By Kamna Mathur
Lucknow, May 13 : Believe it or not, many villagers near Uttar Pradesh' capital Lucknow have started what can be called dowry in reverse.
It has been common practice for parents of girls to pay 'dowry' to get a boy of their choice for their daughters. Now parents are paying money to get girls for their young and not-so-young family members to help them start their family life and also eliminate dowry system in a way.
The poverty-stricken girls are brought from neighbouring States like West Bengal, Orissa and Bihar and are married off at the Bakshi-Ka-Talab located on the outskirts of Lucknow.
Bachelors or their family members can choose the woman of their choice out of the available lot. After paying a pre-fixed percentage for brokering a relationship, the main amount goes to the bride's original family.
Over six villages including Thika, Pehri, Taraiyaa, Tantapur, Radhegram and Ambedkar Village where this practice of 'buying' women for marriage is prevalent. .
The brides' evaluation may vary as per one's social background, physical appearance and age. The reverse 'dowry' may range anywhere around rupees 10,000 to 80,000 on an average.
"The brides come from economically weak places. There are no dowry demands. It is just like love marriages happen here. A bridegroom gets married there (at bride's home) and brings her along. Money is involved but not much. As far as this village is concerned, there are people who have spent Rs. 10,000 to 20,000 depending on the bride's appearance and background," said Ram Naresh, the headman of Thika Village.
There are more marriages around wedding season. Youngsters evince much interest in getting a bride than opting for an exhausting matchmaking exercise involved in having a traditional marriage.
One of the brides-to-be was Patala, who married a man double her age. But she said she was happy, as she comes from a poverty-stricken family of West Bengal's Dinahpur Her parents got a 'dowry' of rupees 38,000.
"My nephew, Ram Naresh, got me married. A middleman made the two parties to meet. I never even dreamt of getting married. But, as you know, it is all in one's destiny," said Munna Yadav, a resident of Tantapur village.
On an average, nearly a dozen couples get married by the reverse dowry process. The practice started around three years ago, and the momentum is steadily picking up.