8.16.2016

The Game of Dowry

I grew up following traditions. The traditions that were laid by South Asian culture, religion, and the society I am a part of. I always knew when they were right and also when they were wrong. Yes, no society or culture in the world is flawless. I realized, when I wondered upon my traditions, that some of them were horribly wrong.
One of the very disturbing culture terms is dowry. If you're unaware of this, it's basically a term used for the items that a woman brings with her to her marital house when she's married. A lot of people confuse it with Meher (an Islamic term that declares the amount of money groom pays or promise to pay to the bride in future; it's usually a minimal amount often set by religious terms). But Dowry is something else.

Dowry could be a beautiful concept. Like, parents or relatives giving gifts to the bride so she would start a new life with the blessings of her family. However, after all these years and modifications implicated by the society, it has become a nightmare for a lot of families.
My first introduction to dowry was years ago. I wouldn't wonder if the little girls in my family must already be aware of it because it's everywhere; the talk of dowry rules houses, gossips, and of course family gatherings. My grandmother used to tell how she would leave her gold in my name so I would wear it after I get married. It was a wonderful thing to hear because I was in love with her jewellery collection and the idea of getting it to myself was overwhelming. Now, it seems like she might have thought I would rule my house with her gold. She isn't it this world anymore and I just turned 19 today and not getting married anytime soon, it crosses my mind many times how could pieces of gold help me in life?!? The dilemma of South Asian females.
What's so nightmare-ish about the dowry?

The demands. The judgements. The unwholeness.

A lot of people would demand dowry when they're asking for a girl's hand. Doesn't it look like a joke when someone's asking for the most precious thing aka a daughter from parents BUT with conditions? Dowry isn't a joke and it isn't cheap.
When a society starts valuing a woman's worth by the color of her skin, the amount in her bank account, and the items she brought in dowry, that's where the downfall starts.
I have heard a lot of stories about girls turning into women with silver in their hair and the reason was that the groom's family was demanding for a dowry that was way too much for bride's family. The other matches for the girl weren't as good as proposed groom and the only way was either to pay or pray. Those who chose the former paid quite a big price such as a life of debt and those who chose the latter suffered another decade of pain.

The problem isn't unsolvable. All we need is the first step.

The first step is saying no to dowry, or to any term that's destroying the beauty of our culture with contaminated terms, or what-so-ever hurting people in any way. The first step is the kindness. The first step is wiseness.

I don't know how dowry works in different parts of the world. What I know it is all I see in Pakistan and similar cultures. If you have something similar in your culture, please let me know. If you have any questions regarding this post, feel free to ask and I will make sure to answer with as precise facts as possible.
Here's a visual storytelling video I recently did:


*this post is inspired by Orient Pakistan's #RishtonMeinInnovation TVC. This campaign has been a heart warming and revolutionary one and I can't wait to see similar campaigns rising up to eliminate all the faulty parts our culture has been bearing in the name of 'traditions'.



(this TVC is in Urdu. If you can't understand it, let me know and I'll have it translated for you  <3)

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