In India, dowry is called Dahej in Hindi, and Jahez in Arabic (derived from Islamic jahez-e-fatimi). In far eastern parts of India, dowry is called Aaunnpot. Dowry is a payment of cash or gifts from the bride's family to the bridegroom's family upon marriage. It may include cash, jewellery, electrical appliances, furniture, bedding, crockery, utensils and other household items that help the newly-weds set up their home.
In India, the dowry system puts great financial strain on the bride's family. Payment of dowry is now prohibited under The 1961 Dowry Prohibition Act in Indian civil law and subsequently by Sections 304B and 498a of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Despite anti-dowry laws in India, it is still a common illegal practice. Other laws attempting to address the problem include the Dowry and Bridal Gifts Restrictions Rules, 1976 and the Dowry Prohibition (Maintenance of Lists of Presents to the Bride and Bridegroom) Rules, 1985, which are intended to document gifts and provide complainants with stronger evidence in the event that prosecution for crimes against the bride occurs later.
Dowry in India is not limited to Hindus or any specific religion. It is widespread. For example, Indian Muslims call dowry as jahez, justify the practice in terms of jahez-e-fatimi. Islamists classify jahez into two categories: The first comprises some essential articles for the outfit of the bride as well as for conjugal life. The other is made up of valuable goods, clothes, jewelry, an amount of money for the groom's family, which is settled on after bargaining. The jahez often far exceeds the cost of the baraat and marriage parties. The jahez is separate from cash payment as Mahr or dower that Sharia religious law requires
as per section 2. Definition of" dowry". In this Act," dowry" means any property or valuable security given or agreed to be given either directly or indirectly-
by one party to a marriage to the other party to the marriage; or
by the parents of either party to a marriage or by a other person, to either party to the marriage or to any other person; at or before or after the marriage us consideration for the marriage of the said parties, but does not include dower or mahr in the case of persons to whom the Muslim Personal Law (Shariat) applies. Explanation I.- For the removal of doubts, it is hereby declare that any presents made at the time of a marriage to either party to the marriage in the form of cash, ornaments, clothes or other articles, shall not be deemed to be dowry within the meaning of this section, unless they are made as consideration for the marriage of the said parties.
Explanation II.- The expression" valuable security" has the same meaning as in section 30 of the Indian Penal Code. (45 of 1860 .)