Editor's Note: This article is in Gujarati. It was originally written in 1964. It has been scanned from વીસમી સદીનું ગુજરાતી નારીલેખન ("Vees-mi Sadee-nun Gujarati Nari-lekhan", 20th Century women's writing in Gujarati). Nikhil Desai has provided this brief description of the article.
Gangaben Patel (1890-1972) wrote this essay "Dharmaj" (a village) in 1964. She describes how a young bride was brought to her new home, what she brought with her, and the customs of greeting her. She says she was only nine when she came to Dharmaj, implying that's when she got married. She describes various jewelry pieces in detail.
Toward the end, she writes "Because of these customs, if a girl arrived in a poor home, she was just returned. A quarter's worth of opium, and she went from the womb to the earth."
She also describes how sometime in the 1860s her caste group had passed, under her grandfather's lead, some reforms limiting the cost of marriage to a girl coming from a particular "six village" grouping (and presumably marrying in those villages). Then she mentions how this in turn led to some families looking for brides outside those six villages and collecting more money than they were allowed under their caste group's rules.
A few months ago, I heard my mother say that in the caste group we belong to, "Girls could marry into the village, but not could marry out." I asked her if this was because of a shortage of girls. She said, "Who knows? Back then, people wanted to keep an eye on their daughters after they were married, and make sure they were treated well or else complain to the caste council."
The story in Gujarati, scanned from the original, is available by clicking here in pdf format.
Story in Gujarati © Gangaben Patel 1964
Synopsis in English © Nikhil Desai 2011
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