldn’t girl’s parents have saved enough money to plan their own future?

The biggest question that puzzles me is – Why do girl’s parents insist on paying dowry? What do you think is the motivation for it?

Destination Infinity

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42 Replies to “Why DOWRY is BAD”

  1. I think marriage in India is more than Marriage. People use it as a stage to showcase their wealthiness, the no. of relatives and well wishers they have and how much power they hold.

    I still don’t understand the practice of digital flexes for the marriage or our corrupt politicians gracing the marriage occasions. Until they understand the true meaning of marriage we can’t or won’t avoid dowries.

  2. I agree with every word you say here – Dowry is bad – period.

    As for your questions – they are so very relevant.

    Why do girl’s parents insist on paying dowry I think it has to do with conforming with societal expectations. Some people actually believe that it is a necessity for a girl to have her dowry so that she can get ‘respect’ in her in-laws place. What we need is public naming and shaming of dowry giving and taking. These days people just call it ‘gifts that the girl’s family willingly gives’. Why? Why should a girl’s family give anything? Why one-sided gifts? People have to stop thinking of a girl as part of another family as soon as she gets married – then perhaps the need to give gifts( dowry) will stop. Simply calling dowry gifts is no solution. All those people displaying dowry should be made to feel ashamed of themselves. Men should be ashamed of accepting such gifts – then perhaps things will change. As of now, it is a prestige thing.

    Once people start thinking on these lines – hopefully dowry will stop.

    1. If taking dowry is the only way to get ‘respect’ in the in-laws place, there is something seriously wrong with either the in-laws or the girl. If they are voluntary gifts, the boy’s side should match it, no?

      I wonder if it is prestige or fear or coercion? Dowry has to stop, it doesn’t have much options before it. It’s just rearing its ugly head before drowning.

      Destination Infinity

      1. I had another thought – maybe the evils of dowry should be part of school syllabus -social studies or something. And the shame needs to be properly emphasized – then maybe the youngsters at least might want to stay away from dowry. These days, even some young people justify it – which is beyond my understanding!

    1. That is a good point. People don’t fear the dowry law. No one reports such things to the police station and the police doesn’t take up such cases on its own. Only if people start thinking of this as a social evil, will they ever take up such cases to police station. What’s that point of slapping a dowry harassment case when the dowry was ‘voluntarily’ given by the girl’s side during marriage?

      Destination Infinity

  3. This practice is reducing slowly. Earlier girls were not educated and were not working. Now they early equally like the boy.

    Last week my grand niece got married. The boy’s people didn’t even bothered to come home when invited to see the silver/gold things! Whatever you give, make a list and keep a copy with you and a copy with the girl. Let her open a locker in her name and you can deposit those things there. Let the girl take care of those things.

    I think times are changing for the better. This happened in earlier 2 weddings too!

    1. Why give things in the first place? Girls can inherit their parents money, like boys. Just let them inherit when the time comes. When they are young, there are supposed to work hard and make a future for themselves.

      Destination Infinity

      1. The mother wanted to give so many things, but the girl refused to take the responsibility of taking care of them! So, some were given. This becomes a prestige issue for the parents, I think and only one child! It will take some more years to change.

        1. My husband didn’t take anything from our family, even vessels for the family!

          Hopefully, we too plan not to take anything for my sons…but still waiting for them to get their girls!

      2. ‘Prestige issue’ is the blanket behind which parents hide their real intentions. Dowry will stop the day when the real intention of parents behind taking/giving dowry are clear to sons/daughters.

        Destination Infinity

  4. Dowry is a social evil and it still exists because the society refuses to shoulder the responsibility to say NO to it from both ends. That is giving dowry as well as receiving dowry.

    People use names of social status/ prestige issue to hide their underlying intentions of getting their daughters married as soon as they can and go to any extremes to help them stay married (that’s the reason this evil is rarely ever reported to police).

    I agree to most of your questions.

    1. Another point – People feel that when a lot of dowry is involved, its difficult to break a marriage because the boys side can never give back all that amount (in case they take it all). So, they stay together because of their inability to part with ‘bulk amount’ initially, and than for their kids, later on. Can marriage hang on to its life with a thinner rope than this? It’s strange that we are trying to save systems that were supposed to keep people happy and secure!

