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Zoroastrian Heritage

Author: K. E. Eduljee

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Contents

Zoroastrian Wedding Customs

Introductory Page

Diversity in Customs
Shared Core Values

Evolution in Customs

Differences in Wedding Customs

Differences in Iranian & Indian Wedding Customs

Differences in Iranian Wedding Customs. Yazdi Wedding Customs

New World Wedding customs

Other Old World Wedding Customs

Divorce

Wedding Costs

Indian Zoroastrian (Parsi & Irani)

Page1

Engagement

Overview

Age of Marriage

Family Blessings - Rupia Peravanu

Wedding Planning & Choosing the Date

Engagement - Adravanu, Devo & Sagan Ceremonies

Page2

Pre-Wedding Festivities

Madhavsaro/Madar Srava. Tree Planting Ceremony

Varadh-Patra / Remembrance

Adarni / Bridal Shower

Supra nu Murat

Page3

Wedding Day

Ceremonies Before the Marriage

Nahan or Nahn / Ritual Bath

Garments & Accessories

Groom's Garments

Bride's Garments

Venue

The Gathering

Wedding Stage

Arrival of the Couple

Achu Michu

Var Behendoo - Hand Dipping

Ara Antar - Curtain of Separation

Hathevaro - Joining of Hands in Love & Respect

Chero Bandhvanu - Binding Around Couple

Page4

Marriage & Reception

Marriage Ceremony

Lighting the Spiritual Flame

Setting

Religious Ceremony / Payvand-e-Zanshooi

Candle Lighting

Haath Borvanu - Hand dipping

Pag Dhovanu - Foot Washing

Gifts

Visit to a Fire Temple

Reception

First Night

Iranian Zoroastrian

Page 1

Yazdi Wedding Customs

Traditional Yazdi Wedding Customs

Preliminaries

Proposal

Engagement Ceremony

Tour for Gifts & Shower

Betrothal Ceremony

Henna Ceremony

Gift of Shoes Ceremony

Guests & Festivities

Dinner of Acceptance

Ceremony of Taking the Bride

Marriage Ceremony

Nuptial Rites

Feast of the First Day

Concluding Dinner

Pogoshi Ceremony

Recent Day Yazdi Customs

Wedding Tray

Page 2

Modern Iranian Wedding Customs

Making a Proposal - Khastegari

Engagement - Namzadi & Shirin Khori

Wedding Costs

Khoncheh - Wedding Gifts

Wedding Day Customs

Clothes

The Entrance

Wedding Tray

Sofreh Aghd - The Wedding Spread

Marriage Ceremony / Payvand-e-Zanshooi

Wedding Festivities - Jashn-e Aroosi

Page 2. Modern Iranian Wedding Customs


» Page 1: Yazdi-Zoroastrian Wedding Customs


Note: We are seeking information and photographs on a modern Iranian Zoroastrian wedding, the Gavah-giri (we have a page that describes a traditional Yazdi-Zoroastrian Wedding). If you can assist, please send the material to enquiry@heritageinstitute.com (or click here). The information below depicts for the main part an Islamic Iranian marriage ceremony with a focus on the Zoroastrian roots of many of its customs and symbols, and thereby some customs shared in common.

During the taking of the wedding vows in an Iranian Zoroastrian marriage ceremony, the officiating priest reads the andarz or advice, a tradition similar to that of Parsi or Indian Zoroastrian weddings.

Also see:
Iran Chamber Society, Iranian Marriage Ceremony, Its History & Symbolism, by Massoume Price.
CAIS, Family Law in Ancient Iran by Mansour Shaki (Sassanian era).


Making a Proposal - Khastegari

A marriage proposal is made by the suitor, the khastegar, and his family, by visiting his intended's family to ask for her hand in marriage. The bride's family welcomes the party and invites them to sit in the living room where the visitors are offered tea and sweet-meats called shirini.

The system is similar to the older Yazdi system described in page 1. If the woman and her family accept the proposal, the families jointly agree on an engagement date.


