Who actually gets married? A motorbike dowry story.

This question that has always been in my mind is who actually gets married- the bride and groom or their family? It is so common to hear people getting married but then there are few stories associated with these weddings that makes me confused about who actually got married- the bride and groom or the family. It was my cousin’s wedding few days ago and I also went to attend it. Everything seemed fine to me, actually I liked it because I got to see a village wedding which is obviously more traditional than weddings taking place in Indian cities nowadays.

But I heard some things about the wedding that shocked me completely. I am very much interested in this crazy concept of dowry so I asked my cousins about it like what dowry did the bride family have to give and one cousin told me a crazy story about the motorbike the bride’s family had to give as dowry. He said that when the bride’s family asked the groom about what motorbike would he like to take, the groom asked for the Bajaj motorbike called Platina because he liked it and the bride’s family bought this motorbike about two months before the wedding.

After buying the motorbike, the bride’s family informed my cousin’s family that they had bought a Bajaj Platina but my uncle did not like this bike. He liked a Hero Honda bike so he asked the bride’s family to return the Bajaj bike and buy a Hero Honda one. Since the bride’s family had already bought Bajaj Platina and had paid for it, it was hard for them to return this bike and get their cash back. So they said that they had already asked the groom what bike would he like to have and the groom had asked for a Bajaj Platina and that was the reason they bought it.

But my uncle said that they should have asked him instead of the groom. Actually the groom works in a city called Korbain M.P. which is like 30 hours of train ride from my village and my uncle said that since the groom lives far away and doesn’t need a bike for his work, he would not drive the bike, the bike would be used by my uncle. It was a big problem for the bride’s family to return the bike so they involved the bride in this matter. They asked the bride to talk with the brothers and sisters of the groom and tell them that she liked Bajaj better than Honda and that is why she had asked her father to buy Bajaj bike.

She talked with the brothers and sisters of the groom and told them about her choice and asked them to convey her message to her father-in-law but again my uncle did not entertain the bride. He said that this bike would not be used by the groom, it would be used by he himself so he wanted a bike of his choice. Finally the bride’s family paid some penalty and returned the Bajaj bike and bought a new Hero Honda one, which was of course neither the groom’s nor the bride’s choice; it was choice of my uncle.

The bride’s family lost something like Rs. 10,000. It was crazy to see that the groom and bride had no control over their wedding. What was the need to ask for a bike if it was not going to be used by either the groom or bride??? Who actually was getting married- the bride and groom or my uncle??? I saw my uncle driving the bike the very next day after the wedding. I don’t know when the bride will ride the bike her father had bought. After attending the wedding I came back to Varanasi, but again heard something that was just unbelievable.

The bride came to groom’s house after the wedding and then she was supposed to live with the groom. After ten days of wedding the groom went back to his work in Korba but the bride was still living at the groom’s village house with her in-laws. I asked my cousin about it and he said that it is village tradition for the bride to stay at her in-laws house for at least two years after the wedding. So now the groom is in Korba and the bride is living with her in-laws.

I am sure that the bride would have loved going to Korba with her husband and she could not because of this crazy culture. She just cooks the food, looks after her in-laws, cleans the dishes, clean the house… that’s all. She is still 19 year old and she needs to go to school and I am sure that she would have loved to continue her studies but… It would be easy for her to keep her studies continued if she was living with her husband in Korba because she would have fewer responsibilities there. But… I don’t know when these things will changeand women will have equal rights in India, but hope is always there…

Group wedding of 32 poor couples

Chairs for couples

Chairs for couples

Lok Samiti organized a group wedding of 32 poor couples again this year on 10th of May. It was again a huge event where more than 8,000 people were present. I reached there around 1 o’clock afternoon time and saw all the families preparing for the wedding; people were so excited. Lok Samiti had organized this wedding at a Hanuman Temple near Rajatalab, Varanasi. Definitely the temple did not have enough space for that many people so they had organized everything right behind the temple on an open space. They had a tent where there was a well-decorated stage for couples.

