a wristwatch, a radio, and a cycle

evolution of dowry in Nepal – part I (of II)

The (not-so-evil) dowry culture of 70s and 80s in Nepal.

I say 70s and 80s to be – not-so-evil, because this is somewhat simpler, when compared to the present dowry culture in Nepal. Read my next post for the bad omen dowry system. For now, read below.

Railroad watch
Railroad watch (Photo credit: mpclemens)

Mr Sukhiraam (name changed) stood up and ran towards the paddy field. This happened when he was getting married (arranged marriage) to a girl from next village, five kilometers south-east from his own.

why did Sukhiraam ran?
There was a specific wristwatch he demanded as his dowry. This was Seiko Day-n-Date wrist watch, the one with the “second”-hand and leather strap, which had dates shown. The one which was considered as the highest class of gift, at that time, in that region. This was an era when there were no Television in Nepal, and Radio had just made it inroads. The watch was one of the most useful technological advancement for Sukhiraam, and he’d hope it be on time for all his work and duties from hence forth. His work duties related to grazing and then milking his cows and buffaloes, working at rice field, bringing about drinking water from a fifteen minute walk, helping his landlord with various household chores and agriculture related work and mostly being on time for the morning cup of tea at the village tea shop. The shop, where he had boasted a day earlier that he’d be getting a watch, not just just any watch, but a “Seiko Day-n-Date Watch”. His reputation and family honor were on line.

what were his dowry options?
The three most prevalent dowry gift in those days (for this region) were – a wristwatch, a cycle and a radio, Second after the aforementioned wristwatch was a cycle. The cycle from “Hero” company, which had no gears, or front or tail lights, was the heaviest thing around, and quite uncomfortable by today’s standard. But in those days, Hero cycle was the speed demon, and a status symbol. Sadly, Sukhiraaam had one of these, and this was the very reason, why he was to married.

Paarvati’s father had searched for three months when he got the news of a handsome Sukhiraam who had a Hero cycle. Paarvati would be very happy, if she’d marry to this richness, which was only three hours walk from her fathers home, Paarvati, the eldest, was of age, and her father had two more daughters to marry off in the next three years time. Paarvati was lucky that Sukhiraam liked her on first visit, and since he already had the cycle, there was only wristwatch which was demanded.

how long before a wristwatch?
Paarvati’s father had to ask his elder brother’s son – Lakhan, who’d be going to the nearest market (Manhari Market) to sell his land lord’s agricultural goods in about three weeks time. Lakhan, would take extra money with him, and provided there were no Dacoits and Loot on the way, he’d be going to the nearest city, in India, to get this watch.

Gorakhpur city was roughly 200km south, and it would take a train ride of six hours to reach there. If you weren’t careful, you had a very likely chances of getting robbed or pick pocketed. Plus, you would not go there alone, and usually took someone with you. There was only one train every day, so, Lakhan had to spend one day in Gorakhpur, with a paid travel allowance by Paarvati’s dad. All in about – seven weeks time. The wedding was scheduled on the eighth week.

who became greedy?

you tell me.

 

3 thoughts on “a wristwatch, a radio, and a cycle

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