DOWRY & HUMILIATION
It was my father, a vice-president in the Social Service organization, who took me to the Swayamvar. When first I heard him say that, I wondered how he could take me to the ancient times when such things had taken place!
As if reading my thoughts, he told me about it. It was a Modern Swayamvar. This was how it functioned. Brides and grooms, as also their parents who had registered their names before, gathered at the venue. The grooms and brides were seated separately on one side each, leaving a lane of gangway to walk up to the dais and back. After 10 a.m. the programme started. I watched with mounting interest. First, a bride went on to the dais and disclosed her detail, like her education, family background, her monthly salary and so on. Similarly, grooms also disclosed their details. The concept is, the boys and girls can select their spouse on hearing from one another. Then both side parents discussed and finalized the wedding.
This was quite interesting! They made this Himalayan task of the bride’s family so easy. In addition, this modern Swayamvars had eradicated the crude practice of the groom and his family members visiting the bride’s house and dominating them while the bride is ushered in before them.
All the while, the bride would be sitting quiet, speak when spoken, and causing anxiety to her family, hoping that the groom’s family would approve of her. Finally, the groom’s family would leave.
In most of the cases, the groom had rejected the bride, and thus the humiliation mentally sickened the innocent brides in thousands. But these modern swayamvars gave equal rights to brides on a par with grooms.
More than anything else, what deserves appreciation is that, there is no dowry offered to the grooms who participate in it. They have to give a written statement that they would not demand dowry! What a novel concept for the development of the society. Of the 63 boys and 57 girls participated, 42 marriages were finalized before the evening!