Importance of Dowry in Thai Marriage
Deeply rooted in Thai culture is the system of showing respect to the parents and family of the Thai bride by proving that the groom can fully support his would-be wife, be a good provider and husband. This is through the so-called Thai Dowry system, more commonly known as “Sin Sodt”. This system has been linked with Thai marriages since time immemorial and until the present time, this tradition is still religiously followed.
The concept of sin sodt is a tradition initially undertaken to ensure that a Thai would-be bride does not marry below her perceived status in life. One’s financial, social, and professional standing in the society is taken into consideration. Before the bride’s family consents to the marriage, the groom should be able to provide evidence that he deserves to be with the bride. He must be able to show that he is financially stable and responsible enough to sustain a family. He must prove that he is worthy. As such, he is expected to give a sum of money to the bride’s family to compensate the latter and exhibit financial stability.
There is no specific amount of dowry that is given as it is a case-to-case based computation. Several aspects are taken into consideration before setting the amount, such as the groom’s perceived wealth and status in life. More importantly, the value of the bride is also assessed, not to mention her educational qualifications, personality and beauty.
Although the dowry system is part of Thai marriage culture, there are instances when the giving of dowry is merely treated as a symbolic gesture to conform to tradition. Sometimes, the amount given to the in-laws will be returned to the newlyweds after the wedding. This may be given to the married couple as a gift. There are also times when no dowry is given when for example, the in-laws do not require dowry. It may also be that the amount of money intended for sin sodt may instead be used for the preparation of the weddings. It cannot be doubted that Thai wedding ceremonies are lavish so it is expected that both families will spend on this once-in-a-lifetime event. Hence, the money will be used for expenses related to the wedding.
Thais are adherent to tradition so if the groom is a foreigner, the latter can expect that a dowry will be asked. This is because Thais view foreigners as capable and good providers of a family. Hence, it is important for foreigners to gain knowledge about Thai customs and traditions, particularly on weddings and marriages in order to adapt and be the best future in-law.
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