Groom swearing to not ask for dowry in future

Groom swearing to not ask for dowry in future

Lok Samiti had also arranged food for the people who had come to attend the wedding. The main idea behind organizing group wedding is stopping dowry and helping poor people get married. Since this wedding is registered and everything is organized by Lok Samiti, the groom’s family could not even think about asking for any dowry to the bride’s family because they sign a document saying that they will never ask for any dowry in the future. I really like this idea. All the couples who had got married under these condition were extremely poor that they could not get married on their own.

Bicycles for grooms

Bicycles for grooms

Lok Samiti gave bicycles to all the grooms and sewing machines to the brides so that they can be self dependent. Actually a lot of people come to Varanasi city area from the villages to work and the idea behind giving bicycles is that these people can use theses bicycles to come to Varanasi and work. The same idea is behind giving sewing machines as well, that the brides could do some sewing work and make some money. A lot of people from different parts of India and abroad had donated money to make this noble event true. I was responsible to bring some foreign donation.

Groom with traditional wedding dress

Groom with traditional wedding dress

Lok Samiti’s members had been collecting donations for the past three months and finally they had collected donations worth Rs. 2,60,000 which included cash, grains, clothes etc. The MP (member of Parliament) from Rajatalab area was the biggest donor who had donated Rs. 66,000 and his wife was second biggest donor who had donated sarees worth Rs. 15,000. The same way several people donated and gifted a lot of different things. I was also told to give something but I could not because of this crazy economy and no work for me. Last year I had donated clocks to all the couples on behalf of Sanjeevani Booti.

The bride

The bride

Lok Samiti had appointed a few people in different villages to see if anybody wanted to get married under group wedding and these people went to all the villagers asking about it. First of all they chose the boys and then told them about the girls who wanted to get married. They introduced their families to each other and fixed the wedding. I heard that some of the couples had come from other districts. All the couples were different ages, some of them seemed over 40 and some of them seemed only 15-16 years old, I am not sure about it but Lok Samiti said that they choose only people who are over 18.

group wedding

group wedding

Lok Samiti had organized the group wedding for 30 couples but at some point it seemed like all 30 couples would not be present there. But at last not only 30, but 32 couples got married. Two of the guests just decided to get married. They chose a bride who was also a guest there and informed Nandlal Master, President of Lok Samiti. Lok Samiti had arranged only 30 chairs, specially designed for weddings, �so they had to bring two normal chairs on the stage and these two other couples also got married.

sindorr box

sindoor box

This group wedding was a little bit different from the usual Hindu wedding. In this wedding couples adorned each other with flower garlands first, grooms put sindoor on the bride’s head, held the�hand with each other (symbol of long lasting relationship), and circled the Hanuman temple seven times instead of the fire. After all these things the families were free to do whatever rituals or other things they wanted. After completing the seven circles, grooms and brides returned to the tent and then families completed other rituals.

looks like over 18?

looks like over 18?

It was really so fun and interesting. This year’s wedding seemed more liberal from the bride’s point of view because all the brides were told to show their faces. In the last year’s wedding all the brides faces were covered with their saree. Although brides had come up on the stage with their faces covered; later Lok Samiti told all the brides to show their faces. It was so fun to see 32 couples getting married same time. My overall experience was nice but there were a few things that I did not understand; like I saw a few brides sleeping. It seemed like they were not interested in being married or maybe getting married doesn’t mean anything to them.

sindoordan

sindoordan

Lok Samiti is planning to organize a group wedding of 51 couples again next year on the 10th of May. Actually they have chosen this date because it is the wedding anniversary of the MP (Member of Parliament) from Rajatalab area. And since he is always the biggest donor and help for this wedding, they have decided that they will organize this wedding again and again on the same date. I am excited for the next year and hope to see all the brides and grooms excited and laughing and awake.

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.

HIV & AIDS workshop at girls’ school

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Presentation for class 9th

We organized a workshop at Gopi Radha Girls School in Varanasi where Sanjeevani Booti’s social workers and volunteers did a presentation about HIV and AIDS. We had been thinking of it for a long time and it finally became true. We did presentations for the 9th and 11th class girls. We wanted to do it for 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th class but school did not permit us to do a presentation for 10th and 12th class girls because their exams are going to start soon. We did the presentation for 11th class on the 11th and for 9th class on the 12th of Feb.