      Destination Infinity

  5. points 5 and 9 – EXACTLY!!! that is the main thing

    and even i wonder why parents of the girl say, “no no you must accept all this. it is our love.. you are our son-in-law. pls take this”

    i wont give dowry for my daughter. if someone wants to marry her, he must for her own sake otherwise go to hell. she can fend for herself!

    very good post Rajesh – the issue tackled threadbare

    1. I think they want to control their son-in-law and make the new couple dependent on them, by offering such unwanted money/things. I wish all parents of daughters think like you…

      Destination Infinity

  6. Marriages as someone mentioned are a way to show off basically , I am always thinking how can people spend so much and waste all that money .. which can actually be used for some wellbeing…

    and no matter what people say they dont take dowry not this or that yet it happens almost everywhere .. now its is called GIFTS… what you give is the gift ot ur daughter etc etc

    dowry is a menance…


    1. Why the compelling urge to take ‘free’ money that does not belong to us? What kind of example are we setting? Can’t people see that if the boys side is demanding a lot of ‘gifts’, its not going to be a peaceful abode for their daughter?

      Destination Infinity

  7. Dowry should not be taken and it is illegal too.
    Some bride’s parents probably feel better giving money to groom’s side and not the girl. This could be the motivation for giving dowry.
    A newly wed girl sometimes get mentally and physically assaulted by demands of dowry. Some of the cases are really bad and the girl is not in a state to talk properly also. She cannot go back to her parent’s place fearing social stigma. The boy is to be blamed for this. He has never found love in being with the girl and he may be suffering from unhealthy sexual habits.
    Fie on people who enjoy dowry money. Again the problem is with the boy. He is showing his inability to earn and enjoys dowry money.

    1. Oh, men and women equally throng for ‘free’ dowry money… If women were so good, dowry would have been abolished by now. Both seem to want it, and to me it looks more of a woman thing – with all the jewelery involved. My question is – why marry daughter knowing that in-laws are very demanding and then feel upset that she is not happy? If girl’s parents decide that they’ll marry their daughters only in places where there is no dowry demand, as per today’s situation, there is nothing that boys parents do, but comply.

      Destination Infinity

  8. Many many such evils exist in the Indian society and I guess another generation should pass before we can expect a huge change.. I’m seeing gradual changes in my own family..It is not what it was ten years ago..

    1. I think it depends on the people involved. There are opportunists present today as well who will not think twice before selling their sons/daughters.

      Destination Infinity

  9. In the old days, husbands who were bought were those who voluntary accepted a woman who was not able to marry for some reason or the other.
    Today dowry taking families all sell their sons. Greed, nothing else.

    1. And all the families seem to be seeking dowry? The whole of India has suddenly become greedy? One day, when guys will have to pay to get marry to girls, they will feel that they should not have started the practice in the first place.

      Destination Infinity

  10. For some marriage is a business.We will give X amount of cash,gold,vehicle and furniture.You give 3 pattu sarees and gold chain to my daughter (girls father actually said this).That girl is educated and earns more then the guy and guy never intended to ask for the dowry as he has enough and earns well.That girl’s dad said this is his standard (i don’t know by standard what he meant).It is evil to take dowry and its changing now.My husband and his brothers didn’t take dowry.

    People tell me to save money to give dowry to my two girls.First girls should say they won’t marry if dowry is given and boys should tell their parents not to beg for the dowry.

    Our law won’t do anything,it is the people who should say no to dowry,let the girl remain un-married or let her find a boy who doesn’t want to take dowry.I feel sad when i see the girls parent to struggle to get money to pay the dowry…..

    1. You know what shocks me? Girls parents struggle so hard (most of the time take a loan) to do the marriage and arrange for the dowry, but they seem so proud of having done all that! They don’t think as much as how they are going to spend their retirement or how they are going to finish off the debt. It is like some kind of a duty that they are compelled to complete to reach a milestone in their lives!

      I think its sheer brainwash. Girls parents should come forward and ask why should we give dowry? In some cases, even if the boys refuse to take dowry, the relatives/parents force them to. Its a bitter fight, actually.

