by Lena de Leon
(Taytay, Rizal, Philippines )
Traditional Thai Wedding
As with most modern countries, getting married in Thailand is both a legal and religious process.
Many Thai parents encourage their children to get married traditionally, to comply with their Buddhist beliefs.
Unfortunately, the traditional style Thai weddings are not recognized by the Thai government. So engaged couples will still have to register with their local Civil Registry Office (known as amphur), to be legally considered married by the Thai system.
Couples in Thailand are considered engaged after a ceremony called the “Thong Mun” is held. During the Thong Mun, the groom presents his bride-to-be with engagement gold, usually in the form of jewelry. Local gold is commonly used, which are measured in baht(not to be confused with the Thai national currency, which is also known as baht!).
The gold that will be presented to the bride-to-be should be measured in multiples of two. Therefore, the minimum amount of gold that could be given is 2 baht of gold(there is NO known maximum!).
Before Thai weddings are initiated, the groom will also need to give his bride-to-be’s family a “dowry”, also known as “Sin Sod”. This practice is very much traditional to Thai’s for various reasons, though not usually required for re-marriages.
The dowry is paid to make sure that the future husband is able to support his wife and to ensure that the woman does not marry below her social status. There is no fixed amount for Sin Sod, but the amount will depend on the wealth of the suitor and the “value” of his fiancé.
The overall value of the woman is determined by her background, beauty, personality, education and also things like virginity or if she already has a child. Sid Sod payments range upwards of THB 50,000 to several million Thai Baht.
Grooms need not worry too much about dowries, however, as many parents return the dowries to the couple as wedding gifts or to help pay for the wedding, unless the family is not very well off.
Many modern Thai women prefer Traditional Thai Weddings and forego the legal registry, as they believe that they will lose many of their civil rights after marriage anyway.
Traditional Thai weddings do not need Buddhist monks to preside over them, but a number of monks (from 3 to 9) may be invited to help lead the recitation of chants that will bless the couple. After the chants, powdered incense is applied to the couple’s foreheads, followed by a presentation of coiled string.
The ritual ends by the pouring of water on the couple’s hands, first by the village elder, then by each guest.
In ancient times, Thai weddings were followed by a wedding chamber ceremony. The marital bed is prepared by a married elderly couple and a plate of food that symbolizes fertility placed on top.
The newlyweds then enter the room, passing through a makeshift entrance of gold and silver, to be blessed by the elders.