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Sanjeevani Booti's social workers with schools kids

We had planned to send one girl and one boy to each class but again the school did not permit us to send males so I had to send only girls to the school. I have very good girls now who are interested in this issue, but they don’t want to volunteer, they want a paid job. But it’s okay, I know that it is hard to find people who are interested in working for free. But this makes my project tough because I don’t have regular donors and I do not want to be dependent on a few individuals. I need new people who could support my projects financially.

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A social worker giving presentation

We had two foreigners also who helped us to make this event successful. One of them is Claire Abraham from Montreal, Canada, and the other one is Christina Hunter from San Fransisco, USA. Claire had been helping me for the past one month. She provided me lots of information and trained Sanjeevani Booti’s social workers. She was a big help but unfortunately she could only attend the workshop on the 11th. She had to go to Nepal to get her visa extended. Christina joined us only on the second day.

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Sanjeevani booti's social workers with school staffs

A few girls told us to show condoms to them, to talk about sex, and to talk about sexually transmitted diseases but we could not show them condoms because I was concerned about the school administration’s reaction. The girls want us to organize a big workshop for them where they can get deep knowledge over the subject. But I don’t know when I will be able to organize it because this is an expensive process. I am in touch with a few doctors and social workers from other organizations to make the coming event successful.

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class 9th

I thought it would be great for the kids to hear about HIV from the people living with HIV. There is a network of HIV positive people in Varanasi and I think I can bring some of them to the event. Everything was great but Iam concerned about the future. I think I need grant proposals but I don’t know how to write them. Claire had promised to teach this to me and I am looking forward to it. She is supposed to be back within next few days.

Neetu in Pain

Neetu is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives with one of my relatives in Mau district. She was thrown out in the garbage right near Mau railway station after she came on our planet. She was in the garbage and just kept weeping and weeping. A lot of people were there but they were just watching her crying and not doing anything. Nobody picked her up from the garbage. One of my relatives saw Neetu crying and then he could not stop himself picking her up from the garbage. He picked her up and brought her to his place.

He showed Neetu to his wife and his wife started yelling at him. She was angry at her husband because they had already seven kids, two daughters and five sons. She did not want to keep Neetu but her husband told her that Neetu was in the garbage and if he puts her again in garbage, maybe some animal would kill her. They still did not know that Neetu was a female. They were thinking that Neetu was a male baby. Finally aunt took Neetu inside her house and gave her a bath. While giving the bath she realized that Neetu was a female baby.

She started crying thinking that how will she manage Neetu because she had already two more daughters. She was concerned about the dowry for Neetu’s wedding. Aunt again told uncle to take Neetu out of the house. But uncle did not want to do it. Finally they agreed on keeping Neetu in the house. Now Neetu is sixteen years old and has passed 10th class with good marks. My aunt died a few years ago and now my uncle lives with Neetu. My uncle’s other children do not take care of him. My uncle is now old and retired from his job and his children don’t want to see him anymore. They live somewhere away from his place and not take care of him.

Now my uncle is completely dependent on Neetu and is very proud of his decision of making Neetu part of his family. But he is concerned about Neetu’s wedding. He wants Neetu to get married as soon as possible and has been looking for a groom for Neetu. But the problem is that when people hear that she was found in garbage, nobody wants to marry her. Neetu wants to live with my uncle but he wants her to get married because he is not sure what will happen with Neetu after his death.

Neetu lives in Mau district which is kind of undeveloped district even on Indian standard therefore the society is very very male dominating. None of uncle’s son want to help Neetu and it is also one of the biggest concerns of uncle. I have heard of people rejecting girls if they think that girl is not beautiful or is not educated or is not fare or whatever strange reasons but this is first time when I heard people rejecting a girl because she was found on garbage. She is being punished for the reason she is not responsible for.

I think Neetu needs to get married and it will be better for her to get married before uncle dies because there will no one for her after uncle’s death but I don’t know if it possible. The way uncle has been looking for the groom for past two years and every time people rejected Neetu, it seems like it will be very hard for uncle to find a groom for Neetu. Uncle wanted to get Neetu married in the same caste but now he has changed his decision and is agree to accept even a inter-caste groom but still no hope for Neetu. People hear that she was found in garbage and reject her right away.

