The Origins of Dowry in India

The traditional 'Streedhan' is quite different from what the modern day 'dowry' connotes. It's time to change the narrative of 'Crime of Native Culture' which showcases this system as regressive. Watch this video by Prachyam to know the truth!

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Dowry is a payment of cash or valuable gifts from the bride's family to the bridegroom upon marriage.

The ancient civilization of India did not have this concept of dowry. The Indian society was never oppressive to its women. There is no record of such dowry in the Vedic period. Instead, the ancient scriptures talk about women with very high respect. Even the Goddess of wealth is Lakshmi and not a male god. 

Ancient India had the concept of Swayamwar, where women can choose their partner to marry. In the pre-colonial period, the connotation of 'Dowry' was very different! It was a system managed by women, for women, to enable them to establish their status and have resources in an emergency. The mother gave the wealth or valuables to the daughter as Streedhan and not to the groom of his family. The status of Hindu women was high during the pre-colonial era. This system of Streedhan was ruined by Britishers in the late 17th century when they started to rule Bengal. 

The British enforced laws that started the permanent settlement of land. The private ownership of the land began. The common people after that started fighting over land. Britishers never really cared for the common people. They gave more power to landowners who collected taxes for them. Then British laws prohibited women from having any property rights. The wealth women got from their parents would now be owned by her husband. Because of this, the ancient system of Streedhan was demolished. Therefore husbands and in- law's started demanding more money as 'dowry' from the bride and her parents. Marriage almost became a business deal. A male child became more important, and a female child became a burden. The Britishers were responsible for this and not the Hindu traditions. 

The dowry system was present in the Roman empire, ancient Greek society, Babylonian society in some form or other. But the western media and historians mock and attack only Hinduism now and then for the dowry system, which is still present in India. Westerners never raise the issue of Muslim women's oppression in Islam with the same intensity. Even now, as we see in the US, supposedly the most developed and civilized country in the world, spouses are murdered for the insurance money. No media or historian blames it on any religion. But they indeed blame Hinduism for the dowry system, which was, in reality, caused by the British laws. Such kind of hypocrisy is shown even by Indian historians also. Indian historians never came out of their colonial hangover. Hinduism or Indian Hindu civilization never oppressed women. The historians have only one agenda to ridicule Hinduism and the glorious culture of India.

We have been told the twisted narratives about the regressive history of Hinduism and India in general. Let's change it together.


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