Is Sagan The New Dowry?


Shadi season is something we all look forward to. It’s nothing less than a festival. We celebrate it with our families and friends. There are many functions involved in an Indian wedding. Like Sagan, shagun, tilak, milni. We’ve been celebrating these for ages now. But what are all these functions about? Are functions like ‘sagan’ the less talked about evil in our society?

Labelling The Taboo

In most places in India, to fix a wedding, elders of both families get into the conversation of len-den. We all know what it refers to. It’s no surprise how dowries are normalized. In the 21st century, dowry is called with different names. And these different names are the names of functions I mentioned earlier. Yeah! Those “prestigious” functions are just synonyms for dowry. We are knowingly or unknowingly celebrating dowry. In the name of culture or tradition, we’re normalizing dowry. Even after knowing the damage it causes to the lives of women, most families still practice it. 

Credit: Pinterest

Not to forget about those families who don’t ask for dowries at all. Though, it’s hard to find them. However, I’m glad such families exist. But with asking for no dowry comes the weird questions. ” Is there a shortfall in the groom”, ” What are they hiding”, “Its not a good family, they may have debts or a criminal background”. Not taking or not asking is not the norm. Anything outside this norm is met with raised eyebrows.

Sagan, Milni, Tilak- We Know The Labels !

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Sagan is a Punjabi wedding ritual. Milni ceremony is another Sikh wedding tradition. Tilak ceremony is a significant pre-wedding ritual in Hindu weddings. What goes down in these functions is the “exchange of gifts”. The bride’s family offers gifts to guests and families of the groom’s as per their wishes and desires. In return, they do get back gifts to the bride. She is often donned with jewels and gifts. All of which she will end up taking back to her sasural anyways.

Dowry is when a groom or his family demands monetary or other demands from the girl’s family. But under the pretext of tradition and culture, the world has overlooked the act of Sagan and it is normalized.

What kind of tradition are we celebrating? Should this tradition be called “cultural” , “zaroori hai”? Well, that’s just how it plays out. When questioned elders say, we can’t deny sagan it is a gesture of love. How is giving money ever a gesture of love ?

Why is love quantified by green bills? Why does jewellery and a trousseau bag equate the ancient notion of uniting two souls. Why is a girl expected to bring what she needs for the next few years from her maternal home. Is she then a burden ? No, they say she is our ‘bahu’ the pride of our home. ” All we want is your daughter, but did you hear someone’s cousin gave her sasural a car and so much of gold”.

Where Are We Headed ?

I’m not sure where we are heading in terms of dowry. Things might be changing. But not many of us are fortunate enough to witness equality in weddings. For how long will the girl’s family be obligated to host the wedding? 

Wedding day is one of the most important days of our lives. It is meant for enjoyment. But how can one enjoy knowing that someone is getting paid or showered with gifts for whatever reasons? And that someone is from the bride’s new family. Nobody wants their parents to feel unnecessary pressure. Or to support any such system that promotes dowry. Stop making weddings a contract. It’s about companionship.

It’s time to start caring about what happens behind the curtains. It’s time to make our elders and everyone realize their contribution in normalizing dowry. Your contribution in raising awareness about how dowry ruining the lives of women matters. Let’s together fight against this patriarchal system. 

Dowry is one of the major reasons for crime against women. Read how dowries are killing daughters here

Tell us what you think in the comments below, lets open a forum of discussion – in hope of spreading awareness!