How does the Dowry System Works in India? Origin of dowry and dowry definition

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The dowry system is an old tradition seen across religions, cultures, and periods. It is not sure where dowries started, but the system takes position in wedding ceremonies even today.

Dowry System
How does the Dowry System Works in India? Origin of dowry and dowry definition 3

What is a Dowry?

A dowry is a gift of the abundant monetary amount given from either the groom or bride to their future partner upon a wedding.

“The system is that you never go anywhere empty-handed,” states Santhosh Bhau, a Brahmin Hindu Priest.

“The dowry works as a present from the bride’s family to the groom’s family as a kind sign for welcoming her into their house.”

The History and Meaning of the Dowry

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How does the Dowry System Works in India? Origin of dowry and dowry definition 4

During the Roman Empire, the girl’s family would offer a dowry to the boy or his family to balance the cost of her living expenses.

While it is generally believed that a dowry is always given by a bride to her future husband, it is the opposite in other cultures, where the husband gives a gift to the bride or her family upon their wedding.

The monetary value can serve as insurance for the fiancée should she wish to leave her husband. It is something she can get with her in the case of divorce to assure her financial security.

Other names for this exchange may be “bridewealth” or “bride price.”

Over time, it became the normal practice for people to exploit the dowry method around India in some cases.

What was intended to be a gift and commitment of security from one partner to another quickly became a financial demand that ended in broken engagements or divorce, force, and even death for unpaid dowries.

It is for this purpose that countries like India, Pakistan, Greece, Nepal, and Kenya established laws making dowries illegal in any potential.

Dowry FAQs

Who pays the dowry?

This differs across various cultures and beliefs. A Hindu bride’s house usually provides the groom a gift of vital monetary value or dowry. The amount of the dowry is based on factors such as income or class.

In Muslim religions, however, it is the groom that gives a gift or Mahr to his wife.

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How does the Dowry System Works in India? Origin of dowry and dowry definition 5

How much is a dowry?

The measure of dowry depends on the culture and situations such as class or income. In addition to money, a dowry can also arrive in the form of cash, fixed deposits, jewelry, property, furniture, a vehicle, or livestock. There is no such dowry calculator by which the exact dowry can be calculated.

When is the dowry given?

Dowries are usually delivered just before the marriage takes place or at the wedding function. Less frequently is the dowry paid after marriage.

Basic Myths About the Dowry

Dowries only take place in India.

FALSE: It is broadly believed that dowries are a tradition expressly found in South Asian countries and societies. However, many other religions participate in the dowry system presently involving but not limited to Jewish, East Asian, North-African, Slavic, Arab, and Sub-Saharan African cultures.

Dowries are the price a groom pays for his bride.

Bride price

FALSE: Bride price and dowry is frequently wrongly defined as a man’s payment for a wife OR if the opposite, the amount a bride gives to get married.

These are not correct definitions because while something of benefit may be transferred from one spouse to the other, it is regarded as a gift, not the amount one pays to get united. 

It is something a woman can take as protection should she wish to leave her husband. In several cultures, the dowry can also be the engagement ring itself.

Only rich families take part in the dowry system.

FALSE: Dowry and bride value is practiced amongst even the lower families.


Any young man, who makes dowry a condition to marriage, discredits his education and his country and dishonors womanhood

~Mahatma Gandhi

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  1. […] young man, who makes dowry a condition to marriage, discredits his education and his country and dishonors womanhood – […]

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