Searching the roots of dowry system in the Indian subcontinent may take us to many myths intertwined with religions and cultural traditions. Ironically, speaking within the context of Kerala, the practice of dowry renders to incessant sleepless nights to many parents who worry about their daughters prospects when it comes giving their hands into marriage .
The dowry tradition that is inherently ingrained into the very mind set of every Keralite – whether educated or not, rich or poor, has taken many lives to task that involves tragic incidents including divorces, torture, murder and suicides of brides .
In an incident not long ago, Arul Selvi, a 30-year old Chennai RJ (Radio Jockey) for All India Radio’s Rainbow FM killed herself by hanging . Selvi, who was married just 2 months ago and was pregnant, was spending time at her parent’s house when the incident happened. Selvi’s family had reportedly paid gold and other gifts during and after her marriage, but squabbles over marriage and pongal gifts had reportedly created a rift between the two families.
But what we may be conveniently ignorant about is a group of invisible group of people who are in the trade of gold – the indispensible yellow material that forms the core bargaining chip in the so called engagement talks held between both the families of the bride and groom.
Turn on any one of the several dozens of Malayalam TV channels and you are bombarded with commercials on gold ornaments targeting young minds with their misleading and corrupted interpretations of an ideal wedding ceremony and the concept of aesthetics.
In recent years, jewellery advertisements have hijacked the symbolic concept of dowry which is nothing more than a tradition. The tactics used by the industry includes using attractive models and theme songs that subliminally instil unrealistic expectations about the bliss of wearing large quantities of ornaments during a wedding.
The trend has polarized the society , demarcating between those who boast about imparting gold in kilos and those who struggle to meet the wedding expenses let alone a decent “mangal sutra” made of gold.
Ironically, it is not surprising to learn that the a lion share of the ornaments thus given out as dowry soon disappears within two or three months into the marriage. It makes one wonder why an exercise of this kind has to be encouraged in our society.
It is high time that a concerted effort to curb the practice of broadcasting the malicious adverts promoting the sale of gold jewellery is put in place.
Pity, that we are all pretenders when it comes to practicing our ideology .
– Mohammed Sageer