In Bihar, India—where the bride’s family traditionally pays a dowry—residents are planting the seeds for women’s progress.
Families in Dharhara village have started a new tradition: planting 10 trees whenever a girl is born.
But the gesture is not just symbolic—when it comes to marriage, the benefits are as sweet as the lychees and mangos that will grow.
Subhas Singh, the father of a 19-year-old daughter who is set to marry this month, describes the trees he planted as “our fixed deposits.” He explains that he sold off the fruit three years in advance to pay for his daughter’s wedding.
But the benefits of tree planting extend beyond his daughter’s case.
In a state that is notorious for the greatest number of dowry deaths (murders or suicides that result from in-laws' attempts to extort increased dowries) in all of India, says school teacher Subhendu Kumar Singh: "This is our way of meeting the challenges of dowry, global warming, and female foeticide. There has not been a single incident yet of female foeticide or dowry death in our village."
Dharhara village, which has a population of scarcely more than 7,000, now boasts 100,000 fully grown trees.
Photo: cliff1066™/Creative Commons via Flickr
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