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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. Pre-Wedding Festivities


» Page 1: Overview & Engagement

» Page 3: Wedding Day Pre-Wedding Ceremonies

» Page 4: Marriage Ceremony & Reception



Madhavsaro / Madar Srava. Tree Planting Ceremony

Commonly called the Madhavsaro (or Madarsaro), this tree-planting ceremony marks the start of a wedding's preparatory celebrations and takes place four days before the wedding. During the ceremony, the families of the bride and the groom independently plant a young tree at their respective family homes. Darius Irani informs us that the name of the ceremony is correctly 'Madar Srava', madar meaning mother and srava meaning conscience. Together, the words invoke the blessings of the gathering for an early fruition of the marriage in motherhood. During the ceremony, the family priest is often in attendance and blesses the sapling. In India the sapling is a mango tree, an Indian symbol of fertility, growth and abundance, while in non-tropical climates it is any tree that bears abundant fruit. In the photographs below, the family used an apple tree.

The planting is done by a male member of the household or family (a brothers or cousin), who ties an Indian-Rajput style turban around his head.

White and red are preferred colours in Zoroastrian ceremonies, and during the madhavsaro, the preferred colour of clothes by those taking part in the ceremony is red.


Preparing to officiate the madhavsaro. Groom's mother places a tila
1. Preparing to officiate the madhavsaro
Groom's mother places a tila
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA
Preparing to officiate the madhavsaro. Groom's mother presses rice on tila
2. Preparing to officiate the madhavsaro
Groom's mother presses rice on tila
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA
Bride's mother ties turban on son
3. Preparing to officiate the madhavsaro
Bride's mother ties turban on son
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA
Bride's brother with turban ready to officiate madhavsaro
4. Bride's brother with turban
ready to officiate the madhavsaro
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA

The rim of the pot is decorated with painted designs. In addition, a square with a cross in the centre is painted with turmeric and red kunkun paste on the side of the pot. The decorated pot is placed on a rangoli or chalk design at the entrances of the bride and groom's homes.


Decorating the flower pot
1. Preparing to plant the sapling
Decorating the flower pot
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA
Cracking the coconut
2. Preparing to plant the sapling
Cracking the coconut
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA

When the pot is ready to receive the sapling, a coconut is circled around the plant seven times and smashed on the ground beside the plant, in a manner identical to that when performing the achu michu ritual. The cracked coconut is set aside for use as described in the next paragraph.


Preparing to plant the sapling Placing an egg in the pot
3. Preparing to plant the sapling
Placing an egg in the pot
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA
Planting the sapling an apple tree
Planting the sapling
An apple tree
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA

The soil is prepared according to the custom of the family and can include the admixing of precious metals (say gold and silver) flakes, a paan (betel/piper) leaf, supari (betel nut), haldi (turmeric), the cracked coconut, egg and kharak (dry dates). In another method, a hole is made in the potted soil and yoghurt, rice and wheat grains are placed in the cavity before the sapling is transplanted. In yet another method, a plate containing the cracked coconut, yoghurt, sugar, betel nut, kharak (dried dates), and coins are placed on the bottom of the pot. The soil can also be moistened with milk and water.


Decorated leaves of the sapling
Decorated leaves of the sapling
Photo: Mark Fitch, Bethesda, MD, USA

The sapling is decorated in different ways. For example, a garland can be placed over the sapling, or handkerchief containing some gold and silver can be tied to a branch.

The sapling is blessed with the recitation of prayers by the family priest. The plant is watered every morning till the eighth day after the wedding when it is transplanted to a place chosen by the couple.

The madhavsaro is frequently accompanied by a jashan.


Varadh-Patra / Remembrance

In as much as the madhavsaro celebrates youth and the expectation of a full and fruitful life ahead, Zoroastrians are ever mindful that they carry within them a spiritual flame, the mainyu athra, passed down to them by their ancestors, and that the intended union of the couple will enable them to pass on the flame to subsequent generations. While the next three days are filled with joyous preparatory celebrations, they are also dedicated to the remembrance of family members who have passed before them. Included in the prayers offered at the ceremonies during the three days prior to the wedding, are prayers that name and memorialize both families' ancestors.


Adarni / Bridal Shower

The adarni takes place three days before the wedding and is the occasion when the the groom's family visits the bride's home (the bride may alternatively go over to the groom's family home) to present her with additional gifts such as clothes and jewellery (as in the adravanu). After the giving of gifts the party shares festive food dishes such as sev (vermicelli) and dahi (yoghurt), boiled eggs and bananas.


Supra nu Murat

The supra nu murat ceremony is a ceremony to make and apply turmeric paste on the couple the day before the wedding. It is not a commonly used ceremony.

During this ceremony, four married women sit in a square with a fifth sitting in the middle. The group of four are each given a supra, a bundle containing paan, supari, haldi, dates and a piece of coconut. The woman in the middle has a mortar and pestle, called a khalbatto, containing turmeric seeds and milk. The ceremony starts with the women singing and exchanging the supra bundles seven times cross-wise, length-wise and breadth-wise. After the four women have finished passing the supra bundles, they join hands with the woman in the centre and together pound the turmeric and milk mixture. The resulting paste is applied by the five to the groom and bride accompanied by words wishing them well and blessing the coming union.

This ceremony may or may not be related to henna ceremony (called hana in Persian) that has been practiced by the Zoroastrians of Yazd, Iran, since ancient times. Some feel that the ceremony is an adaptation of the mehndi (also spelt mendi or mendhi) ceremony popular amongst the Hindus and Muslims of India.

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» Page 1: Overview & Organization
» Page 3: Wedding Day Pre-Wedding Ceremonies
» Page 4: Marriage Ceremony & Reception


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