Thai Culture & Customs

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The Thai Bride Dowry
Date 26-04-2010 | Views  3453

The Thai dowry is known as the "Sin Sot".
It is money given by the groom to his brides family. By tradition the groom is expected to pay a "Sin Sot" to the brides family. Traditionally in Thailand the wife would leave the family home upon marriage and move in with her husband's family.  Thus her family had lost a pair of hands, and thus labour, the sin sot is to financially compensate them for this, and also to show that the groom is capable of taking care of their daughter financially. The sin sot is also seen as re-imburisng the family for the cost of raising a child.  Also, the "sin sot"  is seen as a kind of guarantee, so that if the husband leaves his wife, she is will have some money to look after herself.
In the past in Thailand, and to some extent today, a divorced woman is seen as being "spoiled goods", and is not ideal material for a wife.  So if she is divorced, she might struggle to have a good life and the "sin sot" could be used to provide for her. This practice is absolutely normal in Thai culture, although many Westerners see this as a scam. Westerners tend to believe that marriage is about love and that money should not be a factor.
Nowadays, the dowry is often returned to the couple after the wedding and is only symbolic, but the social status can also play a part. Wealthy families generally return the "sin sot" to the couple once married, however, poorer Thai families may keep the "sin sot" to pay off debts or even squander!
The amount of "sin sot" paid usually depends on the social status of the family and/or the level of education of the bride or her income. A "sin sot" of a million baht for an uneducated woman is unheard of. A "sin sot" for an average, educated, middle class  Thai, would normally be around 100,000 Baht.
This can vary, and should the bride be a divorcee, normally no "sin sot" is paid. If she has children from a previous marriage or relationship no "sin sot" is paid either.

When registering a Thai marriage, the "sin sot" plays no part. There is no need to show that a "sin sot" has been paid as it is not part of the Thai legal system. "Sin Sot" is a Thai tradition not a Thai law.