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August 28th, 2007
The Dying Fields
Daily Life in Vidarbha: Weddings
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As in most rural areas, the people of Vidarbha are inclined to steeply follow century-old traditions. The most common religion in the region is Hinduism, followed by Islam and Buddhism as minority religions.

Traditional Hindu weddings often last four or five days and are elaborate and expensive. To relieve the financial burden for poor farmers, the government launched an initiative to conduct mass weddings. These communal weddings are relatively simpler ceremonies in which couples exchange garlands and a mangalsutra — a gold or black-beaded necklace, the Indian equivalent of a wedding ring. As many as 1,000 couples can tie the knot at once at some of the communal weddings.

Another reason for burdensome wedding expenses is the pervasive Indian dowry system, which, is still practiced today in spite of being prohibited by the government in 1961 after hundreds of women were burnt to death by their husbands for not producing sufficient dowries. The government issues small payments to each couple, which families use to offset dowry payments.

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