Nilambur in Malappuram district appears to be on course to become the country's first dowry-free panchayat with the village witnessing a decline in the practice since the launch of the campaign against it seven months back.
According to panchayat authorities, dowry marriages have fallen from 97 to 60 per cent since the launch of the programme in the Muslim-dominated area with 8,000 families.
The campaign was flagged off by Congress MP Sachin Pilot, seeking to make the panchayat a model for the nation by rooting out the social evil that financially wrecks thousands of families and is a prime source of domestic discord.
A pre-campaign survey in Nilambur found that an average of 14 weddings take place a week, almost all of which involved dowry. But after the campaign was launched, there has been a sharp fall in marriages involving this practice, according to panchayat president Aryadan Shoukat.
The mode of campaign has not just been creating awareness but conceived as a social empowerment drive with special focus on active participation of parents and youth from all sections of society, Shoukat said.
"In the first phase, we tried to seek an assurance from all parents that they would not give or accept any form of dowry when their children are married off. By doing so, we tried to educate them about the social evil, so that they discard the practice in due course," he said.