      Destination Infinity

  11. I agree with you as also Sandhya. The “blanket” continues to be there but as you said in the second part of your reply to Nita, the days are not far away. Already there is a shortage of girls and very many eligible boys are wandering.

    1. Still dowry is not dying? I wonder why girls parents are still proudly giving away dowry to their daughters?

      Destination Infinity

  12. There are a lot of my female friends who think that now it is high time that guy’s family start giving dowry… I completely disagree. Dowry in itself is a bad ritual, whether it is a guy’s or a gal’s family has to do it under duress!! I am not sure when will things change in our country, even educated young boys want it (i have more than enough colleagues to vouch for that!)… Sigh!

    1. First of all, we should reduce the expenses involved in an average Indian wedding. Especially when only the girls side need to foot the whole bill and pay a huge amount of dowry as well (most of the time they struggle to do it).

      Don’t even talk about our ‘educated’ youth. They seem to be the first in line to get anything that is given to them for ‘free’. Or, what they think is being given to them for free!

      Destination Infinity

  13. It is such a shame that dowry still prevails in Modern India! As long as there are people giving dowry, there will be families asking/demanding for them. If only instead of keeping their mouth mum and give dowry, if the girls’ family raise a complaint – no one would dare ask. But the family is scared for the girl’s life!

    1. I don’t understand what’s there to be scared about the girl? If they find a decent family that doesn’t take dowry, maybe the girl might have a better life?

      Destination Infinity

  14. First of all its v hard to find a decent match if your daughter is more than a graduate/working/not fair etc, after that if a decent match is found and they ask for dowry, parents who dont want to let go of the match tend to fulfill the demands. Moreover today’s youth so called software professionals etc (for example my hubby’s colleagues) actually say it loud that they will be asking this much cuz they see dowry as a shortcut money to house/car!!
    In this respect, thankfully, in Bengalis it is a shameful thing if a family asks for dowry. so there is very less dowry culture in us.

    1. I am happy to know that at least Bengalis think that asking for dowry is a shameful thing. In the South, parents never talk about dowry but the commission agents (relatives) who arrange for the match usually ‘close’ the deal. I find the practice of paying relatives for arranging a marriage, too shoddy.

      Destination Infinity

  15. This is the bestest article I have read in recent times. Hard hitting and true to the core. I am a Bunt from south karnataka, a shetty, and hell I know about dowry. I married a maharashtrain guy, and my mum didnot have to just trhow some 20-30 lks on me, or rather on my would be hubby. This dowry stuff boils me to no end!! Its as if, people are selling and buying girls, instead of marrying one. No wonder, the girl child is still killed. This is one of the main reasons isn’t it?

    I am following your blog Rajesh. I just loved it. Going through your posts now in random.

    1. I think that girl’s parents should start saying, ‘No, I can’t give any dowry’, irrespective of whether they may lose a particular groom or not. I wonder why they give in to the pressures created by the boy’s family.

      Destination Infinity

  16. I think that thats why peoples wants dowry because if a man is shopkeeper so they think how a shopkeepar can live a good life with my daughter so they wants dowry for their daughter,
    And thats why people take dowry and dont want that dowry should be stop because they r
    But Now if a man is Well educated so a man can get too much more dowry against them by his salary so here what needs to take dowry…???

  17. My region doesn’t have this ill practice and I am so proud of my people. I lived in south india for few years and I know the pressure it puts on girls. As you said, irrespective of whether the guy is good or not, girl’s parents should refuse any alliance asking for dowry. To be honest, the way parents make matches through horoscope and dowry is downright disgusting!!

  18. Dowry is social evil but people still taking na how to stop tis…iam facing tis problem ..iam a girl studied in convent from play class ,,,u all know how much money need in convent school though iam well educated and completing degree my parents giving dowry to groom my marriage is fixed bt the real problem is dowry v r middle class people my parents struggled a lot to educate us now struggling a lot to pay dowry,,,groom n his parents demanding to giv money,gold,furniture,vessels & wedding dress,,,if v give tis all wher is the money to do marriage n wat abt my sister n brother education ….pls help me n save me not only its my problem all girls also facing tis problem so pls save all girls parents from tis evil

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