PIMPRI: A social survey conducted in Ahmednagar district has revealed that the practice of dowry has been eradicated due to the dwindling number of girls of marriageable age.
The picture has changed so drastically that families of eligible bachelors are offering to bear the entire marriage expenses, including ornaments for the bride, instead of demanding a dowry. However, the profession of match makers has started thriving in rural areas. There have been cases, where families of marriageable youths were duped by these middlemen.
Social activist Heramb Kulkarni said, “It is a good sign that the practice of dowry is on the verge of eradication. Since there is a shortfall of marriageable girls, there is no question of families of bachelors demanding dowry. The eligible bachelors, who do not have any earning source other than agriculture, are even ready to bear the entire cost of marriage.”
The flip side of the story is the rising crop of middlemen, who are exploiting gullible families eager to arrange the marriage of their sons. Kulkarni said, “We came across cases, in which middlemen took Rs 5,000 for merely arranging a meeting with the girl’s parents. If a marriage is fixed, they charge extra. This is an additional burden on the farmers, who are already facing an economical distress.
There are cases, in which eligible bachelors take a job, for the time being, to give an impression to the father of the bride that they are employed. Party activists request their leaders to arrange a job in a co-operative sugar factory, etc, till their marriage is arranged. In such cases, they knowingly cheat families of brides as they have no other option.
In another positive development, some youths have married poor girls from tribal communities due to a lack of marriageable girls in their community. Such inter-caste marriages have increased significantly.
Rural Maharashtra has been exposed to urban lifestyle due to the penetration of electronic media and social media. They aspire to lead an urban lifestyle but do not have the purchasing power. Hence, the youths get frustrated.
Kulkarni said, “We came across many cases, where boys are turning toward alcoholism due to this frustration. This adversely affects their efficiency and work in farming. There is going to be a social crisis in the near future, if these issues are not addressed properly.”