The humble kitty party has been given a face-lift over the years and they have evolved from being simple afternoon soirees with home-cooked food to lavish and glamorous affairs, many women still continue to rely on their kitty groups for their financial needs.
It is common knowledge that it was considered okay to keep women excluded from the banking and financial services system until a few years ago. Their participation in the gamut of finances was only limited to maintaining a stringent household budget and a wad of cash that they may have saved at the end of the month from whatever amount they would be entitled to receive from their husbands for household expenses. While a multitude of positive changes have ushered in the last couple of years, women still have a long way to go in terms of having sufficient financial know-how and access to financial services.
The popularity of the kitty party culture in India also has its roots in the patriarchal system that primarily entrusted the male members in the family with the responsibility of managing money and financial assets. The kitty party afforded women some level of economic flexibility and a semblance of control over money.
The kitty party can be best described as a rotating savings association, wherein the members contribute a certain amount into the kitty at every meeting. The collections usually happen on a monthly basis and whoever is the host of the kitty party in a given month gets the collected sum of money. In one round, each member of the kitty has to step into the shoes of a hostess and the round is completed when all members have had the chance to do so. The modus operandi is very similar to that of chit funds wherein members of a chit fund pay an amount to the chit fund company at specific intervals for a fixed period of time. The corpus is then put into a common fund which is then given to one person selected in a lucky draw.