Difference between Dowry and Stridhan

Dowry is derived from the ancient Hindu customs of “Kanyadan” and “Stridhan”. In “Kanyadan” the father of the bride offers the father of the groom money or property, etc. Whereas “Stridhan”, means personal gifts, like ornaments, clothes etc. for the bride herself given by parents, relatives or friends. (Simran Chendha “The Issue of dowry,” Women’s Link, vol. 2, (2008) p. 51)

According to the Smritikar, give reference the Stridhan constituted those properties which she received by way of gift from her relations, which included mostly property (though sometimes a house, or a piece of land was also given in gift), such as ornaments, jewelry and dresses. The gift made to her by strangers at the time of the ceremony of marriage (before the nuptial fire) or at the time of the bridal procession also constituted her Stridhan. Among the Commentators and Digest – writers, there is a divergence of opinion as to what items of property constitute Stridhan and what do not. Vijnaneshwara (12th Century jurist of Hindu Law) commenting on the words, “and the like” in Yajnavalkya’s text expanded the meaning of stridhan by including proprieties obtained by inheritance, purchase,
partition, seizure and finding. (This expansion was not accepted by the Privy Council which resulted in the emergence of the concept of women’s estate.) Jimutavahana (12th Century Sanskrit scholar and writer of religious treatises) gave a different enumeration of Stridhan, as did the sub – schools of the Mitakshara. (Paras

Diwan, Dowry and Protection to Married Women (Delhi: Deep & Deep Publications, 1987) p. 109.) Whether the property is Stridhan or woman’s estate mostly depends upon the source from which it has been obtained. 

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