Muslim-dominated Nilambur village panchayat in Malappuram district has embarked upon a mission to make the village dowry-free. If the local body succeeds in the year-long drive,Nilambur would emerge as the first dowry-free panchayat in the country.
The local body has lined up a slew of projects,mainly sensitization programmes,to wean the people away from the practice of dowry. The panchayat would,next week,launch a website,www. dowryfreemarriage.com,on which prospective brides and grooms from Nilambur and elsewhere can upload their profiles and fix matches without dowry.
Panchayat president Aryadan Shoukath told The Indian Express that the panchayat recognised the magnitude of the menace during the implementation of a housing project in the village. Hundreds of people in the village had pledged their houses to meet the marriage expenses of their daughters. These people had been seeking financial aid from the panchayat to repay the loans,said Shoukath.
The panchayat then conducted a survey with the help of Mahila Samakhya Samithi,under the HRD ministry. It was found that around 60 weddings were held in the panchayat territory within a month,with each family spending about Rs 3 lakh on dowry.
Workshops have been held to enlighten parents and youths about the findings of the survey. Delhi-based firm O D Alternative conducted the workshops free of charges. For many Muslim men,sitting beside women for a public function was a first experience,” said Shoukath.