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Persian marriage: Wikis

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Persian wedding tradition, despite its local and regional variations, like many other rituals in Persia goes back to the ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Though the concepts and theory of the marriage have changed drastically by Islamic traditions, the actual ceremonies have remained more or less the same as they were originally in the ancient Zoroastrian culture.

Contents

Before the marrige

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Khawstgari

Khawstgari is the traditional Persian system for arranging marriages. When it is time for a young man to get married, his family will look around to identify a number of potential brides. Responsibility of choosing the bride falls on the parents, however, the man might suggest to his family who he would like them to consider. Once the family decide on one particular girl, the Khawstgari process, takes place. For this ceremony, one or more representatives of the man’s family pays a visit to the family of the lady whom they have in mind as his potential bride. The first visit is purely for the purpose of investigation. The first Khawstgari does not include a formal proposal. Following this visit both sides can begin to think more seriously and it is also possible that the man’s parents will look for another possible bride.

Second Khawstgari

A marriage proposal is made by the suitor and his family. The bride’s family welcomes the party and invites them to sit in the living room.

At first, members of the bride’s family talk about the virtues of the girl. Traditionally, modesty is among the characteristics most admired in a girl- also it is important for an Iranian bride to know household skills such as cooking and sewing. After that, the members of the man’s family talk about the man’s merits and achievements. The bride’s family will ask the suitor if he is able to provide accommodation, or if he can afford to support their daughter financially or not. They will also talk about religious commitment and character of both parties.

The important part is when the bride’s father says: “Let the tea be served”. Traditionally, the first time that the suitor and his family see the bride should be the time she offers tea and sweet-meals to the guests which is in the second Khawstgari.

At the end of second Khawstgari, the suitor and the woman will be given time to be alone with each other in a room and talk to each other about their ideas and interests. Usually the man and the woman ask each other questions about how their future life will be.

Bale Boroon

Bale Boroon is a ceremony which takes place weeks or months after the formal proposal, which means when the result of both families investigations are positive and acceptable and also general primary conditions which have been set during the time of proposal are acceptable by both bride and groom's families.

Groom's parents usually give a gift to the bride in "Bale-boran's" ceremony : According to an ancient document , Groom's family in order to entice acceptance of the bride and her family and definitely receiving the answer "Yes" to their request , they grant some gifts to the bride. The usual gift for this ceremony is one piece of cloth for sewing a gown and also a ring for a bride. But in religious families instead of giving cloth for sewing a gown , they give it for sewing a chador and it's not simply black but mostly its white with patterns of small flowers.

Majlis Bahs and Namzadi

The Majlis takes place at the bride’s home. The bride's and the groom's parents will determine the dowry that is to be given to the bride as well as the date of the solemnization. This may be as early as a year before the wedding itself so that arrangements could be made in advance. Often the wedding is held on one convenient weekend so as to accommodate relatives who live far away and to reduce costs.

The engagements in Iran, are very much like the wedding parties. The groom and the bride exchange rings, where they put the rings on each others right ring finger.

Shirini Khoran

It is tradition to eat Bamieh sweet in the Shirini-Khoran

The sharing of refreshments that follows the namzadi ceremony is called shirin khori (eating sweets) including tea and shirini (sweetmeats) such as bamieh/bamiyeh (light doughnut balls), zoolbia/zoolbiyah (cf. Indian jalebi sweet pretzel-shaped sweet meat), noon-e berenji (rice flour cookies), chocolates, ajil (nuts and dried fruit), are served as part of the festivities. Eating sweet food stuffs at celebratory events such as an engagement ceremony carry symbolism such as wishing for sweetness in the couple's life in general.

Hanaa Bandan

The bride's palm with Henna decorations

In Iranian weddings for decades, the bride will not be decorated with Henna as it is seen as a practice poor people in rural areas do.

Khunche

A few days before the wedding, presents from the groom's family are taken over to the bride’s house. Men from the groom's family dressed up in festive costumes carry the presents on elaborately decorated large flat containers carried on their heads. The containers are called tabagh. This ceremony is also called tabagh-baran.

