Dowry? What's that?
It was an alliance between two well-off families and the competition to outdo each other in the gifts exchanged - an integral part of the wedding and the most keenly awaited and debated part of the customs I was told - was keenly contested.
Thirty shiny gift-wrapped baskets went from the girl's side to the boy, but woe begone, they sent only 27 in return. And then their mithai (sweetmeats) was not as good. "We sent seven types of mithai," announced a relative from the girl's side proudly as she condescendingly looked at the "only five" baskets from the groom's side.
If you are wondering what was packed into the thirty baskets, here is the lowdown: Towels for the bride and groom, sweets, clothes galore for the mamas, mamis, masis and mausas (aunts and uncles), the grandmothers and the bhabhis (brother-in-law's wife). The entire entourage of thirty needed two ambassador cars to be transported to the groom's house I was told.
When the gifts arrived from the bride's side (remember they just sent 27 baskets compared to the groom's thirty. After all in the Indian context, the girls party is always expected to be more generous in giving!) the most sought after basket was the sister-in-laws. The continuing query: have they given her something in gold?