Just as we begin to think that we are about to put an end to a social evil called “Dowry” given by a girl’s parents to the bridegroom and his family, a reverse which I have exclusively termed “male dowry” seems to be slowly putting its head up....
A couple of days ago I was with a group of my girlfriends, all with married or marriageable sons and daughters now.....Marriage and how, was the hot topic of the day....some of these girls already have sons/daughters-in-law.
The discussion was going good, each sharing their experiences as mothers-in-law or as mothers seeking brides/bridegrooms for their respective wards.
Surprisingly, the mothers of daughters seemed to want a lot, apart from a well educated bridegroom from a good family. Not only did they want this but they wanted the boy to be ‘well-settled’....and this one thing made me ask what that ‘well-settled’ aspect meant, because in our times the criteria of good education and a good family were parents topmost choice.
And what came out seemed like they expected a ‘male-dowry” ie they wanted the boy to have a flat/apartment house of his own, at least a latest two-wheeler if not four-wheeler, a good bank balance et all...and all this at a very young age of 28 -30 years(as if their highly educated daughters already had all this because of their high education and at this age of 28-30...:)...).... Our daughters are highly educated and they must have husbands who should be earning at least an annual salary of seven figures they said (as if , by educating themselves their daughters seemd to have done the universe a favou..:)...)had turned to be the. Also, in the same tone they mentioned that they would not give any dowry (we are educated people you know and against dowry, they said) and the marriage expenses too were to be shared fifty fifty.
I was utterly shocked at their expectation and all this got me thinking. They were educated enough to get the bridegrooms family to divide expenses of the marriage ceremony, and not GIVE any dowry......But were they not expecting RECEIVING the dowry, termed as a ‘settled’ boy. They wanted the boy to have all that which one earns after years of a ‘working life’. So indirectly, the boy better have this if only from his parents? and then it struck me , it was a well-hidden "male-dowry" that they wanted!
In my own case, my husband was just 25 years old and me 23 when we got married. Forget ‘settled’ but he barely earned a salary which was just enough for the family (a joint one) to survive for a month. Both of us were too proud to ask our parents for anything. I started work too and helped put in my bit to help in the household finances...Slowly and steadily we worked together to make a life and made more than we expected to have done when we started. Yes, we had our share of insecurities, lots of struggle to reach where we did, but always remained hardworking and self-motivated. Never did I think that ‘making a life’ was just the responsibility of my husband. We did what we could, how we could, by supporting each other in all ways. And looking back, there are no regrets, only a very deep feeling of satisfaction!
I wonder why don’t the ‘educated parents’ of ‘these highly educated’ girls don’t feel the same way today especially since the educated parents of boys seem to be understanding enough to come out of the age-old traditions of dowry and spendings! Why do they not inculcate a feeling of ‘working together’ and making a life? Why do they insist on everything to be readymade from the boy’s side?. Are they now trading their girl’s education for the ‘male dowry’ ie they educated her so that she could help get the dowry for herself? If their girls are really educated , are they not capable of supporting their husbands in all ways to make a life instead of expecting a readymade one? Is not making a life together more fun and satisfying?
Another aspect that horrified me was they did not want the elders to be staying with the newly-weds, as if they expected their daughters to be only young and newly-wed all their life! In today’s day and time, even the elders wish that the young ones have their privacy and try their best to give them that but does that mean that the elders of the house are to be done away with?? What about the old and ailing ones?
It is also common to hear these days that these girls do not know to cook. It seems very “hep” to say, but you know what I don’t know to cook (wonder then, why they want to marry and upset their present rocking lives, at all??just because their ‘educated parents’ think it is the right thing to do??...:)....:)...) Funny that, since I tell my son that in today’s day he must be qualified not only technically but also in the kitchen. There are days when we cook together so that he is capable of leading a life to support his partner in every way. It is the least he can do to help her. (Not to mention, there is so much else!)
In conclusion, I would say that whatever age or era, the real criteria must continue to remain ‘good education’ and by this I mean REAL EDUCATION not a male/female dowry-seeking FANCY DEGREE! (and this after you have found the boy/girl you chose with responsibility to say “I do!”) It is important to inculcate in your boy/girl child that if one wants to live a happily married life , it is about working at everything together as a team of two grown-up, mature individuals and not somebody who wants to live off dowries, male or female. Do your best and be assured, the Almighty will take care of the rest!
However, if this new trend of the ‘male dowry’ continues, guess, very soon, we will have NGOs coming up to mainly fight another cause of social evil which I have neologized and termed “male-dowry”
PS : My friends , this is only applicable to those thinking in terms of “male-dowry” and not everyone. This is not ‘generalized’ for all you rocking parents of girls up there...:)