to a princess from Golconda; Akbar setting the paradigm when Jahangir married thedaughter of Raja Bawagan Das; Catherine of Braganza, the non-Indian, marrying CharlesII and bringing with her the island of Bombay as her dowry system traversed over emperors reign, region and religion.
The traditional ideas such as ‘
’ and ‘
’ should not be mixedor mingled with today’s dowry. The ‘
’ assets that were given to the bridegroom by the feudal land owning class later assumed nomenclature of dowry. This dowrysystem was intended to indicate the affluence of the feudal landlords and was a statussymbol to offer gifts to the bridegroom. Today, it has taken cancerous dimension,acquiring a very new phenomenon and becoming a permanent trait in the lives of theworking middle class even.Under the impact of liberalization and the growing consumerism, the practice of dowry has intensified and expanded its reach. Today, Indian weddings are occasions for conspicuous spending with the invitation of numerous acquaintances, parking of carsoutside the wedding hall, costly clothing and jewelry, the cash given to the groom, thelavish dinners, the
lights, band music, processions etc. There is an attempt toequate these tendencies of show-off to ‘
’, which is only an attempt to legitimizea modern monstrosity by linking it up with an ancient respected custom. For the poor, ithas turned to be an obligation to marry off their daughters with dowry, with whatever their economic means. Hence, the whole system acts to pauperize families and makedaughters a curse. As the customs have taken the form of a compulsive nature, what issurprising is that the imposture has had so much success.Countless stories of horror, brutality, cruelty and cold-blooded murder in thename of dowry is reported which could rip apart any heart with the crudity of their details. Today dowry seems to have disappeared from national consciousness eventhough thousands of women continue to be burnt, poisoned, electrocuted or forced to2