The wedding traditions of Iranian marriage or Persian marriage, despite their local and regional variations (for example Iranian Azerbaijan region), like many other rituals in Iran go back to the ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Though the concepts and theory of the marriage have been changed drastically by Islamic traditions, the actual ceremonies have remained more or less the same as they were originally in the ancient Iranian culture. Although Iran is multi-ethnic country, the Iranian wedding traditions are observed by the majority of ethnic groups in Iran and neighboring countries and regions such as Republic of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan.
- 1 Before The Wedding
- 2 The Wedding Ceremony
- 3 After The Wedding
- 4 References
Before The Wedding
Khastegāri (Persian:خواستگاری) is the first step of the traditional Iranian marriage process. When it is time for a young man to get married, his family will look around to identify a number of potential brides. Some men ask their parents to suggest potential brides, if they have been unable to find one themselves. However, this has become rarer in recent years, with men and women mixing and meeting freely themselves. Once the man, or his family, have decided on a potential bride, the Khastegāri process takes place. For this ceremony, one or more representatives of the man’s family pay a visit to the woman's family. The first visit is purely for the parties to become acquainted with one another. The first visit does not include a formal proposal and there is no commitment - it is perfectly acceptable for the man and his family to go for more than one Khastegāri in a short period of time. Following the first visit, both parties can begin to think more seriously about whether they would like to pursue a relationship. Both the woman and the man have their say in whether or not they would like a follow up to this visit.
The Second Khastegāri
At the Second Khastegāri (Persian: خواستگاری دوم) a marriage proposal is made by the suitor and his family. The woman’s family welcome the party and invite them to sit in the reception room.
At first, members of the bride’s family talk about the virtues of the girl. Traditionally, modesty was among the most highly valued qualities, along with domestic skills like cooking, embroidery, and entertaining at social gatherings (Mehmān Navāzi); less emphasis is placed on these characteristics nowadays. In modern times important characteristics are the education level and intelligence of the girl, her ability to make the most of the situation when times get tough, and her future prospects. After hearing about the potential bride, the man's family will discuss his own merits, usually his education and/or career prospects. The woman's parents will normally ask the suitor if he is able to provide her with accommodation, and if he is able to support their daughter financially. They may also discuss any religious commitments.
The most important part comes when the bride’s father calls for the tea to be served. In the most traditional families, the first time that the man and woman see each other is when she enters to offer tea and pastries to the guests. At the end of the second Khastegāri, the man and the woman will be given time alone to talk in private. This usually involves a discussion about what they want for the future.
It is important to note that, nowadays in most families, the first two Khastegaris are done in one step. Usually, the man and the woman already know each other and are the ones who have instigated the ceremony.
Baleh Borān (Persian: بله بران) is the ceremony which takes place a short period of time after the formal proposal, publicly announcing the couple's intention to form a union. At this stage, both the man and woman are happy with each other and, traditionally, both their families have agreed to the union and any conditions surrounding the marriage.
The groom's parents usually give a gift to the bride at this ceremony. According to an ancient Zoroastrian practice, this is done by the groom's family in order to persuade the bride to accept the proposal. The traditional gift is a ring.
Hanā Bandān (Henna Night)
Hana Bandān (Persian: حنابندان, Azerbaijani: Xına Gecəsi خینا گئجه سی, Turkish: Kına Gecesi meaning: Henna Engaging) is the ceremony held one day before the wedding in the home of bride and groom. It generally takes place at the girl’s home and among women, although either side can choose to host it. It is very popular in Iranian Azerbaijan region, neighboring Azerbaijan Republic, and Turkey. Usually dry henna brought by the bridegroom’s family is broken to pieces in a silver or copper vessel by a woman whose father and mother alive, not experienced any separation. After preparing the bride, veil ornamented with red flake is placed over her head, and she is brought into the middle with hymn and folk songs about henna.
Henna that has earlier kneaded with water is brought in on a tray surrounded by candles and placed in the middle of the room. In some places, the henna is first put on the hands of the bride and then distributed to the guests; in other areas the henna is first distributed to the guests, and only after everybody has left is it placed on the bride’s hands. If the woman so wishes, henna can also be placed on her feet and hair. Considerable attention is paid to charging a woman with a happy marriage to knead and distribute the henna and apply it to the girl’s hand. The woman places the henna on one of the bride’s hands, and a young girl places it on the other. Before the henna is applied, coins or gold are also placed in her hands. After woman who came together for dying henna leave, close friend of the bride remain with her and enjoy themselves till morning.
The Namzādi ceremony (Persian: مراسم نامزدی) takes place at the bride's family home. The man and woman, alongside their families, will determine "the gift of love", known as the Mehriyeh, as well as the date of the wedding. This may be held as early as a year before the wedding itself, in order to allow time for all the wedding arrangements to be made.