I don’t know how to help Neetu but I hope that someday she will get her dream boy. I don’t know when people will stop discriminating between girls and boys. I see this problem because in Indian society boys are given more importance than girls. A lot of people get aborted if they have a female baby because sometimes they are concerned about the dowry, and sometime they just don’t like the females. The people who have only girls have hard time in our society. People criticize you in different ways if you have only daughters.

Sometimes they say that there will be no one to give you shoulder (carry your body) when you die. The thing to be noticed is that only males are allowed to give shoulder to a dead body. I don’t think it is a problem if females give you shoulder. And now it is happening. I heard of lot of cases where somebody died and he had only daughters and these daughters gave shoulder to their father and cremated the body. It sounded strange to a lot of people but I don’t see it as any problem. Hinduism has give very high place to girls but I don’t know when and where the problem came from. But I still have a hope that someday there will be no discrimination between boys and girls and girls like Neetu will not be thrown out in the garbage again.

Nisha in Pain

Nisha is my neighbor. She moved into my neighborhood about four years ago when she married one of my friend’s brother. She is my wife’s friend also. My wife says that her life before marriage was always painful. Her parents were so poor. One of her cousins used to help her family. He was a government employee. But he was not helping Nisha’s family because of their being his cousin’s family but because he wanted to molest Nisha. He used to make physical relations with Nisha forcibly saying that if she would resist it, he would stop helping her family.

Nisha never wanted to go with her cousin but he would come and harass her in front of her friends. She would just weep and could not do anything accept let her cousin do what he wanted. It continued for several years before her marriage, and even after marriage whenever she visited her family. Her cousin now tells her that if she doesn’t make relations with him, he will inform her husband about their relations. She still goes to her sometimes only because she is scared of her husband coming to know about her relations with her cousin.

The above story was told by my wife but I know what happened to her after marriage because she is my neighbor and my friend’s sister-in-law. Right after her marriage she was under huge pressure for dowry. Her husband would beat her nd tell her to bring some money from her family but her parents were so poor so obviously she would accept to be beaten but not ask her parents to give her husband money. Her mother-in-law would not let her husband sleep with her. They slept in different rooms until Nisha’s mother-in-law died.

She would cook the food for the whole family, clean the clothes, clean the home, and get beaten. This was her whole life. She could not even sleep with her husband. Finally she became mentally disturbed. But her husband did not take care of this family. He sent Nisha to her family. Nisha again stayed with her parents for six-seven months, until she became normal again, and during the same time she was again abused by her cousin. Finally she was okay and came back to her husband’s family but this was not end of her problems. She was beaten continuously and was told to bring some money from her parents.

Finally one of her problems ended when her mother in law died but it was beginning of another problem. Now her sister in law got involved in her life. Now she started behaving like Nisha’s mother-in-law. But she did not stop her from sleeping with her husband. Now Nisha gave birth to a male baby. I am sure it was a big help for her. If she had given birth to a female baby, it could have been a huge problem for her.

Her devil husband would have not liked having a female baby, or maybe she went under ultrasound before giving birth to check the sex of the baby. I can believe it because her family seems like they can do anything horrible. Now Nisha’s son is one year old but the problem is that her sister in law doesn’t want her baby to be with her. Her other sister in law keeps the baby busy with her so that he could forget his mother. She always keeps the baby and plays with him, feeds him etc…

Nisha wants to see her baby but she can’t even see him because her husband and sister-in-law won’t let the baby go to his mother. About seven months ago, when the baby was only five months old, Nisha’s husband sent the baby to his other sister in Delhi. The baby still used to breastfeed from his mother but when feeding was immediately stopped, it created tremendous pain in Nisha’s breasts. She was crying in pain loudly because her breasts were full of milk. She wanted her baby to feed from her, but the baby was sent to Delhi. Her husband was not at home this time. Finally neighbors heard her crying and took her to the hospital.

She was fainted by the time she reached the hospital. The Doctor told her to breast-feed immediately. The Doctor said that she would die if her baby doesn’t come and feeds from the mother. Now neighbors called her husband expecting that he would do something. But her husband started beating her in the hospital. The doctor wanted Nisha to be admitted to the hospital so that they could take the milk out of her breast but her husband did not want it. He called his sister who had the baby now.

