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“Traditional Bridal Dowry –Box” As A Social Evil In Indian Society

1630 words - 7 pages

A satirical website created in 2011 calculates the amount of dowry women need in order to marry the men of their choice. The website mocks India’s social evil, and it exposes some of the unhealthy factors families consider in order to arrive to “dowry rate.” Some of the factors are caste, education of the groom and even skin color. In India the custom of dowry is a very old tradition that originated in the 13th or 14th century, when women were not given any share from paternal wealth and when women were regarded as the property of either their fathers or their husbands. At that time, dowry was giving women some pre-mortem inheritance and some economic security. Traditionally it was a Stridhanam – daughter’s wedding settlement, but in 20th and 21st century a wife does not have any control of dowry anymore and it is just the monetary price that a woman’s parents pay to their future son-in-law in order to marry off their daughter. There have been many regulations from the Indian government in order to ban this tradition, but people tend to be unresponsive to these regulations. Not only government officials but also political and social activists voiced their opinions against it. Arundhati Roy, the author of The God of Small Things, is a political and social activist who critiques Indian society and argues that women deserve equal rights to those of men in inheritance and property. The God of Small Things has two interesting passages which discuss the dowries (or lack thereof) of two protagonists Ammu and Rahel, mother and daughter, respectively. The first passage describes Ammu’s early life and her decision to marry Baba.
While the second passage is about Rahel, Ammu’s daughter. This passage describes how Rahel not having anyone to give dowry to her, impacted her life.
Both of the passages are introduced early in the book, while describing the early lives of the characters, Ammu and Rahel. The passages are very important, because it is in these excerpts that the reader can clearly see Arundhati Roy’s voice as a political activist and her depiction of progress in society in terms of dowry. The passages suggest Roy’s critique of the institution of dowry. Thus the excerpts bring value to the whole book itself and help Roy pursue her goal of criticizing the Indian society through literature and show how outdated the concept of a dowry is. These passages have also an importance because they challenge the society in a way that dowry, a widely used tradition by the people, is depicted as old-fashioned. Arundhati Roy depicts dowry as old-fashioned when she describes the hotel “Heritage.” Author says: “The furniture and knickknacks that came with the house were on display. A reed umbrella, a wicker couch. A wooden dowry box. They were labeled with edifying placards that said Traditional Kerala Umbrella and Traditional Bridal Dowry –box.” (Roy 120) It is interesting how the dowry box is on the display as in the museum in order to show well known but old...

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