The Iranian engagement ceremony, known as the Namzadi, involves the bride and groom exchanging rings, followed by a reception and/or party.
It is tradition to eat Bamieh sweet in the Shirini-Khoran The sharing of refreshments that follows the Nāmzadi ceremony is called Shirin Khorān (Persian:شیرینی خوران lit. eating sweets) including tea and Persian desserts such as bāmiyeh (light doughnut balls), Nān-e berenji (rice flour cookies), chocolates, ājil (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.
The Jahāz Barān (Persian: جهاز بران) also known as Tabagh Barān (Persian:طبق بران) ceremony is 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 (Persian: طبق). This ceremony is also called Tabagh Bārān. Although this tradition might be practice in small towns and villages but in cities, such as Tehran, means of transportation is used deliver the gifts to the bride.
The Wedding Ceremony
Iranian Sofreyeh Aghd
Sofreyeh Aghd (Table of Wedding)
There is a very elaborate floor spread set up for Sofreyeh Aghd (Persian:سفره عقد), including several kinds of food and decorations. Items in the include:
The Seven Herbs: Khashkhash (poppy seeds), Berenj (rice), Sabzi Khoshk (Angelica), Salt, Rāziyāneh (Nigella seeds), Chāyi (black tea leaves) and Kondor (Frankincense). The Seven Pastries: Noghl, Baklava, Toot (Persian marzipan), Naan-e Bereneji (rice cookies), Naan-e Badami (almond cookies), Nān-e Nokhodchi (chickpea cookie) and Sohān-e Asali (saffron almond brittle) are placed on the spread and traditionally served to the guests after the ceremony. Mirror of Fate and two candelabras, 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. "Nān-o Panir-o Sabzi": Bread, Persian feta cheese, and greens are also placed on the spread to symbolize the basic food that is needed to sustain life. They are traditionally served to guests after the ceremony. Symbols of Fertility: Decorated 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. Shākh-e Nabāt: A bowl made out of rock candy. "Honey": A cup of honey should be on the spread. Immediately after the couple is married, the bride and groom each dip one pinky finger in the cup of honey and feed it to one another. Esphand: The Esphand and frankincense are sprinkled on a brazier holding hot coals producing a smoke to ward off evil eyes and purification. Coins: A bowl of gold or silver coins representing wealth and prosperity. The Sacred Text: The Avesta, Qur'an, Bible, or Torah is placed in front of the couple on the spread. Some families also add a poetry book such as Rumi's Diwan-e Shams-e Tabrizi, Hafiz's Divan, or the Shahnameh by Ferdowsi.. Prayer Rug: A prayer rug (Jāyeh Namāz) or a traditional Iranian Termeh is placed in the center of the wedding spread. The prayer rug, open in the Aghd-cloth is to remind the couple of the importance of prayer to god, 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 a few unmarried female relatives (bridesmaids). Two sugar cones made out of hardened sugar are used during the ceremony. These sugar cones are softly ground together above the bride and bridegroom's head by a happily married female relative (and/or maid of honor) throughout the ceremony to shower them in sweetness. The sugar drops in the held fabric, not on their heads.
In spirit of humor, sometimes a few stitches are sewn on the cloth which is held over the bride and the groom's head. The needle will have seven threads of seven colors and will symbolize sewing the mother-in-law's tongue against saying anything rude or unholy to the bride in her future life.
After The Wedding
Traditionally, on Pātakhti (Persian:پاتختی) the bride wears a lot of floral ornaments and the decoration of the house with flowers is provided by the groom's family. The relatives of the bride and the groom bring them presents. This is usually more of a party with finger foods, sweets and drink than a sit-down dinner. The majority of the night is spent dancing and socializing. It's almost like a bridal shower, but is held after the wedding.
Pagoshā (Persian:پاگشا) literally means opening leg. is a ceremony held in the house of newly married couple's relatives. Runamā (Persian: رونما) is the name of the gift that is generally given to groom and bride by the relatives. In a way, the brand new couple's new status as "a family" is celebrated this way. In Iran, where families are a lot bigger and there are more of them around to throw parties, it is usually a very exciting and exhausting time for families of the bride and the groom who are invited to one Pagosha after another for several weeks following a wedding.
Mādarzan Salām (Persian:مادرزن سلام) literally hello mother in law is generally the morning after the wedding ceremony when groom visits his mother in law and gives gift to her.
Mah-e Asal (Iranian Honeymoon)
Mah-e Asal (Persian: ماه عسل) is a vacation spent together by a newly married couple. Northern provinces of Iran such as Mazanderan, Golestan and Gilan are very popular destinations for honeymoon. In recent years cities of Turkish Riviera such as Antalya and Alanya are attracting more Iranian newly married couples because of no visa requirement between Iran and Turkey.