Culture is the enduring behavior ideas attitudes and tradition shared by a large group of people and transmit it to one generation to the next. India is one of those countries that has strong influence by culture.
The custom of dowry, long entrenched in India s male dominant society , has attained alarming proportions during the last few decades. There is hardly a day when the cries of dowry victims are not echoed by the media. One day we read that the bride was burned to death as she failed to bring in the expected dowry. The next day we come across a case where the bride was taken out on the pretext of sightseeing and pushed from the hill top and these are just those cases which are reported in the media. Apart from these we also have brides who are constantly harassed physically or mentally for failures to bring sufficient dowry.
Dowry normally means given during the marriage to the son in law of his parents either in cash or kind. The most common elements of dowry in India include gifts such as clothes, jewelry, house, cars and other household goods. The dowry based marriages in Indian society are imposing a heavy burden on the bride s parents, especially on those who are not rich. The practice of dowry is glaring in parts of India where the status of women is less important than dowry. All these do indicate how the positions of women has brought down in the Indian society. This necessarily shapes a different bent of mind and attitudes of people in the contemporary Indian society in general and urban society in particular.
Some people says Dowry in modern time in India is not a chance event but a product of emergence and development of social forces over a period of time. Going back to past traditions marriage, to an Indian is one of the twelve sacraments enjoyed upon religion for purifying the body from inherited taints. So it is a religious necessity than a major physical luxury.
Dowry today is being demanded and paid without any relation to the bride s father income and wealth. With the increase desire for quick money and the luxuries of life these demands are not confine to the rich and the middle class alone, but also for the lower class. Failure to meet these demands results in ill treatment of young wife s often driving them to commit suicide and in many instances they have been murdered. Dowry is also view as compensation. According to the view the system of bride price is closely link with women s roll in the productive activity. Among the upper and the middle class women they are not allow to work so their contribution to the productive system is negligible and hence they are burden on their parents. Therefore, when they are given in marriage the grooms parents will have to bare this burden. They are therefore compensated in the form of money and goods. Many parents who are poor leave their child if the baby turns out to be a girl.
Life s struggle for survival in an era of uneven development and resultant tension also shapes the mode of orientation of people of different status. For example an arrangement of marriage in India depends on not only on the traditional or customary considerations like cast, religion, age that also on the modern calculations like education, employment and wealth.
Dowry as a social phenomenon as aroused much public concern in temporary Indian society which is going a transitional phase under the capitalist heart with an uneven development. Well intentioned citizens and voluntary organizations started voicing their concerns against it. Despite all these we still find dowry based marriages throughout India.
Kumari, Ranjane. Brides are not for burning.(1989) Radiant Publisher, New Delhi.
Paul, Maden. Dowry and position of women in India.(1986) Inter-India publication, New Delhi.