Dowry – How much do you cost?

My cousin is going to get married soon, maybe in December this year. My relative who has a permanent job in a bank is too much interested in getting people married. He knows several families who want to get their daughters and sons married. He asked my uncle to get his son married with one of his relative’s daughters. This girl is doing a masters from the Sanskrit University and my cousin works for a travel agency in Delhi. My cousin is crazy about getting married. He has always wanted to get married and now it seems like his dream is going to come true.

Neither of bride nor groom have talked to each other ever in their lives. It is all arranged by the family. They were presented in front of each other a few days ago when my cousin was in Varanasi and that’s all. He saw the bride and liked her and decided that she was the girl for him. It was his engagement yesterday. He called me a few days ago and he was telling me that the girl will not be good for Delhi because she has completed her studies in Varanasi through the Sanskrit board but he will still marry her because she has only one other sister.

He said that after her father dies, he and the husband of the other sister will get all the assets. He was most happy about having their own house in Varanasi. He asked me how much that kind of house would cost and when I said that it would cost something like five hundred thousand rupees, he became more happy, started laughing and said that his bride is worth at least two hundred fifty thousand rupees at present and her value will increase with time. He asked how long will her father be alive; five years? ten years? fifteen years; and after his death he will get half of the property.

His engagement was something different because neither the bride nor the groom will be present during the engagement. Only families will meet and do some formalities. The bride’s father gave Rs. 10,000 ($200), a few fruits, some sweets and a suit for the groom. The wedding will be held on 12th of December at which time rest of the things will be given. I heard that the bride’s father will give Rs. 50,000 in cash, a gold chain for the groom, five kinds of gold jewelleries and clothes for bride, and other household stuffs like a bed, refrigerator, wardrobe, TV, music system etc… all these things will be given on the wedding day.

Since they have already given Rs. 10,000, they have to give only Rs. 40,000 more on the wedding day.Groom has asked for cash instead of household stuffs because his wedding will be held in Varanasi but he lives in Delhi, and he has already bought a few household furnishings like a TV and a bed in Delhi for him. The groom has planned to spend the money given by the bride’s side to prepare for his wedding which means he will not have to spend anything from his own pocket but bride’s family will have to spend a lot.

The bride’s father is a retired employee of Municipality of Varanasi. He worked as a temporary employee for most of his life which means he would be getting something like Rs. 2000-3000 per month; I am sure not more than that for a temporary employee. He became a permanent employee in 1999 and got his retirement in 2008 which means he made good money only for nine years. I am sure he will spend a good part of his savings on this wedding. I think my cousin should not have asked for cash instead of household stuffs if he has already bought them but…

This wedding seems more like a business setup where one party will win the game and will make good amount of money, and other party will lose everything, and even they will even have someone wishing for their death. Dowry has become a huge problem in India and is one of the biggest reasons behind decreasing rate of sex ratio. I used to think that dowry would decrease with the decrease of sex ratio but it never changed actually. Ratio of girls has been decreasing continuously and dowry is increasing. People joke sometimes saying that grooms will have to give dowry in the future because there will be fewer girls but when I look at the people like my cousin, it seems to me that this joke will be only a joke forever.

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