money, goods, or estate that is given by bride's family to the groom at the time of marriage

A dowry (also known as trousseau or tocher) is the money, goods, or estate that is given to a woman at the time of her marriage. A dowry creates a fund for her support in case her husband dies. The dowry eventually goes to her sons and daughters of this marriage. At different times in history, a dowry was needed to prove that the marriage was real.[1] Sometimes the woman controlled her dowry throughout her life. Other times, her husband took control of the dowry.

Dowry started as gifts that were handed out to the bride at the time of marriage to make her stay at in-laws place more comfortable. It has hence taken an ugly turn, many parts of India still have a high incidence of dowry demands. Dowries have been illegal in India since 1961, but 90% of Indian marriages still have them. Many people still continue dowry system for their own uses . Some states with a very poor reputation with regards to dowry are - Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Tamil Nadu. This is a sad reality in Indian marriages and has gone unchecked. 35,493 brides were killed in India between 2017 and 2022 for bringing in insufficient dowry.[2]


  1. Michael MacMahon Sheehan, Marriage, family and law in medieval Europe: collected studies (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997), p. 16 & n. 1
  2. "India: 'I have been rejected by dozens of men over dowry'". BBC News. 2023-07-03. Retrieved 2023-07-04.