She also started abusing Nisha. She said why don’t you tell the doctor to stop the milk forever. Nisha’s husband told the doctor to stop the milk. Finally the doctor did something and stopped the milk. Nisha was still in tremendous pain. The doctor kept telling Nisha’s husband to admit Nisha in the hospital for few days but he did not do it. He brought Nisha back home and and started beating her. She was locked up in the room for a few days. She was not even given medicines. She would just cry and cry and nothing else.

Nisha’s husband and sister in laws want the baby to forget his mother so that they can keep the baby and kick Nisha out of the family. That’s why theytortureNisha so that either she will leave the home on her own or die or whatever. But now Nisha has no hope. She can not even go to her parents. They are so poor. Neighbors want to do something against Nisha’s husband but when they ask Nisha about it, she forbids them because she thinks if neighbors take any action against her husband, she will be killed by her sister in law and other family members.

I don’t know what will happen with Nisha but definitely something needs to happen. It is all the impact of our cultural problems where males are given more importance than the females. In Hinduism females are always given more respect than males but I don’t know when it was changed. Prepubescentgirls are prayed to in some rituals. We have the concept of giving high respect to the females but I don’t know who changed it and when. People say that India is developing but what kind of development is this where females don’t have equal rights? Is only male India developing?

We have the most number of professional girls in the whole world which is a very good example for us and it is all the impact of the last twenty years since India has started developing. Our girls have the guts to climb to the top within only twenty years. Isn’t it amazing? Why not promote them? But the reality is something different. In few states like Hariyan, UP, Bihar… the female sex ratio is still decreasing. I hope to see the change but I don’t know when I will actually see it, maybe not in my lifetime.

Diwali 2008

It was Diwali yesterday and I enjoyed it a lot. I had invited a few couchsurfers to celebrate Diwali with me. I invited two US students and two British travelers. They came to my home around 6 o’clock and were just sharing their travel experiences of India. Later uncle Udo also joined us. My mother did puja first and then we decorated the whole house with candles. Usually I don’t buy or fire crackers, but this year I had lots of crackers because a few of my friends had bought some.

We went on the roof and fired crackers. It was first time in the last fifteen years that I fired crackers. I don’t like this because it damages the atmosphere. The smoke could be easily felt in the atmosphere during Diwali which I don’t like. I better like to decorate my home with candles, have good food, invite people over dinner etc… A lot of people in Varanasi gamble during Diwali night. I had also gambled last year at Bunti’s family place for the first time in my life. They had invited me this year also but I could not go.

Diwali is a very important festival for Aghoris. They do some special puja at the funeral place in the night between 12 and 1. I really wanted to see it but I again I missed it this year because the guy who was supposed to come with me didn’t call me. I was just waiting for him, and finally it was over 1 o’ clock so I couldn’t go. After firing crackers we had dinner. We had lots of good food, sweets, it was so nice last night. I really enjoyed it.

I had heard a lot about threats for foreign girls in Varanasi after it gets dark, but I never thought it was true. I have seen all the guide books telling that foreign girls should not wander alone in Beanres after it is dark. I always thought that it was wrong information provided by guide books. Abbie and Emily, the US students, were worried about going alone to their guest house. They wanted me to come with them. I went with them and I realized that guide books were true.

People were just commenting on these foreign girls. Somebody brought crackers and wanted them to fire them. Somebody was saying that they were so beautiful, somebody wanted to harrash them… It was overwhelming. I never knew that these things happen in Varanasi also. Maybe it happens in the downtown area only, because I have never ever heard of such a thing happening around Assi neighborhood. They were stopped by five-six people. Finally they reached their guest house and I came back home.

Negotiation of dowry

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.

Rinki’s good heart and her marriage

Rinki, my uncle’s daughter, is 25 years old now and her father has been looking for a groom to get her married for the past 2 years but nobody wants to marry her because she had got her heart valves operated few years ago. My uncle went to a lot of families whom he or his friends knew to look for a groom. Everything was Ok in the beginning but as the groom’s family heard that Rinki got her heart valves operated they didn’t want Rinki to come to their family.

