Zoroastrian Wedding Customs
Indian Zoroastrian (Parsi & Irani)
Page 2. Modern Iranian 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 firstname.lastname@example.org (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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Sofreh Aghd - The Wedding Spread
Sofreh / Spread Sheet
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.
Ayne-Ye Bakht / Mirror
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
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
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.
Wedding Festivities - Jashn-e Aroosi
The marriage ceremony is followed by feasting, music by entertainers and dancing.