A satire on weddings, dowry and 'match-making aunties'

Last Updated: Wed, May 18, 2011 20:37 hrs

The ancient custom of dowry in India, and even across much of Europe, predates back to a time so far that there isn't even historical records to validate its roots.

For years, the practice of women and their families having to give wealth or property to the groom's family in order to honour a marriage between the two parties concerned has thrived across the world. In India, this patriarchal practice was put to an end in 1961, legally speaking, after civil laws, criminal laws and special legislative acts were put in place. But despite the anti-dowry laws, the tradition is still widely and illegally practiced across many class-divides in the country.

Last week, a set of unknown developers created an online application called the "Dowry Calculator" to poke fun at how much money brides in India have to pay in order to bag a "groom fit for their social standing".

The application, which the developers dedicated to all the "match-making aunties of India" parodies the tradition of dowry and the importance given to "social standing" in marriages.

The calculator mocks the varied factors that potential brides and grooms in the country have to consider in a traditional Indian marriage. The application demands you fill in your age, caste, profession, salary, father's occupation, skin tone (giving priority to fair skin and less importance to dark skin) and height among others to arrive at a whimsical "dowry rate" or dowry worth.

Many young Indians feel that the application projects how today's youth feel about wedding factors and dowry in general.

Amit Nihal, a user who tried the app, thought it is a funny concept and jested that a similar "bribery calculator" should soon be made to poke fun at the levels of corruption and bribery taking place in the country.

Another user, Anusha Radhakrishnan, 22, says dowry is "a fantastic way to earn money". She says, with more than a hint of sarcasm in her tone, "the application is awesome, more of a social service that tries to help us (women) evaluate our worth (in the marriage market)".

She praises the developers of the application for parodying the system.

"I detest the dowry system, and appreciate the effort taken to mock it," she said.

Matrimonial site analysts say that today's youth feel at ease to ridicule what they say is an "antiquated practice". They say that factors surrounding marriage has significantly changed over time.

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