Sikh religious leaders have issued an edict to their community to end lavish weddings that involve days of revelry as a measure to discourage dowry demands.
By enforcing austere weddings, the Delhi Sikh Temple Management Committee also hopes to prevent the outlawed but growing practice among Sikhs of aborting foetuses discovered to be female.
Paramjit Singh Sarna, the head of the committee, said: “It is this splurge of wealth on ceremonies that is promoting dowry and practices like female foeticide.”
Mr Sarna recommended a simple wedding in a Sikh temple concluded before the auspicious pre-noon period followed by a teetotal and vegetarian reception. He warned that those straying from the ascetic guidelines would not be issued with wedding certificates.
Across India girls are considered a liability as expensive dowries have to be paid at weddings that themselves cost a great deal. Even the poorest of peasants come under peer pressure to organise lavish weddings and often take out loans that burden the family with debts.
The Sikhs’ home state of Punjab has 793 females per 1,000 males, the lowest in the country as many female foetuses are aborted following ultrasound tests proscribed by law for several years.
India’s national average, according to the 2001 census, stood at 933 females for every 1,000 males.
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