It was the first time in my life when I heard a family planning about son’s marriage. My neighbor, whose son lives in Delhi after completing the 12th class of study, wants to get him married soon. They had come to my family to ask if there is any girl in our relations. It was the groom’s mother and grandmother who came to my house. They talked to my mother about his marriage. My mother knew a few people who wanted to get their daughter married.
The groom is still a student, only 26 years old, and doing some computer degree. They wanted Rs. 10,00,000 (US$25,000) cash and other home accessories like a refrigerator, washing machine, TV, music system, and a bike as dowry. Their wording with my mother was “we deserve to get what we have spent on our child’s education”. It was shocking for me to hear a family talking this way. It did not seem like a marriage proposal, it seemed more like business where they wanted all their investment back with some profit. My mother decided that she would not ask any of her relatives to allow their daughter in this family.
Rs. 10,00,000 is a huge amount for a middle class Indian family. Most people can not save this much money in their whole lives. It is still not sure that after paying this much money the groom side will not ask for something else. Usually these kind of greedy people always tell brides to bring more and more money from their family, even after getting married. I often hear about people killing brides for dowry, and its terrible. How can someone kill their own family member for money?
There is another problem with competition between son in laws. If someone has two daughters then the father will have to pay the same dowry to both girls. My one friend has four brothers. The eldest one got married about 4 years ago. Then his younger brother got married about 2 years ago. The younger brother got a bike as dowry which the elder brother had not gotten. So, he started telling his wife to ask her father to give them a bike. And finally her father had to pay them cash, even after 4 years of marriage.
My cousin also wants a car for his marriage. He works in a travel agency and makes only Rs. 6000 per month, which means he will not be able to afford petrol and other maintenance charge for a car but he still wants it. There are a few NGOs who organize dowry-free marriages but they are still not popular. Dowry is the biggest reason behind our decreasing sex ratio. There are some cultural problems also but those are not as big as dowry. I want to see change but I dont know if I will be able to see in my life, I hope to.