24 September 2015
The Persian wedding, which traces back to the traditions of Zoroastrianism, is considered one of the most important events in Persian culture.
When it comes to the wedding, all acquaintances are invited to the ceremony. there will be an extravagant feast and celebration, and usually the host families spare no expenses.
Also, the majority of the Iranian population uphold all these steps. In the following you'll find the elements and steps of the Persian wedding:
Khastegari, or asking for the intended's hand:
this step is the first in the wedding process. in the old days, usually the tradition called for the elders and the families to arrange the marriages. when the son of the family reached an appropriate age for marriage, his parents would take him to meet eligible women and families fit for him.
Eligibility here mostly relates to the woman's family, meaning their occupations, religious associations and financial state.
After a few meetings with the desired woman's family, the man's (suitor) family would ask for the woman's hand in marriage.
Though Khastegari is very important, the full tradition is rarely performed these days. the one aspect that still remains the same is that in the end, it is essential to ask the family for the bride's hand in marriage before actually proposing to her.
After the Khastegari, we arrive at the main part which is called Aroosi.
Aroosi consists of two main sections (Aroos in Farsi means bride); the first being Aghd, which is the main ceremony and Mehmoonee which is the actual reception.
In older times, Persian weddings used to take a few days time. but in the modern times due to culture changes and the fact that many people have become busier, the entire ceremony happen in a day.
in this part, the bride and groom are presented before the guests. they say their vows to each other and both sign the official contracts alongside a number of witnesses. this may seem that Aghd is completely like the western traditions, but there are a number of customs that are very unique. for example: Sofreye Aghd.
This custom is a table and tablecloth that carry a number of symbolic items.
There are a few details relating the Aghd ceremony:
After the groom is seated by the Sofreye Aghd, the bride enters the ceremony with a veil over her face and takes her seat (Left to the groom).
A canopy is held above their heads by female relatives, and one female rubs two sugarloafs together above them. another person burns an aromatic incense which is called Espand, and is believed to fend off evil and harm.
Many people believe this is the most important factor of the Persian wedding since it is very unique and interesting. we've already discussed the meaning of Aghd.
Sofre means tablecloth in the Persian Language.
This Sofre is quite familiar to another iconic one in the Persian culture: The Haft Sin.
Sofreye Aghd traces back to the Zoroastrian traditions (much like the wedding itself) and has kept its basics and hasn't changed much during the course of history. the Sofre (tablecloth) is either set on the floor or on a short pedestal of wood.
The tablecloth has to be a specific material named Termeh. other items are placed on the Sofre.
These said items are usually procured months in advance to the wedding by the families, mostly by the mother of the bride. these items all have symbolic meanings to the beautiful union.
They are listed below:
1. ayne va shamdoon (mirror and candlesticks)
Considered the most important items, these will become parts of the decorations in the couple's home as a remembrance.
In the old days, the material of these items were gold or silver, but nowadays couples mostly go for different materials.
The mirror and candlesticks are each a symbol, the mirror showing eternity and the candles show passion and brightness through fire and light (which is a huge element of Zoroastrianism).
These items are situated directly in front of the couple. since they are seated next to each other, the groom sees his bride in the mirror when she lifts the veil from her face.
2. basket of decorated eggs (tokhmé morgh) and nuts
Sofreye Aghd has a basket full of eggs which are painted (mostly gold) and different types of nuts which are also painted gold.
The eggs and nuts are placed there as a symbol of fertility.
as stated earlier, someone burns this material in front of the couple at the beginning and throughout the ceremony.
In addition to this, the material is also present on the Sofre. Burning Espand is a symbolic way of warding off the evil and harms toward the couple.
4. a book of significance for the couple
If the families are religious, the book would be the Holy Quran. however there is an interesting technicality.
The Holy Quran is opened to a certain verse about the significance of marriage.
The non-religious couples however, tend to use a book of poetry of a famous poet or a specific book that has a sentimental and important meaning in their relationship.
5. an abundance of flowers
Though many people think that flowers are on the display just for decoration, they are also a symbol of beauty and life.
as stated earlier, this white piece of cloth is held above the couple's head by relatives (mostly single females). the act of rubbing two sugar loafs together is a symbol of showering the bride and groom in sweetness.
7. tray of spices
This tray of seven spices is usually designed in a very beautiful way and is a symbol of prosperity.
8. bowl of gold coins
This bowl filled with coins also symbolizes prosperity for the couple.
9. noone sangak (specially baked flatbread)
This bread usually adorns the Sofreh in the shape of flowers. this item, yet again, is a symbol of prosperity in the future life of the couple.
10. golab (cup of rosewater)
This substance plays a big part in the Persian culture in fields like cooking. however, the reason it is used on the Sofre is to perfume the air.
11. basket of fruit
This item is displayed as a symbol of representing a fruitful future for the bride and the groom.
After the groom is asked if he is ready to enter into this marriage and he says yes, it is the bride's turn.
This part is a scenic custom and the scenario is usually like this:
Aghed (The officiant): Do you wish to accept x as your husband? The bride remains silent, while one of the guests/bridesmaids says "the bride has gone to pick flowers."
Aghed: For the second time I ask, do you accept x to be your husband? Again the bride (Aroos) remains silent and a female relative/bridesmaid may say "the bride has gone to bring Golab."
Aghed: For the third time I ask, will you accept x as your husband?
After the third time, the bride declares "with the permission of my parents and the elders, Yes."... from that point on the couple are considered married. the couple then exchange their wedding rings and afterwards, the couple usually dip their little fingers in a bowl of honey and put in each other's mouths as a symbol of kicking off the start of their marriage with sweetness.
Next, the couple receive gifts from their family members and with that, the Aghd ceremony is over and the reception begins.