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Updated: August 25, 2013 01:27 IST

Let the rich & famous set the trend

S. Subramaniyan
Comment (10)   ·   print   ·   T  T  

Several families are ruined beyond repair on account of dowry and ostentatious marriages

The article “Down with Dowry” (The Hindu, Open Page, August 11) is timely. Even though the case study was with reference to a particular community, the scourge remains a hydra-headed monster in other communities as well, the difference being only in degrees.

Simple marriages are talked about more and more, discussed and debated. But rarely practised. Our selfishness and hypocrisy stand in the way of practising what we preach. We always want the other man to start. The more you talked about simple marriages, the more complex it has evolved over the years. Costly and complicated invitations, fully air-conditioned venues, mela-like dining with stalls, a corporate style event management team attending on the guests, ever-increasing items served and entertainment with highly paid artistes are proliferating the simple act of marriage between a man and a woman.

Each one wants to add novelties by spending more. The one who attends such a marriage is immensely happy because he is treated well and floats in a dreamland until his turn comes. Votaries of lavish marriages may advocate specious arguments: We do it once or twice only; how else to exibit our status? Are we not making people happy? The commercial activities benefit society, blah, blah. But are they really in tune with the larger social good which is more important?

The “Ten Commandments” society should seriously adopt if we are to behead this demon of dowry are:

1. Let the rich and famous come forward to conduct simple marriages. Only the rich who have all options can set an example, and not the hapless poor. The rich doing it will be applauded but the same act by the choiceless poor will be ridiculed. The one who can do something but desists from doing so will have a great influence on society.

2. Let us conduct marriage for marriage’s sake and not for business promotion and status declaration. Let the sanctity of marriage be not reduced a deadly cocktail of pomp and vanity. Promotion of business and status can still be done separately so that it does not pollute and spoil the venerable institution of marriage.

3. The money saved can be productively invested in the names of the couple for their future expenses — to buy a house, start a business or spend on children’s education.

4. Let there be a realistic definition of a “simple marriage” with the list of dos and don’ts. This can be done by religious leaders and elders. Let the package include the number of guests, the type of venue, duration and dress. Such “standard marriage” or “economy marriage” will pave the way for simple celebrations.

5. Let the expenses be shared equally by the parents of both bride and the groom. This will instil a sense of accountability in parents. You are liberal when the other man spends; frugal when you have to foot the bill.

6. Give wide publicity to simple marriages — at the venue and outside through the media, which should, in turn, showcase such events. Gradually, simple marriages will become fashionable.

7. Let there be a movement for simple marriages. Catch the boys and girls young and get their pledges before their idealism evaporates in the hot sun of parental greed. Introduce the virtues of simple marriages in curriculum.

8. Let religious and community leaders make an effective propaganda against lavish marriages and dowry. Let them attend marriages performed in a simple manner. Political leaders and cine stars cannot do this for obvious reasons, even though their advocacy will have a better effect!

9. Girls’ education, imparting skills and their empowerment, resulting in financial independence, will gradually kill the monster of dowry.

10. Let every lavish marriage be discreetly watched by the government agencies concerned for purposes of probing and punishing the guilty. Fear of punishment may have a deterrent effect.

Money spent lavishly on marriages hurts social stability and happiness. Several families are ruined beyond repair on account of dowry and ostentatious marriages. Follow these commandments so that the girl child gets her legitimate share of pride in society.

(The writer, a tax consultant, can be reached at

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It is time for finance minister to introduce new tax-may be 25% of total marriage expenses. Then atleast 50% of marriages will stop to be lavish-atleast not look so to avoid tax !!!! Then it becomes a fashion with rich and powerful.

from:  Sivakumar
Posted on: Aug 27, 2013 at 18:57 IST

The money spent on ostentatious marriages in business family in many cases is actually bank loaned; in the case of marriages in political class, it is the black money. It is doubtful if the government will be able to keep an effective watch in both these cases.

from:  Arun Draviam
Posted on: Aug 27, 2013 at 11:56 IST

The writer, S. Subramaniyan happens to be my dearest brother.
He is a very well-meaning person. I must know since I've been his
sister for the past 57 years or so...

Some of his views may be questionable like they've been pointed out
by a few commentators.
Nevertheless, all the good ones would certainly be appreciated by
many, I'm sure, especially by the middle-class parents with daughters.

