Members of an impoverished Dalit groups spread across 20 villages in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar district have been pooling in money into a community kitty to marry off their daughters.
Members of the community, who for generation have been skinning animal carcasses, contribute Rs 1,000 into the community kitty, which is then given to the father whose daughter is being married.
The drive, which started in 2013 in Kauda village of Dahi teshil, has now caught on in neighbouring districts, including Alirajpur and Jhabua, the community members said.
"Earlier, we took loans from moneylenders in the neighbourhood and most members would end up paying installments for year. But now things have changed," said Balsai Kotwal, a community member.
The members, mostly landless daily wage workers, started the initiative to help each other to meet marriage expenses of their daughters, they said.
"If a father is planning to marry off his daughter, he first calls a meeting of the community where money is collected and given to the girl's family," said Balwant Kotwal, a resident of Dahi, who married two of her daughters using the community fund.
She said the person for whose daughter's marriage the money is collected has to contribute Rs 1,000 for every marriage in the village in order to repay the expenses borne by the community.
Community members said they have married off 25 daughters using the money pooled in by the members in the past couple of years.
The drive started in 2013, when a member from our village sought help from the community to meet his daughter’s marriage expenses, said Kailash Piplach, a resident Koda village.
"Since then, we have helped each other in marrying off our daughters," he said.
The money pooling model is being replicated by other communities in neighbouring districts said rights activist Kemat Gewala.
"Other community in districts like Alirajpur and Jhabua are also taking up the initiative…The drive is very effective as the whole community takes responsibility for a person," he said.