1. Introduction to DowryThis is a featured page

The basic definition of dowry have remained unclear. As discussed by Menski (1998), there are definitely several concepts of dowry which interlink with each other.

Some writers have defined dowry as wealth given to a daughter at her marriage for contributing to the practical life of the newly married couple. They are transfers given from parents to the daughter to take with her into marriage. Technically, the property belongs to the wife and ought to stay within her control, though the husband usually has rights of management. Corresponding to the spirit of the dowry institution, dowry given to a wife ought to form part of the conjugal estate, to be enjoyed by husband and wife and to be transmitted in time to their children (Tambiah, 1973).

Another definition to dowry is the property a woman brings to the marriage partnership. In this meaning, dowry can be the dowry a bride receives from her parents, property she previously inherited and brings to the marriage, or property she owns as a widow and brings when she remarries (Nazzari, 1991; Birge, 2002).

Dowry has also been referred to as a gift or transfer by a bride's family to the groom or his family at the time of marriage. Dowry as bequest have given way to groomprice, a direct transfer to the groom, in numerious historical instances (Anderson, 2007). This form of transfer has been termed by M. N. Srinivas, leading Indian Sociologist, as "new dowry" (Menski, 1998) and Anderson (2003) as "real dowry payments". Studies have shown that the crux of the dowry problem appears to lie with this particular concept of dowry (Menski, 1998; Dalmia and Lawrence, 2005, etc.).

Definitions apart, there are many variations, across time and space, to the practice of dowry payments - the size, form and function of payments.


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