Tha Thai Version Eng Version Eng  
Main page Background Lanna belief and tradition Lanna tradition Experts on Lanna tradition Artisans on Lanna rituals Our patrons Links
Last update: 07/17/2012
เว็บไซต์และฐานข้อมูลประเพณีล้านนา โดย
สำนักหอสมุด มหาวิทยาลัยเชียงใหม่

The Lanna wedding tradition
Phit Phi
            During the courtship, the girl has to be careful as some men may try to take advantage of her, especially in the case that the two parties do not intend to be serious. Thus, the girl will take care to move away to keep a certain space between them. Sometimes, she has to move further to her bedroom or cross the threshold to sit inside the room. The man is not supposed to cross over it. If a man happened to hold the girl's hand or cross over the threshold of her room, the girl would cry out until the parents woke up.

When they found out about it, they would be offended and demand reparation since the act was considered "phit phi" or offending the ancestral spirit. The following morning, they would inform the man's parents of the incident and the parents would have to pay for the offense and arrange to give a sacrifice offering to the ancestral spirit.
And if the girls did not care for him, they would not proceed further to hold a wedding and they would not let their daughter talk with the man anymore.
            If the man behaved rudely and did not keep to the traditions and the relationship had not developed to the point of being "tua pho – tua mae" and the man touched the girl, she would feel offended and her parents would strongly reprimand him. He is liable to perform the "sia phi" ritual. In this case, they would refuse to take him as their in-law, which is called "sia phi mai ao". The cost of the rite would depend on whether the spirit preferred chickens or pigs.
The normal "sia phi" is not as expensive as "sia phi mai ao". Usually, violating the spirit (phit phi) ends with a marriage. However, some men refuse to marry the woman. But in some rare cases, the girl refuses to marry the man, especially if they find out that he is a drunkard or a gambler. Her parents would return his "sia phi" money, which is called "phi khuen" and take the responsibility of holding the feast for the spirit themselves.
A situation like this (phi khuen) could make the two parties become outcasts and persecuted by the community. The news could spread outside the village and the girl will have no man come courting and the man would not be welcome to visit a girl or talk with one by any means.
            When the two parties agree to develop their relationship seriously, they have to vow not to touch one another and only some casual hand holding is allowed. Violation of this is considered "phit phi" and the girl has to notify her parents within 3 days of the violation; otherwise, the spirit will become angry and cause disaster to their animals or crops. Illness in the family whose girl has become involved in a courtship could cause her to be ostracized by society. As soon as her parents find out about the "phit phi", they have to inform the man's parents speaking in a riddle (sanya) as follows:
            "Last night your buffalo went crashing through my fence and caused us some damages. Please come and repair it."
            The man's parents will know right away what has happened and question their son to get the truth. Then they take a tray of flowers, candles and incense sticks along with one bundle each of betel nut, betel leaves (10 strings of dry split betel nuts and 100 betel leaves divided into 5 sets each), one pig's head and four chickens (two chickens are equal to one pig's head or 4 pig's feet) and some sweets.
            As they reach the girl's house, they have to say, "We came today to fix your fence that was destroyed by our buffalo." Later, they make it less complicated by giving the girl's parents 12 Baht for the spirit feast so they can arrange it by themselves and it must be done between 3-7 days before the spirit gets angry and causes illness in the family. The girl's parents have to spend all of the amount given for it. Any left over money is called "phi khang" which cannot be allowed. After the feast, they will divide up the pork and chicken among their clan that has the same spirit line. The amount required for this is different. In some districts of Lamphun in the past it was 3 Baht because they offered just a little of each thing or dish and not a whole chicken and pig's head (Udom Rungroengsi and Silao Kaetphrom, 1999, 2583 – 2586).
Northern Thai Information Center (NTIC),
Chiang Mai University Library in collaboration with Information Technology Service Center
239 Huay Kaew Rd., Mueang District, Chiang Mai, Thailand 50200
Tel. +66 (0) 5394 4514, +66 (0) 5394 4517 email:
Copyright © 2009 Chiang Mai University. All Rights Reserved.