While my “extended” stay in Chennai I stumbled upon a truckload of some amazing facts about the Dowry system which I thought were quite extinct as far as the city-dwelling-and-riding-on-the-IT-boom GenX was concerned. An incidence in one of my friend’s office landed me back into reality. A few days back my friend saw one of his colleague making fun of another one. The talk went something like this –
Colleague 1: What??? You are getting only 12 lakhs? Nothing more?
Colleague 2: No. 12 lakhs in cash. That’s it. Maybe a car or a flat too and Gold ofcourse. But I am not sure about that.
Colleague 1: Do you know how much I am getting?
Colleague 2: How much?
Colleague 1: 67 Lakhs in cash with Gold, car and a flat. [*laughs out loud*] I really pity you [*laughs again*]
Colleague 2: [*Grumbles and becomes sad*]
When my friend told me about this, I just wanted to run into the bathroom and puke. No matter how unbelievable the chat seems to be, but it is true and it took place between two well established Engineers working in a top IT company in India. What took me by surprise was the fact that I always believed that our present, well educated, city bred generation is completely against this preposterous ritual, but this talk completely bowled me over.
What is the point of being educated when your brain still dwells into the Jurassic era? What is the point of being educated when you think that its a matter of pride to obtain a hefty sum of someones hard earned money? What is the point of being educated if you think that you can boast about your “Price” tag?
I talked to a few more friends about this and was surprised to know that in South India(*I am specifically talking about South because the friends with whom I talked to are South Indians, although this is equally prevalent in North India too*), parents spend their entire lifetime to collect gold and cash for their daughter’s marriage. There have been certain cases when the girls are not even asked whether they would “like” to marry a particular guy. They are just informed. And, yes, I am talking about girls working in an IT company.
There have been instances when the present generation has raised a voice against this. One of my friend told me about such a case when a boy refused to take in any sort of dowry. He was asked whether he has some physical anomaly because of which he is refusing?
Another friend of mine told me that her parents are really worried about her as she is past her marriageable age of 22 and will be soon going on an on-site assignment which means more delay. Her community is really worried and a very close family friend has stopped talking to her for obvious reasons, primary being that my friend has still not ended up being a child-generator. I asked her if she could bring herself to love a man who would be sitting on a substantial amount of her father’s hard earned money? Who thinks its his birthright to ask for Gold in Kilos because he is marrying you? She told me – There are many things in my life for which I have to compromise. And I am prepared for them. I told her about the case of the guy getting 67 lakhs in cash and she was not at all surprised. She informed me that there are certain communities where giving such huge dowry money is not a big deal and not to forget the kilos of gold which go with it. After the girl is selected, the second question asked is the amount of cash and the kilos of gold which can be provided. She even told of an incidence where the mother of a prospective groom asked her if she could sing!!!!
The worst part is that the present generation who have grown up in such an environment where giving and taking dowry is considered auspicious, do not think that there is anything wrong with it. Girls are not allowed to speak in front of elders and boys are “ok” with the process. One of my colleague told me that he might save his dowry money for his own daughter’s wedding, given the fact that he is still to get married.
I have started wondering if there is something wrong in our genes? If education can’t bring visible changes in our society then I wonder what will? We all know its wrong. Don’t we? But still we go ahead with it because that’s the way things have been and Ego is something very hard to kill. A social standing is more important than killing an age old ritual which is wrong? I have stopped considering India as an emerging modern society. We are still rustic at heart. What’s worse is that the virus is shamelessly passed to GenX and there is no antidote in sight. Not even education. Not even a growing economy. Not even an evolving Western Influence.
There is 1 dowry death every 4 hours in India. Can you beat that?
(the image is taken from : http://www.buy-oil-painting.com)