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Abolish/Ban the Sagan/Shagun Ceremony in Hindu Marriages

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For centuries, the Marriage systems have been biased against women and have in-turn put undue pressures on the parents of the brides. One of the biggest social evils related to Hindu marriages was that of Dowry, which was abolished by the government in 1961 under the Dowry Prohibition Act. 

However, despite the existence of this landmark act, families of brides continue to be pressurized for a modern form of dowry in the name of traditions of giving gifts to the groom's family. The tradition is called - Sagan/shagun Ceremony.

Sagan Ceremonies are typically held a few days or weeks before the wedding where the parents of the bride are supposed to give lavish and expensive gifts to the extended family of the groom. The gifts are expected to be in the form of cash, gold jewelry, clothes for the entire family including the Groom's  and his parents's cousins and friends. What must be gifted and in what quantities is also often dictated by the Groom's family. 

While gifting out of one's own will and choice is not a social evil, pressurizing/forcing the bride's family to give expensive gifts to the groom's family is certainly a social evil. Often the Bride's family is expected to organise and fund the Sagan/Shagun Ceremony. The Groom's parents hand over an entire list of people from their family whom the Bride's parents must give 'good' gifts which are often beyond their affordability. All this is done by the Bride's family to receive nothing in return, not even a token of thanks or appreciation, leave alone gifts from the grooms's parents.

And since this ceremony is held just a few days/weeks before the wedding, the Bride's family faces tremendous pressure as their daughter's wedding is dependent on the pomp & show and the money spent on the sagan/shagun ceremony. 

These ceremonies are social evils not only because they put the groom and his family in a superior position for no real reason but also because they reinforce the notion of female inferiority in the society. The girl's parents are expected to please the groom's family and satisfy their demands only because they are 'the parents of a girl'. The fear of huge amounts of money that is needed to be spent on a daughters wedding is often one of the many reasons for female foeticides and infanticides. 

If we aim to create an equal world for men and women, we also need to have equal rules for them. It is important that we ban and shun traditions that project women in an inferior light, victimise the parents of a girl and give undue positions of unwarranted importance to the parents of a boy for the sole reason of having a male child. 

While there is no doubt that women and men are equal beings, I hope that one day women will also be treated as equal beings in the society. I also hope that such a day shall arrive soon!




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