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Word Count: 982
Dowry Traditionally dowry in India was regarded as a burden for the brides parents but an honor for the bride The gifts are usually given at the time of the wedding or very soon after They usually include household goods such as furniture utensils bedding electrical appliances and clothes which are usually destined to be redistributed among the grooms kin One of the basic functions of a dowry has been to serve as a form of protection for the wife against ill treatment by her husband A dowry used in this way was actually a conditional gift to the husband that had to be restored to the wife or her family if the husband divorced his wife or committed some grave offense against her Such dowries were frequently land or some other form of real property and were made inalienable by the husband though he might otherwise use and profit from them during marriage A dowry can also serve to help a new husband discharge the responsibilities that go with marriage This function assumed special importance in societies where marriages were regularly made between very young people the dowry made it possible for the new husband to establish a household which he otherwise would not have had the economic resources to do Another function of a dowry in some societies has been to provide the wife with a means of support in case of her husbands death In this latter case the dowry is a substitute for a compulsory share in the succession or the inheritance of the husbands landed property In many premodern societies the dowry serves as a reciprocal gesture by the brides family to the grooms kin for the expenses incurred by the latter in payment of the bride-price These exchanges are not purely economic they serve to ratify the marriage and consolidate friendship between the
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