The wedding ceremony

Sofreye Aghd

There is a very elaborate floor spread set up for Aghd, including several kinds of food and decorations, this is called Sofre-ye-Aghd. Items in the Sofreh include:

  • The Seven Herbs: Khashkhash (poppy seeds), Berenj(kind of wild rice), Sabzi Khoshk (Angelica), Salt , Raziyaneh(Nigella seeds), Chaay (black tea) and Frankincense (Kondor).
  • The Seven Pastries: Noghl, Baklava, Tout, Noon-preneji, Noon Badoomi, Sohaan, Halvaa.
  • Mirror of Fate and two candelbras, symbols of light and fire. When the bride enters the room she has her veil covering her face. Once the bride sits beside the bridegroom she removes her veil and the first thing that the bridegroom sees in the mirror should be the reflection of his wife-to-be.
  • The Blessed Bread: A specially baked bread with calligraphy written on it.
  • Symbols of Fertility eggs, almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts.
  • The Heavenly Fruits: pomegranates, grapes, apples.
  • Persian Rose: A cup of rose-water and a rose extracted from the Gol-e-Mohammadi (Mohammadan flower). This is to perfume the air.
  • Shaakh-e-Nabat: A bowl made out of crystallized sugar. Also a cup of honey should be on the cloth.Immediately after the couple is married they each should dip one pinky finger in the cup of honey and feed it to the other one.
  • Espand: A brazier holding burning coals sprinkled with wild rue, a popular incense. Wild rue is used in many ceremonies, rituals and purification rites. It is believed to keep the evil eye away.
  • Coins: A bowl of gold coins representing wealth and prosperity (in modern-day weddings, normal coins are even used)
  • The Sacred Text is placed on the centre of the cloth. For Christian couples, it would be the Bible,for Zorastians Avesta, for Muslims Qur'an, for Jews the Torah. Some families also add a poetry book such as Hafez Divan or Rumi Divan.
  • Prayer Carpet: "Jaa-Namaaz" spread open in the Aghd-cloth to remind the couple of importance of ritual prayer(Salat), the prayer carpet also includes a small cube of clay with prayers written on it (Mohr) and a rosary (Tasbih). Non-muslim families may or may not omit the prayer kit.

A scarf or shawl made out of silk or any other fine fabric is held over the bride and bridegroom's head (who are sitting by the Sofreh) by various married female relatives of the bride. Two sugar cones made out of hardened sugar are used during the ceremony. These sugar cones are grinded together above the bride and bridegroom's head throughout the ceremony to shower them in sugar.

Akad Nikah

In the wedding ceremony, the groom signs the marriage contract and legally agrees to provide the bride with a mahrie (dowry)which is sometimes called sidaq. The contract signing is done before the religious ceremony of Aghd Nikah. In Akad Nikah usually some verses of the Quran (followed by a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad about marriage are recited(only if one the couple are Muslims).

Then the Mullah asks the mutual consent of the couple. First the groom is asked if he wishes to enter into the marriage contract. Then the bride is asked the same question. Here the bride should make the groom wait for her hand in marriage by not answering the question right away. The scenario will be like this:

  • The Mullah: Will you accept so-and-so as your husband?

The bride should remain silent while the guests scream in the background "The bride has gone to pick flowers"

  • The Mullah: For the second time I ask, will you accept so-and-so as your husband?

Again the bride should remain silent and the female relatives will chant: "The bride has gone to bring rose-water."

  • The Mullah: For the third time I ask, will you accept so-and-so as your husband?

This time the bride says "Yes" and they are declared man and wife. From that very moment, the man and the woman will be considered mahram to each other. Once the couple is pronounced husband and wife, the Mullah asks for God's blessing to be with the couple in their lives together. The bride and groom exchange rings and kiss.

After the wedding

Walimah

Walimah is a party given by the groom's family in return for the wedding ceremony and usually includes a dinner. The bride and groom arrive together, receive and see off guests together, and dine together.

Patakhti

Traditionally, on Patakhti the bride wears a lot of floral ornaments and their marriage bed is decorated with flowers by the groom's family. This is the night of consummation. The relatives of the bride and the groom bring them presents(hadiya).

References

Wedding Planners

  • Sofreh Design Sofreh Design is a high-end company specializing in Persian wedding ceremonies and the creation of Sofreh Aghd.

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