9/28/2008

An Iranian Wedding

Four-year-old Sarah, my cousin Mehri's granddaughter, was the flower girl.
It was a beautiful wedding. It took place just before sunset in open air, overlooking the Pacific ocean. The wedding spread, sofreh aghd, was gorgeous.
I never used to cry at weddings. Something weird is going on with me, I guess. Now I do.

Things look a little different in the new Iranian-American weddings. The wedding spread, sofreh aghd, is the same and the ceremony is more or less the same. Bits of American wedding customs have started showing up in the Iranian weddings I attend these days. I don't think these additions take anything away from the Iranian customs; I think they add something to them.

When we went to sit down in our chairs, we each found a little rolled up note, tied with a ribbon. In the note, Dr. Mahmoud Kamiyabipour who was officiating the wedding, the aaghed, had written a description of Iranian wedding ceremony for the non-Iranian guests, so that they could understand and follow the ceremony. I was going to write about the ceremony myself, but I think his is a good representation of the ceremony, so I share it with you here. I'll write another post about this wedding a little later.

"The Iranian marriage ceremony goes back to the history and traditions of the country. The ceremony typically consists of two parts: the ceremony (Aghd), and the reception (Arousi). During Aghd, a Sofreye Aghd or the wedding spread is set up in front of the bride and groom. Food and other objects traditionally associated with marriage are arranged on this Sofreh. Every item on the Sofreh has symbolic meaning inherited from many centuries of Iranian history:

A mirror is lit by two candlesticks on either side. These are the main items on the spread. According to tradition, the mirror and candlesticks should be a gift from the groom, symbolyizing purity and love.

Nabaat, a bowl of flowers made of sugar crystals, is placed for sweetness in the loving relationship and home that is about to begin.

A platter of bread, feta cheese, and fresh herbs, which guests share immediately after the ceremony, are thought to bring the couple prosperity.

A basket of eggs, walnuts, almonds, and other nuts symbolize fertility.

Espand, a brazier brewing wild rue, is brought to drive away evil spirits and unpleasantness.

An open flask of rosewater is set to perfume the air with sweetness.

An assortment of sweets and pastries are set to symbolize sweetness as well.

Fresh flowers in abundance are set to express the hope that beauty will adorn the couple's life together.

A bowl of honey to bring the future as sweet and wonderful.

Two large solid sugar cones are ground over the bride and groom to shower them with sweetness.

The Holy Quran is set as a testament that the couple are committing themselves to each other in the sight of God.

As the ceremony begins, family and friends hold a square white silk or cotton cloth over the heads of the bride and groom, over which ladies grind the sugar cones, raining sweet joy and happiness down upon the couple while wishing them to have a very prosperous and good life together."

I wish the beautiful bride and the handsome groom of this wedding every joy and happiness in their new life together.

2 comments:

Hyacinth said...

Nazy jan,

Sounds like it was a lovely wedding and what a beautiful sofreh :) When my husband and I got married, we wanted a tiny informal wedding but my mom insisted that we should at the very least have a sofreh aghd...now that I look back at the pictures and think of all the wonderful memories of that day, I'm so happy that we listened to her and had a traditional aghd ceremony :)

Wishing the bride and groom a wonderful, joyful, loving, and fun marriage :)

Anonymous said...

Kiss Sara for me, and sa hi to Ahang (if I'm not mistaken the mother's name) Our sons used to go to the same school. She is a beautiful girl.