Video #20 | January 25, 2018
In this video I’m going to look at the question; ‘What is a Sin Sod?’
If you’re a foreign man getting married to a Thai woman it’s likely that going to find yourself asking; ‘What is a sin sod?’ at some point before the wedding ceremony? Here’s the thing; weddings in both Thai and Thai-Chinese culture traditionally involve the groom giving some sort of monetary gift to the bride’s family. This payment is called a sin sod – which can be translated into informal English as a ‘bride price’, or dowry.
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Alrighty then! Welcome to the twentieth video of Bangkok Unmasked! The YouTube channel that helps you get the most out of your visit to Bangkok city! If you’re new here, please consider subscribing! In this video I’m going to look at the question; ‘What is a Sin Sod?’
Let’s get started!
So what is a sin sod?
If you’re a foreign man getting married to a Thai woman it’s likely that going to find yourself asking; ‘What is a sin sod?’ at some point before the wedding ceremony? Here’s the thing; weddings in both Thai and Thai-Chinese culture traditionally involve the groom giving some sort of monetary gift to the bride’s family. This payment is called a sin sod – which can be translated into informal English as a ‘bride price’, or dowry. The payment is generally in the form of cash and gold, and it’s presented on an offering tray during the wedding ceremony. From my understanding, it’s intended to be a way of showing appreciation to the parents of the bride for having raised their daughter right, and as a form of compensation for them losing someone who can help with household duties.
The actual amount of the Thai wedding dowry can vary widely, but it must be agreed upon before the event takes place. For the daughter of a working-class family, the parents might expect something in the neighborhood of 100,000 baht. If your bride belongs to Bangkok’s ‘high-society’, then the amount can potentially be in the many millions of baht.
There is no set-in-stone rule for sin sod. Some families won’t ask for one at all, especially if they are more modern thinking. In some cases, the money is used for show during the wedding ceremony, and then partially or fully returned to the couple afterwards. And then in other cases, the in-laws will ask for a large sin sod and quickly spend it all on alcohol and a new car for themselves. You really won’t know what you’re expected to offer until the conversation takes place with your future bride’s family!
Sin sod problems
From what I have seen first-hand, disagreements over sin sod can sour a Thai-foreign marriage before it even gets a chance to blossom. The foreigner often feels uncomfortable with what he perceives as buying his wife from her parents. To give this issue balance through, in rural Thai villages especially, the parents risk losing face in the community if they’re seen to give their daughter away without a sin sod. That said, some foreign son-in-law’s really do get played and are pressured into paying a sin sod far higher than market value by greedy Thai parents who fail to realize – or don’t care – that creating an air of resentment at the start of their daughter’s married life doesn’t bode well for long term success of the union.
For me, the idea of giving money to my fiancée’s family before we’re married is quite out of the question, and against my ‘Western views’. Some people argue that it’s a tradition, but I disagree. I would argue that in my country, the bride’s family were traditionally supposed to pay for the whole wedding, and why should everything have to be done ‘The Thai way’. What about my values? As an aside, I got married to my wife at the Christ Church in Bangkok to both make my family happy, and try to establish context that not everything was going to be done the Thai way. I think that the key is to let your fiancée’s family know that you are there for them, and will look after them, and most importantly their daughter.
Before I close this VLOG post I have a handful more thoughts regarding sin sod explained, in no particular order.
Sin sod explained
#1. There are many examples where sin sod has been abused by a bride’s family, and it’s not just foreigners who get taken advantage of! I have seen plenty of examples where – in my opinion – Thai men have been horrifically rolled over.
#2. As an example of what Thai men can potentially offer up in dowry, in 2016 a celebrity Thai cosmetic surgeon named Nopparat Rattanawara handed over; a four carat diamond ring and other diamonds, two kilos of gold, a cheque for 20 million baht and two million in cash. Ouch!
#3. Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. If you don’t want to pay, or can’t, then don’t. If your fiancée won’t support you on this, it’s likely a big warning flag for what’s to come…
#4. Be calm when discussing sin sod with your fiancée’s family. If you are rude and antagonistic over the proposed sin sod, and worst of all make them lose face, it won’t help the relationship with your future bride!
#5. Be very careful about easily giving in to demands for money. If you are seen as a ‘soft touch’ it’s likely it’ll be the start of a very expensive relationship with your future wife’s family!
#6. In some cases, you can take the amount asked as how much the family ‘likes’ you, or give insight into how stupid/rich they think you are. Here’s the thing; if your fiancée came from a bar, or has children from a previous relationship, you shouldn’t pay much, or anything in fact! Sin Sod is really for ‘pure’ girls i.e. one who is a virgin, or effectively ‘unused’! [This might seem crass from a Western point of view, but this is my understanding of how the Thai look at things].
#7. If a girl has university degree(s) and has had an expensive education, it’s likely that you’ll be asked for more money.
#8. Related to thought #6, it’s up to you, but I would strongly advise against marrying bargirls. While some relationships do work, the odds of things working out over the long term are staggeringly bad for a whole host of reasons. [I might explore this topic in a future VLOG, but suffice to say that most men likely wouldn’t marry – a hopefully – ex-prostitute in their own country, so I don’t get why it suddenly makes sense to do so in another country with a wildly different culture].
Anyway…That’s it for this video. I hope that helps answer the question; ‘What is a Sin Sod?’ and helps go some way to resolving your sin sod 2018 problems! Expect a new video shortly. It should be posted in about a week, or so.
For all you techies out there, this video was shot on a Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus, and edited using HitFilm Express.
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Thank you very much for watching. I’ll see you next week. Goodbye.
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