Every bit of well-meaning commandments do come in handy.
Don't you all agree?.

from:  Meena Chandramouli
Posted on: Aug 27, 2013 at 04:09 IST

Lavish expenses on marriages, some times create jealousy and ill will , and it will be
prudent for both the parties, to strict to the essentials while solemnizing a marriage, over
The Internet, this writer viewed the marriage pictures of a rich girl from from Kerala ,
wearing ornaments weighing 5 kilograms. It is true, the money is spend by her parents, but
This has happened in India, where a large section of the population is below the poverty
Level, and the Govt has only now passed a bill to provide food for them. I felt really sad
For the bride, as such exhibition was uncalled fior. On the other hand, a very rich
industrialist in Kerala recently met the marriage expenses of several couples and that was
Also publicized in a leading Malayalam news paper. That was an act fitting with the times,
And can be copied by others as well. Even a legislation at the all India level, to limit
expenses will be welcome, by large sections in India

from:  C p chandra das
Posted on: Aug 27, 2013 at 01:02 IST

It's not going to happen, really. People are terribly reactionary and hidebound when
it comes to things like these. Even if the rich and famous conduct simple marriages,
the common man is not going to follow.

He'll say: "Well! they are rich and famous and can do such things. I have to preserve
my status". It only happens in movies where the couple in love elope and get married
at the registrar's. All items unthinkable in our society.

from:  Vivek
Posted on: Aug 26, 2013 at 16:35 IST

An article on dowry again! Well, the elimination of the problem is a
very good thought but not convinced about the suggestions the author
has given. For eg. talking about point no.7, in schools we all were
taught to conserve electricity and paper but, how many of us believe in
it and follow? Those who think and know the consequences of their
actions can only follow the good/right things...whether they're
educated about it or not. Also, making girls literate or financially
independent is no solution either as i have seen even educated girls
being dumb and silent when it comes to paying dowry within their
families. Government can discourage dowry by implementing strict rules
but the major onus to end it lies with the society.

It's high time we all understood that selling our girls in the marriage
market and later see them abused and disrespected is no fair deal!

from:  Shridevi
Posted on: Aug 26, 2013 at 10:48 IST

Tradition seems to be the bug bear to which the society falls an easy prey in planning marriages. Unless it is an out and out love marriage where the boy and girl are bold enough to call the shots all other marriages follow a set pattern involving ostentation and burden of expenditure heaped on the girl's parents reducing the latter to life long penury. The more the daughters the more the misery. Societal censure and odious comparisons between one celebration and another also mar the institution of marriage. Unequal treatment between performance of marriage of siblings too dog the girls parents leading to a vicious cycle with no end in sight. The girls too are a party to the grand scheme of marriage planning to be up with the peers. In the midst of such waste of resources it is heartening to see some of the well to do opting to celebrate marriages at select temples followed with a lunch to those thronging to bless the newly weds. The age old customs need to be changed with times.

Posted on: Aug 26, 2013 at 06:09 IST

Instead of all this, move away from your parents when you are adults and marry the girl whom you fall in love with would be better.

from:  derick gannon
Posted on: Aug 26, 2013 at 01:45 IST

You don't need any of these things. If the govt. is very strict that only white, tax paid money only can be spent on these lavish things, no marriage in our country will be lavish. Simply it is the black unaccounted money, peole are spending them , it is one of the way, where our IT officials won't be that strict even for tiny minority of tax returtning citizens. Do we have the guts to accept yhat we will account for every penny we spend on these pompuos activites or does our politicians will make sure they appoint a team of IT officials for every marriage. The govt. will easily earn more tax than they pay for the salary of the extra officials.I am sure including the author and myself won't welcome this novel idea.

from:  R.Manivarmane
Posted on: Aug 25, 2013 at 20:51 IST

I wonder what solution the writer has for the following scenario. The father puts all his savings on getting his son admitted in a Engineering College.Son does his father good & gets a job in an MNC with a fat salary.Now the father has two daughters to be married and HAS to pay dowry.Where else does he find the money except by asking a fat dowry for his son? One can sermonize saying the son should save & get his sisters married but by the time he saves enough they will be spinsters !!The case against dowry is only from some one who cannot pay and at the same time wants a good " catch" for his daughter. He is not willing to settle for a bus conductor son-in-law who doesn't want a dowry. If you want a coffee in a 5 Star Hotel you should not crib to pay Rs 50 or more for a cup.If you can afford only Rs 5 you should go only to a road side joint. On the other hand a person who has the money is more than happy to write a blank cheque to get a MNC son-in-law for the happiness of his daughter

from:  Vydhianathan Vallioor
Posted on: Aug 25, 2013 at 20:50 IST
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