What Is A 'Pakadua Vivah' And Why Bihar Is Seeing A Return Of The Phenomenon

Abhishek Kumar

Apr 04, 2024, 08:27 PM | Updated Apr 05, 2024, 12:44 PM IST

Kidnap a man, get him married at gunpoint.
Kidnap a man, get him married at gunpoint.
  • Bihar's complacency on economic front is proving to be catalyst in re-rise of Pakadua Vivah phenomenon.
  • On 27 March 2024, a revenue officer named Rintu Kumar was forcefully married to a girl in Begusarai district of Bihar. Dozens of such cases have been reported in the last one year, which are miniscule percentage of unreported ones.

    This type of marriage is colloquially known as ‘Pakadua Vivah’ in Bihar. It is a system under which boys of marriageable age having good career prospects (mainly government jobs) are forced to marry to a girl. Most of the time the boys are abducted at gunpoint and even forced to consummate the marriages.

    Official statistics state the number of such marriages is two to five thousands per year, gross underestimation according to local accounts. The issue has been highlighted in movies like Antardwand and Jabariya Jodi among others.

    Why did it even begin?

    The phenomenon began in the 1970s in Ganga belt of Bihar, mainly in Begusarai district.

    The traditional dominance of land-owning communities of the time was under threat due to national politics of the day and its trickle down effects. On one hand were land reforms of the Indian state, while on the other Socialism and Communism were spreading their wings, demanding for abolition of the old social structure.

    With pressure increasing on the traditional sources of dominance, the land-owning groups turned to the occupy bureaucracy, a livelihood frowned upon by them in the 50s and 60s. The shift was quick and abrupt. Men got involved in government jobs while for girls’ parents, looking for government job-holders as groom took precedence over zamindar’s son.

    Parents of boys having government jobs now demanded hefty dowries, which the majority of girls’ parents could not fulfill. One of the fallouts of this was the Pakadua Vivah phenomenon.

    It transcended caste and region boundary

    With time, this practice caught up with those who did not have the economic means to conduct the wedding of their daughters. Sadly, their numbers are large even today.

    A change in the methodology also began to be seen. Initially boys were fooled into going to certain places in the name of a meeting or a party or other social functions, and were married off on the spot. Mostly family members, friends or distant relatives used to execute this by taking advantage of the boy's trust.

    Under the new practice, criminal gangs picked up the desired grooms, hand them over to families, get him married, click pictures and force him to consummate the marriage. Depending on the strength of the gang, they used to charge anything between two to ten thousand rupees, less than 10 per cent of the total marriage expense of a formal marriage in the 70s, 80s, 90s and even early 2000s.

    How much is dowry responsible ?

    Failure to establish industry and gradual death of established ones led to more youth of Bihar gravitating towards government jobs.

    But securing a government job required quality education, which government schools in Bihar couldn’t provide. Private but expensive schools came as a replacement and people invested heavily on their kids’ education with the hope that dowry will make up for it.

    Despite that, it would be incorrect to blame only the dowry system for rapid expansion of Pakadua Vivah. Pakadua Vivah in fact became an instrument for men who belonged to affluent families but did not have government jobs.

    These men and their well-wishers found a way out in gangs involved in these marriages. The gangs, which slowly graduated to mediators, talk to girls’ families, present the groom's case, take their cut and execute the whole operation. Sometimes, gang leaders also married off their daughters like this.

    It is partially true that the Pakadua Vivah had lost momentum between 2005-15.

    However, today the state seems to be going back to square one. It is evidenced by Pakdua Vivah of teachers recruited through Bihar Public Service Commission (BPSC).

    Abhishek is Staff Writer at Swarajya.

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