Storytelling on being human in Kolkata, formerly Calcutta, the second capital of India with a population of 14.7 million people in an area of 185 square kilometer. Chaotic human existence in North India, mostly characterized by extremes. With a diversity in belief, naming just a couple of the groups living together: Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist, Baha’i, Sikhs, Nepali and Bengali. Marriage and building a family are at the roots of Indian community and everyday city life.
Getting in a taxi cab, I ask the driver where families and women are about in the family communities of India. The driver tells me a story about his three young sons and that he starts saving money for the fortune of their future brides. The feminine qualities of elegance, motherhood and care play an important role of happiness and fortune in the community life. He explains that men and brothers are the ones making the plans in the community life, while women only assist them. When a couple marries, the parents of the son first decide on the daughter for marriage. Why? Because the women’s family offer their fortune for the hand of the man. She gives meaning of fortune, known as Lakshmi – the god of wealth and prosperity. This is called dowry system in India. But the payment of a dowry has been prohibited under the 1961 Dowry Act in Indian civil law.
In Hindustan Indian culture a woman is important because she carries the meaning of happiness and fortune in the family – Lakshmi. When a man marries a woman, his family has to pay money for the meaning of happiness she brings. A wealthy marriage is highly valued in the chaos of city life.
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