Engagement - Namzadi & Shirin Khori

In keeping with the older customs, the engagement ceremony, called a namzadi or a declaration (cf. namzad - spoken for) takes place at the bride's home. The couple exchange rings and receive the blessings of their parents and guests.

Bamieh (left) and Zoolbia (right)
Bamieh (left) and Zoolbia (top-right)

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 and sweet words in particular.

Engagement rings are usually plain gold rings, while marriage rings - especially the bride's - can be lavish in design.


Wedding Costs

In Iran, the groom's family often pay for all the wedding costs.


Khoncheh - Wedding Gifts

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.


Wedding Day Customs

Iranian wedding showing the sofreh aghd
Iranian (religion unknown) wedding showing the sofreh aghd (see below)

Clothes

Traditionally, both the bride and the bridegroom dress in white garments with garlands of flower on their necks. Yazdis appear to favour the colour green.

Nowadays, while the bride continues to wear white, the grooms wear a suit or any colour and garlands are seldom worn.


The Entrance

If the older rites are followed, the groom will have been seated at the head of the sofreh aghd (see below) to await the arrival of the bride. Some brides choose to enter escorted by their fathers.

Someone from the wedding party holding the brazier with espand may greet the groom and bride as they enter and circle the brazier around their heads seven times as in the Parsi achu michu custom. Alternatively, some weddings feature the brazier circled over the couple's heads once they are seated, or the person holding the brazier may walk around the couple. For Zoroastrians, the number seven is significant.


Wedding Tray

Someone from the wedding party holding the brazier with espand may greet the groom and bride as they enter and circle the brazier around their heads seven times as in the Parsi achu michu custom. Alternatively, some weddings feature the brazier circled over the couple's heads once they are seated, or the person holding the brazier may walk around the couple. For Zoroastrians, the number seven is significant.


Sofreh Aghd - The Wedding Spread

Sofreh / Spread Sheet

Elements of the Sofreh Aghd
Elements of the Sofreh Aghd from Persian Mirror
Mirror and Gol Ab
Termeh - hand woven woollen fabric
with gold embroidery from Yazd

Customarily, all Zoroastrian religious ceremonies are conducted on a sofreh spread on the floor using simple white linen. Sitting on the floor has other symbolisms for Zoroastrians: it is a mark of humility and it keeps one grounded in more ways than one. Staying in contact with the floor brings a person closer to the earth, literally and figuratively.

The sofreh or sheet is the sacred space on which the marriage ceremony is conducted. Non-Zoroastrian Iranian have taken to calling the ensemble of symbolic items on the sheet as well as the marriage ceremony the sofreh aghd. Traditionally, Yazdi and Parsi do not spread the symbolic items all over the spread. Sine the entire ceremony needs to take place on the sofreh, Parsis and Yazdis place items on trays that are in turn placed on the sofreh. The items placed on the trays or the sofreh carry symbolisms explained below.

The orientation of the spread is such that the couple will sit facing the light of the sun. If the ceremony is conducted at night, the direction is that of the rising sun or east.

Nowadays, the wedding spread sheet is often made of more elaborate fabric than linen, such as gold embroidered soft wool (under hair of mountain goats) cashmere, Atlas or satin, abrisham or silk, and termeh or hand-woven wool from Yazd with intricate designs (the termeh is sometimes placed over a white sheet). These elaborate sofrehs are sometimes handed down from mother to daughter. An underlay of carpet helps keep the sofreh from gathering.


Ayne-Ye Bakht / Mirror

Mirror and Gol Ab
Mirror and rose water jug

One mirror is placed at the head of the sofreh and symbolizes bringing light and brightness into the relationship.


Gol-Ab / Rose Water

The rose petals add to the fragrance in the room.


Sha'am / Candelabras

Two candelabras are placed on either side of the mirror representing the bride and groom. They symbolize fire, light, energy, the path of asha or goodness and wisdom.


