It was as far back as 2003 that the Gujjar community in the National Capital Region realized the need for low-cost weddings. The costs of ostentatious weddings had left many families high and dry. To address this, a mahapanchayat laid down strict laws a decade ago, laws which prohibited both the giving and taking of dowry.
The community found new impetus to implement these laws after watching Satyamev Jayate’s Big Fat Indian Wedding episode. Dahej Virodhi Jagriti Abhiyan, a campaign to ban the practice of dowry, was launched by the Gujjar Jagriti Mission. “We have started an awareness programme in our community through which we sensitize parents and the youth,” says Yatendar Nager, president of the organization. “We have conducted 11 weddings and of these, five have not involved the giving or taking of dowry. We have also convinced the families involved in four other weddings to lessen their extravagant demands.”
One such case was that of Dr Shrikant Mishra’s daughter’s wedding. “Although I had one daughter whose wedding I could afford to splurge on, I decided against it after speaking to Mr Nager,” says Dr Mishra. “He convinced the in-laws to not take a dowry and we gave just one rupee as a goodwill token!”
Nager is not satisfied with just a few cases of victory, however. “We won’t stop until we are completely successful,” he asserts.