traditional thai marriage and sin sod

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I was approached by a friend who asked how I would explain the traditional Thai marriage to a foreigner. I thought of it and I figured it would be an interesting topic to write about … even if it totally has nothing to do with the general theme of my blog. It’s the kind of knowledge that is not even common in Thais.

It’s not commonly discussed because it is a kind of touchy subject in Thai traditions. I mean, my mom doesn’t even discuss this with me. I’ve asked her how much would my Sin Sod be if someone were to ask me to marry him and she would just say, “It’s going to be a lot, that’s all you have to know.” (Thanks, mom. Love you, too.)
So, I think it would be interesting to cover this traditional Thai marriage and ‘Sin Sod’ in this article. There are so many sources online that aren’t really that accurate. Instead of making things clearer, they made it sound worse than it really is. So, I am going to try and explain this as accurate and as simple as I can. This information comes from bugging and asking my grandparents, my parents, aunties and uncles that I have. Here goes …
Traditional Thai weddings usually consisted of 2 parts: the legal part (signing the marriage certificate at the Amphur or the registration office in the province you’re living in), and the more important part which is the ceremonial part. These two parts are usually done separately.
The bride and groom can go to the Amphur and legalize the marriage prior to the marriage ceremony, however, the unless the ceremony is completed, it’s not ‘official’ in the Thai’s point of view.
The ceremonial part usually involved more than one location. Usually, the house the bride and groom are moving into and the temple. Since Thailand is a Buddhist country, it is vital to have a ceremony at a temple, however, there are no government documentations required for this part of the ceremony. It’s more like a gathering of friends and family to bare witness to the event.
Also a bride token or ‘Sin Sod’ is common. So if you are a foreigner and is planning to marry your Thai girlfriend … expect this from the bride’s family.

There are a lot of misleading information about Sin Sod online. First of all, Sin Sod is NOT a dowry. You are not buying your Thai girlfriend so please do not approach her family like you are going to BUY their daughter.

Why do you have to offer Sin Sod?

  1. Sin Sod as repayment
    Sin Sod can be considered as a repayment for the money the family invested in the daughter from putting food on the table to putting her through university. It is also referred to as payment for the ‘mother’s milk’.
  2. Sin Sod as income replacement
    Traditionally, the family is taken care by the eldest unmarried daughter. Sin Sod, in this case, is the amount of money to replace the income for the parents because once the daughter is married out, she is not expected to send a portion of her salary to the family anymore. This money is, then, the income supplementary once the daughter is married.
  3. Sin Sod as insurance
    Security fund for the family and the daughter who’s getting married herself. Because of how the Thai society works in the old days, it is very hard for married women or women with children to find another decent man of decent stature to marry her. Sin Sod, in this case, acts as an insurance in case the relationship didn’t work out and the husband took off.

 

In Thai culture, the women don’t always get to walk away with half of everything like in a lot of western countries when they divorced. So Sin Sod is an insurance to help support the family while the women tried to find a job to take care of her family after the big D-word.

What factors affect the amount of Sin Sod?

1. Age and societal status

If the woman is from an influential family and she is young, expect that the family will most likely ask for a ridiculously high amount of Sin Sod.

This is because when it comes to marrying a foreigner, it’s all about FACE in Thailand. Sometimes, if the women’s family is asking for a high amount of Sin Sod, it’s not really because they want to con the foreigner. But marrying a foreigner, the amount of Sin Sod of less than 200k would be considered a loss of face and face is everything. Not just for her, but also for the family and for you and your family as well.

2. Agreement between the two families

However, the amount of Sin Sod is usually the amount that is agreed upon by both the bride’s and groom’s families. So there are some wiggle room for the groom when it comes to the amount of Sin Sod agreed.

3. Don’t expect it back and don’t ask for it

It is unacceptable to ask for this amount of money back. The family might choose to offer a portion of it back in some cases, but it’s not for the groom or his family to ask for it back.

I hope this has been an interesting read. If you would like to see more articles regarding to the Thai traditions and cultures, or if you have questions and curiosities regarding Thai cultures and traditions, please let me know and I’ll try to cover the subject as best I can.

Have you ever been to Thailand? What did you enjoy most about your visit? Share in the comment section below.

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