Vineeth Thomas*

"Most of the times, the tradition of dowry is imposed upon youngsters by their parents and relatives. They generally just go along with it unthinkingly."

Vineeth Thomas (name changed upon request)

What are your views on the idea of ‘the big fat Indian wedding’? Do you think it is necessary? Why/why not?

It is not necessary but you need to invite all the people you know. Making the wedding overtly grand and lavish could be avoided. As for me, I do not want it to be ostentatious.

Do you think the practice of dowry has increased as compared to your parent’s time? Or has it reduced?

I am not sure, but I think the practice of dowry is still taking place. Earlier, the tradition of dowry was practiced in an explicit manner; today, one cannot tell if a gift is given voluntarily or if it is a part of the wedding dowry.

Why is dowry so enticing that even well educated, well-meaning young people are not able to say no to it?

It is substantial wealth coming in freely. Maybe that is why it is enticing. Most of the times, the tradition of dowry is imposed upon youngsters by their parents and relatives. They generally just go along with it unthinkingly.

Do you think that the honour of your family and/or your position in the family would be compromised by not accepting or giving dowry? Why/ why not?

I do not think it will be compromised. My father had not taken anything from my mother’s family. However, when it came to my two sisters, though no dowry asked, my dad gave them something in terms of cash for their personal use. Their position should not be affected much because they have jobs.

What are your views on the practice of dowry?

It is not a good system. These days, dowry is asked covertly in the form of gifts. If the bride’s parents give her something, she should be in absolute control of it. You should not value your spouse based on the amount of wealth she brings to your house. The tradition of dowry sustains a culture in which women are reduced to objects of transaction.

If you are against the practice of dowry, please respond to the following questions:

Would you be willing to let go of what you would be entitled to traditionally?

I am letting go of it. I have been clear about this from the very beginning. I would also want to encourage others to take a stand against this system.

Do you think that your parents would agree with your decision in this regard? If not, what are the steps you would take to convince them?

Since we come from a tradition where dowry is practiced, they had some reservations. However, after I shared my point of view with them, they agreed to it. I told them that my wife’s worth cannot be evaluated in monetary terms. She is not a product. I have been clear that they should neither ask nor receive anything from her family.

What things would help to curb and eradicate the practice of dowry?

I do not think we can eradicate it from our culture per se. However, the few of us who are against this practice should generate awareness by reaching out to our relatives and cousins.