By Swami Harshananda
Stridhana literally means ‘woman’s wealth’.
In the society, a woman was always required to be protected by a male member of the family. Generally speaking that responsibility had devolved on the father before marriage, on the husband after marriage and on the son after the husband’s demise.
However, since situations of emergency could always arise, provision had to be made for her maintenance. Stridhana was an important mode of achieving it. Literally, stridhana means the wealth given to the woman becomes her property with her full rights over it. The money and presents given to her by her father, mother, brothers or near relatives before her marriage and by her husband and others during or after marriage constituted of stridhana. It could include immovable property also. During her lifetime, no one else, not even her husband, had any right or control over it.
With her consent, it could be used for the good of the family during emergencies. There were rules regarding the distribution or disposal of her stridhana after her demise. Generally speaking, it was to be given to the unmarried daughters. If the husband had taken her strīdhana partly or wholly as a debt and died before clearing it, it was the duty of the sons to clear that debt.
- The Concise Encyclopedia of Hinduism, Swami Harshananda, Ram Krishna Math, Bangalore