The dowry question...from the other side

September 24, 2006


My mother-in-law passed away before KM’s younger brothers came to “marriageable” age…so KM and I were in the position of having to look for alliances…and when we started, we had a LOT of fun, too. We were often asked, delicately: “So…please let us know about the ‘other things’ that you expect…” We would cringe and finally bring ourselves to say, “We don’t ‘expect’ anything, in fact, we would like to pay our share of the marriage expenses.” From one family, this brought forth the response to the effect of, “Is there, then, something wrong with the prospective groom that you are not letting us know?” (Discounted goods!)

One gentleman from Andhra Pradesh wrote, “We will be willing to fund a clinic for Sri N provided he settles down with us in Andhra Pradesh.” (N is a surgeon.). Another one told us, “Only N can come to meet the girl at our place. If the rest of you come you will influence his decision.” !!!!! Each of us found a different part of that request very funny! I wanted to ask the gentleman if other family members of the young woman would be present, or if it would be a one on one… N was tickled that his mind was considered so fickle…KM asked what it was about the young woman which would impress us so unfavourably!

Well, we went through two arranged marriages (the brother in the middle found a delightful girl on his own; she was his Senior House Surgeon in Ashford, Kent.) and it was very pleasant….but I began to be very worried about how my independent-minded daughter (as well as we ourselves) would go through this procedure, as any comments about “your daughter is too short” or “she is too dark” would bring me out, tooth and claw….thank goodness, she found such a wonderful young man, whose family and friends respected a culture very different from their own, who went through a traditional TamBram wedding that  could have been quite an ordeal for them, and whose ethos values are so close to ours…

But I have also attended arranged marriages where the families treat each other as equals, and are joined in their affection for the couple; this is, I think, the best of both worlds, and it is a joy to see the two families being close.