A more than 200-year-old tradition that questions the rules of patriarchy has one Madhya Pradesh offering a rare win-win for brides and grooms – and their respective families.
Nimola, just five kilometers from Burhanpur district headquarters, has for generations seen sons-in-law move in, earning the village a new name: jamai gaon (village of the sons-in-law).
Out of the 700 houses, 675 have the daughter’s husband living in.
The tradition started over 200 years ago and families are more than willing following it for they see it as a harbinger of good luck.
"Some say that about 200 years ago, a Patel's daughter was married to some other village but his son-in-law was not doing anything and sold away his land. After he became bankrupt, the Patels brought the couple to the village and gave him a share from their property after which he started prospering. Since then most of the son-laws come back to this village for work or trade," said Dr KK Sonwane, a resident of the village, who himself is a ‘ghar jamai’.
The tradition is followed by all three major communities of the village: Marathas, Tadvi Pathan and Buddhists.
"The second reason why people proper in this village is because of power loom factories, sugar factory, Nepanagar paper mills which surrounds the village and provides employment to the residents," Sonwane added.
More than 2 lakh people of Khandwa and Burhanpur are employed in these industries.
With their hubbies and parents both with them, the girls are expectedly gleeful. "We never want to go outside this village and (all of us) want to marry a man who would come and live here," said Alisha (18), a resident of the village.
"We treat damaads with respect and have no objection to them staying here. They are just like any other family member," said Dullu Khan, whose sister's husband has been living in the house for the last six years.
The village is peaceful, rarely requiring a visit from the police.
"Being a damaad has its own responsibilities. None of them are addicted to any vices for they don't want to lose respect," said Prahlad Mahajan, 78, one of the oldest damaads of the village who came here about 50 years ago.
The sons-in-law are also given a share in the ancestral property.
And most of the sarpanch of the village, which were elected in last 60 years, were also damaads.
"We believe damaads are a boon for the development of the village," Ashok Patel, a former sarpanch and a son-in-law of the village, said.