Sini-Ye Aatel-O-Baatel / Tray of Spice & Herbs

The tray is placed in the middle of the sofreh and holds the following seven herbs and spices to guard against the evil eye: khash-khaash or poppy seeds to break spells and witchcraft, berenj or wild rice, sabzi khoshk or angelica, namak or salt to blind the evil eye, raziyaneh or nigella seeds, chai or black tea, kondor or frankincense to burn evil spirits.


Naan-e Sangak or Noon-e Sangak / flatbread

The flatbread is sometimes accompanied by panir or feta cheese and fresh herbs. Sometimes the flatbread has the words mobarak bad, or congratulations, written on to the bread with either saffron , cinnamon, nigella seeds, or glitter-sand. The bread and accessories symbolizes plenty and prosperity.


Tokhme Morgh and Ajil / Eggs and Dried Fruit

The ajil includes, pistachios, walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts and the ensemble symbolizes


Anar-o-Sib / Pomegranates and Apples

Pomegranates symbolize good health are and apples symbolize a joyous future.


Nakh / Needle and Thread

A needle and seven strands of coloured thread are part of the sofreh to sow one corner of the ghand cloth. They symbolize the need for naysayers to keep their mouths sewed up. However, in the Yazdi ceremony, the needle and thread are used to sow two ends of a cloth symbolizing the unity of the couple.


Avesta / Zoroastrian Scriptures

The scriptures symbolize following the path of asha or goodness and righteousness.


Sekeh / Coins

The coins, often gold, symbolize wealth and prosperity.


Shirini / Sweets & Pastries

Noghl
Noghl

Placed on a tray, popular items are noghl or sugar-coated almond strips, baklava - a sweet flaked pastry, toot - a mulberry-almond paste, noon-berenji or rice-flour cookies, noon-nokhodchi or chickpea flour cookies, noon-badomi or almond flour cookies, and sohan asali or honey roasted almonds.


Termeh / Cloth

Often a family heirloom, the cloth is made from gold embroidered Persian silk symbolizing family and tradition.


Kaas-e Nabaat or Shaakh-e Nabaat / Rock Sugar

Sugar symbolizes sweetness in the lives and words of the couple.


Kalleh Ghand / Sugar Cones

White Covered Ghand Green Covered Ghand
White & green covered ghand or rock sugar

The two sugar cones will be rubbed together above the couple's heads further symbolizing sweetness and happiness for the couple.


Espand or Esfand / Peganum Harmala Seeds

The esfand is sprinkled on a bed on glowing coals in a brazier called a manghal. The espand keeps away the evil eye.


Marriage Ceremony / Payvand-e-Zanshooi

Two parts of the same fabric are symbolically sewn together with needle and thread in a ceremony suggestive of the ancient tradition when the bride and groom's waist cords, the kushti, were tied and sewn together. This symbolic act of sewing the bride and groom's kushti together unites the couple for the rest of their lives. A knot is tied that should not be broken or separated.

Simultaneously, The two cones of ghand, or rock sugar, are rubbed together.

A tray on which two pieces of the united cloth, thread, scissors, a raw egg, a pomegranate or apple, dried marjoram, and white sweetmeats, all covered by a green kerchief are held over the bride and groom's head by a pair of married female relatives.

Alternatively, a sheet is held over the heads of the couple.

This part of the ceremony is identical to the Parsi marriage ceremony. For a detailed description, please see Payvand-e-Zanshooi on page 4 of the Parsi Wedding Customs. One or two priests perform the religious part of the ceremony with a question asking the room and bride if they agree to the marriage according to the rites and customs of the Zoroastrian religion. After receiving an affirmative reply, the priest read guiding principles for the couple to follow and prayers to bless the marriage.

At the conclusion of the religious ceremony, the couple exchange rings. Unlike plain gold engagement rings, wedding rings - especially the bride's - can be rings with encased stones.

Next, family and guests present the couple gifts.


Wedding Festivities - Jashn-e Aroosi

The marriage ceremony is followed by feasting, music by entertainers and dancing.

In the days following, as with the Yazdi custom described on page 1, the couple attend parties held in their honour, the first of which is called a pogoshi (or paghosah), meaning clearing the path.

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