By Shiv Mishra:
My friend Amit got married on the 4th of February, 2016. As usual, whenever a friend of mine asks me to attend their wedding, I ask them one question. Are you taking dowry? If the answer is “Yes,” I clearly tell them that I cannot support you in your crime. I asked the same question to Amit. Seeing his financial condition and his family background, I was of the opinion that he would have asked for dowry. But to my surprise, he told me that he would not demand dowry. On this matter, he had had several heated discussions with his parents. And he faced a lot of resistance too.
Many people believe that a handsome dowry improves their reputation. Such people take pride in declaring the huge amount they received. Amit had decided to fight against this evil system.
His parents had their arguments. They were worried, for example, about arranging money for the ‘barat’, or how they would buy jewellery and who would pay for the decorations and other paraphernalia. Not having a permanent job, he faced a lot of difficulty in convincing his parents. They were in no mood to get their son married in a temple. Neither did the idea of a court marriage appeal to them. After a lot of persuasion, however, he was finally able to convince his parents by suggesting ideas that would bring down the expenses.
Witnessing his wedding was a great and refreshing experience. He convinced the family members of bride’s side to choose a place close to his house for the wedding ceremony so that they could save the money that would otherwise be spent on booking cars and their decoration. There was no ostentation in his wedding. No firecrackers. No ‘Band Baja’. And no ‘barat’. No floral decorations. No music. Even the ‘pagdi’, or headdress, and garland used by Amit in his wedding were borrowed from one of his friends who had used them in his wedding.
It was not like the usual big fat Indian wedding. But even though there were no big arrangements, I felt that little was missing. I have participated in several wedding ceremonies. Some were great, but I’ve often seen both sides quarrelling on tiny and petty issues in arranged marriages. Sometimes, they fight for money. Sometimes, for jewellery. Sometimes, because the bride’s side didn’t prepare a satisfactory welcome. Often the groom’s family places conditions on the marriage. They demand money or some luxury item. If their wishes are not fulfilled, they sometimes threaten to terminate the engagement.
But after attending Amit’s wedding and seeing what I saw, I am extremely happy people of our generation are increasingly rejecting this evil system of asking for dowry. I sincerely hope that the practice is completely abolished (not merely by law) and people who take dowry with pride are seen for what they are – sinners.
And I must congratulate Amit for taking this bold step. It takes courage to challenge the status quo, to fight with your loved ones for your beliefs, and to do what is right even when the existing societal norms require you to do otherwise. Because as Dr. Suess said, “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
So let’s be that someone who cares. Let’s be Amit.