Dowry Vs ‘Streedhan’, Extravagance Vs Family Affair
In a recent episode of ‘Satyameva Jayate’, actor Aamir Khan dwelt at length on the menace of the dowry system and the futility of extravagant weddings.
The show lauded the efforts of some bravehearts as also 'Tanzeem Khuddam E Millat', an organization from Burhanpur in Madhya Pradesh that pioneered a movement in the 1950s wherein weddings would take place only in the early evenings so as to avoid any extra cost on the bride's part and where ceremonies are held in a simple manner without any pomp or show.
In a huge country like India, it is not possible for any organisation to single handedly carry out this massive task. Moreover, with our ethnic, linguistic, cultural diversities, people may not pay heed to the calls of any particular organisation. It is, therefore, important that this crusade is carried forward at the individual level in a big way.
There are many unsung heroes all over the country, who have tied the knot without any monetary considerations whatsoever and these include not just couples who fall in love or individuals with strong ideological commitments but even industrialists and businessman.
Chetanya Kasyap is one such person. This entrepreneur from Ratlam (the small Madhya Pradesh town made popular by the Kareena-Shahid Bollywood Blockbuster Jab We Met), has a 60 per cent market share of sorbitol (that lends the sweet taste to your toothpaste) production in India.
Though hailing from a traditional Marwari Jain business family, Kasyap practised and popularised the ‘Parivarik Vivah’ concept both among his family, relatives, friends and community members. Kasyap believes that a wedding attended by family members and close friends is the dream of every girl and boy and as a festival loving (Utsav Priya, as he calls it) society, every parent also eagerly looks forward to that event.
Therefore, Parivarik Vivah envisages that only immediate family members including first cousins are present at the actual wedding from both sides while extended family members and some close family friends are invited for the reception. Gifts are strictly prohibited while invitations are printed on plain paper and not expensive cards. There is no place for any ring ceremony (which Kasyap believes is a western concept) while only parents and grand parents would be present at the engagement ceremony.
With a view to popularise the concept, Kasyap started a ‘Parivarik Vivah Kendra’ in his native Ratlam where subsidised arrangements for marriage were provided. However, except for a few marriages, there were not many takers for the venue due to the strict rules and regulations on expenses.
“Neither should there be an extravagance, nor should marriage resemble a mourning,” says Kasyap, who as a matter of principle, does not attend any marriages, except that of his own children, close relatives and friends.
In fact, this multi-millionaire got his younger, a Mumbai-based business tycoon in his own right, married at an all inclusive cost of Rupees Fifty Thousand Only.
It is pertinent to mention here that while dowry as a weapon of torture should be condemned at all costs, it has to be ensured that under the pretext of a dowryless marriage, patriarchal parents do not deprive their girl children of equal rights to property. The parents should give the daughter’s share of property in her name voluntarily to ensure financial security for an independent life, once she leaves her parental home for good. In many well-off families, dowry has become a tool to deprive daughters of their rightful share with a car, some gold and some furniture while the lion’s share including land, houses, bank balances etc. are kept exclusively for the benefit of sons.
Crusaders against the menace including Aamir Khan too should learn to distinguish between dowry and ‘Streedhan’ (the wealth belonging to the women), as enunciated in our ancient texts.