Odisha’s “No Dowry” Village is What All of India Should Aspire to Be

Gender

Odisha’s “No Dowry” Village is What All of India Should Aspire to Be

Illustration: Shruti Yatam

In large parts of India, the birth of a baby boy is celebrated more than the girl. However, Odisha’s Majhipara village is different. In this village, the birth of a baby girl calls for celebration, with the mother being gifted new clothes, sweets and grains. The child receives everyone’s blessings and there’s a feast outside the house throughout the day.

In India which witnesses the highest number of female foeticide cases in the world, we could all learn from this tiny village in Odisha.

The birth of a baby girl to 23-year-old Sneha Jani last week has led to a wave of celebrations in the village. For the tribal inhabitants of Majhipara, located within the dense forests of Satkosia in Angul, a girl child is a blessing of God.

As reported by The New Indian Express, Majhipara is home to 320 tribal persons, out of which 180 are women. Tradition has played a key role in this healthy sex ratio. Unlike the village in the neighbourhood, where the male child gets preference, there’s no gender discrimination in Majhipara. For example, no person in the village asks for or takes dowry. Now that is something we could immediately use all over the country.

A woman leader of the village Biraja Jani pointed out that the birth of a girl child is a “happy occasion” where people exchange sweets and send the mother goodies. “A daughter’s wedding is never a burden for parents here. We do not have to search for a groom. When our daughters attain marriageable age, the groom’s family comes to our village and solemnise the wedding”, said Biraja.

Majhipara’s progressive worldview towards the girl child extends far beyond birth. There is also a tradition in the village that prior to a marriage, the groom’s family offers 12 cows and goats and those who can’t, give ₹12 to the bride’s family.

The government has also made efforts to improve the sex ratio in various parts of the state which are lagging behind. Under the “Mo Gelha Jhia” programme, the district administration celebrates the birthday of every girl born in the Ganjam district.

On a fixed date, authorities along with girl students visit the house of the newborn. The girl and her parents are felicitated with a baby kit, flower bouquet, sweets and certificate. Besides, a bank account is opened in the name of the newborn under Sukanya Samrudhi Yojana.

When it comes to gender equality, we can all get behind the Majhipara model.

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