The sai sin ceremony was my favorite part of the traditional Thai Isaan wedding with my wife, Ping Ping. Sai sin is the name of the white strings that have been blessed and then used during the wedding. Thai people also use these strings in other ceremonies such as house blessings and even funerals. During a wedding, the pa kwan (tree used in weddings and other events) holds the strings until it is time for the sai sin ceremony of the wedding.
Thai Buddhists use white strings due to the significance of white being the color of purity. Sai sin forms a circle around the wrists. The symbolism of the circle is that the circle is continuous. It never ends. A circle is forever. Wedding rings hold this same symbolism. The circle invokes the decision by the husband and wife to join in union and exist as one forever. A married couple then leaves the strings around the wrists for at least three days, but often for longer.
After three days, Ping and myself took off most of the strings. We didn’t want them to fall off as we traveled around Thailand. A couple of the strings we left on. We had so many and wanted to keep the sai sin as keepsakes from our wedding day. Numerous strings represent many well wishes for our new life as a married couple.
During the actual wedding, guests come to talk with the couple and give their blessings. Each guest gives a gift of Thai baht (currency of Thailand) to the husband and wife, who give a gift in return as well. They then tie the sai sin around the wrists of the new couple. The guest talks to the bride and groom wishing them health, good fortunes, and fertility.
While it is the longest part of the wedding, I also found it the most enjoyable. Our wedding had close to 100 people and thus took awhile to talk to everyone. It gave us the opportunity to have time alone with every one of our guests. A few of the elderly guests came to see us and tie the strings before the wedding due to their inability to sit through a long ceremony. I took this part of the wedding very serious and still keep our sai sin in a safe place to this day.