They think that Rinki is still sick or could get sick again in the future. She got operated by one of the most popular doctors of the world, the best in India and he also says that Rinki is perfect now and could get married anytime but the groom’s family doesn’t want to hear anything about it. It has become a big problem for my uncle, he wants to get Rinki married at any cost. He is ready to even pay dowry if groom wants but nobody agrees.

My father was also looking for a groom for Rinki in Benares. My father’s friend told him about one of his relatives who has completed a Masters in Astrology and is working with his father now who is an astrologer. My father went to meet them and talked about the marriage proposal. They seemed so nice at first, didn’t believe in concept of dowry, and everything was Ok. He talked to the groom and took a photo to show to our family. Everybody liked him and now everything was dependent on Rinki’s approval.

My father informed Rinki’s father about the groom and he also came to Varanasi to meet the groom’s family. He also liked the groom and he agreed to have Rinki married to him. I was told to mail the photo of the groom to my brother because nowadays Rinki is living with him in Noida. My family wanted Rinki to see the photo of the groom and tell us about what she thinks of him. I knew Rinki would never ever tell that she didn’t like him, even if she didn’t like him, because she is very shy by nature, and because of the way people reject her.

Rinki didn’t see the photo of the groom and said that she will be happy with the guy whom her father had choosen. We also gave Rinki’s photo along with her Kundali (horoscope book) to the groom’s side. Everybody was so happy about Rinki’s wedding, they were planning to organize this wedding in February this year. My mother asked me and my brother what we would give to Rinki. Rinki’s family was also planning to come to Varanasi to start shopping for the wedding, everybody was happy.

But today the groom’s side cancelled the marriage. They said that Rinki is not as educated as the groom, which doesn’t make any sense. Groom has master’s degree in astrology and Rinki has a bachelor’s degree in arts. He went to school only two years more than Rinki. Rinki is still 25 so she could go to school again and she wants to, and she will because she also wants to have a master’s degree. I didn’t understand what happened but it made me sad, very sad. I don’t know what can I do with it.

I understand when illiterate people do these kinds of things but this groom family was educated, maybe not, otherwise why they would make this kind of excuse? Cancellation of marriages again and again will make Rinki feel guilty about herself, It will make her feel like she has become a burden for her family, It will make her think that it is her fault which it is not. I think it is fault of our male-dominant and uneducated society. I often see people violating women’s right which makes me really sad.

I think girls must have rights to talk to their life-partner before getting married and decide if they want to get married or not. But still Indian girls in small cities can’t do this because of social and family pressure. They are presented as a robot in front of grooms, they face a lot of questions, feel pressure of their father selling assets to arrange dowry for marriage, and still are not happy in their marriage life.

Sometimes the groom’s family reject girls saying that the girl is not beautiful, how can they say this to someone? A lot of people don’t want to have a girl because they are afraid of her future- obviously marriage is a part of the future. Our sex ratio in 2001 was 933 girls for 1000 boys and it is still decreasing. I don’t know what will happen in the future and when we will see girls and boys with equal rights.

Tour guide exam result

Finally the tour guide exam result is declared and I passed it. The exam was held on the 26th of August, 2007 and result was declared on 7th of November, 2008, after more than a year. Government had a hard time during this one year. They were sued four times by applicants on various reasons but finally everything is settled now. More than 50,000 applicants had applied but only 300 passed it and I got 223rd rank.

There was one very interesting thing about the result – only eight girls passed the exam. There could be two reasons behind it- either parents still don’t want their daughters to work out of the city or girls feel unsecure having this kind of job. Indian girls in small cities are highly qualified. Usually they continue their studies until they get married and usually they read history or some language which could be best for this profession. There is big demand for girl tour guides but…

Now I will go for a sixteen week training period where they will teach me about Indian history and monuments in North India. There will be fourteen weeks of classes and two weeks of touring at various monuments in North India with a professor. After completing the classes and tour they will organize another exam and the students who pass the exam will go through an interview. After passing interview tour guide license will be issued.

New tour guides are part of the preparation for the Commonwealth Games which are in 2010 so it seems like the Government will not delay starting the training, but who knows, maybe another case because after all it is the Government of India, so anything is possible. I am so excited to go for training so that I can get my license as soon as possible and start working.