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Persian wedding traditions, despite its local and regional variations, like many other rituals in Persia goes back to the ancient Zoroastrian tradition.[citation needed] Though the concepts and theory of the marriage have changed drastically by Islamic traditions, the actual ceremonies have remained more or less the same as they were originally in the ancient Zoroastrian culture. Contents 1 Before the marriage 1.1 Khastegari 1.2 Second Khastegari (suit, court) 1.3 Bale Borun 1.4 Majles and Namzadi (Engagement) 1.5 Shirini Khoran 1.5.1 Khunche 2 The wedding ceremony 2.1 Sofreye Aghd (Wedding Spread) 2.2 Aghd 3 After the wedding 3.1 Patakhti 3.2 Valime (Walima) 4 References Before the marriage Khastegari Khastegarkardan is the step in the traditional Persian system for matching up a couple. When it is time for a young man to get married, his family will look around to identify a number of potential brides. Responsibility of choosing the bride falls on the parents, however, the man might suggest to his family who he would like them to consider. Once the family decide on one particular girl, the Khastagari process, takes place. For this ceremony, one or more representatives of the man’s family pays a visit to the family of the lady whom they have in mind as his potential bride. The first visit is purely for the purpose of investigation. The first Khastagari does not include a formal proposal. Following this visit both sides can begin to think more seriously. The woman or the man also have their say in whether or not they would like a follow up to this visit. Second Khastegari (suit, court) A marriage proposal is made by the suitor and his family. The bride’s family welcomes the party and invites them to sit in the living room. At first, members of the bride’s family talk about the virtues of the girl. Traditionally, modesty is among the characteristics most admired in a girl- also it is important for an Iranian bride to know household skills such as cooking and sewing. After that, the members of the man’s family talk about the man’s merits and achievements. The bride’s family will ask the suitor if he is able to provide accommodation, or if he can afford to support their daughter financially or not. They will also talk about religious commitment and character of both parties. The important part is when the bride’s father says: “Let the tea be served”. Traditionally, the first time that the suitor and his family see the bride should be the time she offers tea and sweet-meals to the guests which is in the second Khastegari. At the end of second Khastegari, the suitor and the woman will be given time to be alone with each other in a room and talk to each other about their ideas and interests. Usually the man and the woman ask each other questions about how their future life will be. Note that, in most modern families the first two Khastegari's are done in one step and the man and the woman already know each other or are the instigators for this ceremony. Also most often, it is followed by the woman and the man taking a few months to a few years to get to know each other and decide whether it is a good idea for them to share the rest of their life together. This stage can be compared to a formal companionship where the families were involved in matching the couple up. Bale Borun Bale Borun is a ceremony which takes place weeks or months after the formal proposal, which means when the result of both families investigations are positive and acceptable and also general primary conditions which have been set during the time of proposal are acceptable by both bride and groom's families. The groom's parents usually give a gift to the bride in "Bale-Barun's" ceremony : According to an ancient document , Groom's family in order to entice acceptance of the bride and her family and definitely receiving the answer "Yes" to their request , they grant some gifts to the bride. The usual gift for this ceremony is one piece of cloth for sewing a gown and also a ring for a bride. But in religious families instead of giving cloth for sewing a gown , they give it for sewing a chador which is mostly white with patterns of small flowers. Majles and Namzadi (Engagement) The Majles takes place at the bride’s home. The bride's and the groom's parents will determine "the gift for love" (or Mehriye) that is to be given to the bride (note that this is opposite of the Indian dowry which is given by the bride to the groom) as well as the date of the wedding. This may be as early as a year before the wedding itself so that arrangements could be made in advance. Often the wedding is held on one convenient weekend so as to accommodate relatives who live far away and to reduce costs. The Namzadi(engagement) in Iran usually includes a reception and a party afterward; during the namzadi ceremony the bride and the groom exchange rings. Shirini Khoran It is tradition to eat Bamieh sweet in the Shirini-Khordan The sharing of refreshments that follows the namzadi ceremony is called shirin khori (eating sweets) including tea and shirini (sweetmeats) such as bamiye (light doughnut balls), nun-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. Khunche 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 tabag. This ceremony is also called tabag-baran. The wedding ceremony Sofreye Aghd (Wedding Spread) There is a very elaborate floor spread set up for Aghd, including several kinds of food and decorations, this is called Sofre-ye-Aghd. Items in the Sofreh include: The Seven Herbs: Khashkhash (poppy seeds), Berenj (rice), Sabzi Khoshk (Angelica), Salt , Raziyane (Nigella seeds), Cha'i (black tea leaves) and Kondor (Frankincense). The Seven Pastries: Noghl, Baklava, Toot (Persian marzipan), Naan-e Bereneji (rice cookies), Naan-e Badami (almond cookies) and Naan-Nokhodchi (chickpea cookie) 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. "Naan-o Paneer-o Sabzi": Bread, 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. Shakh-e-Nabat: 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, Hafez's Divan, or the Shahnameh by Ferdowsi.. Prayer Rug: A prayer rug (Jaa-ye Namaaz) 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. Aghd The contract signing for the wedding is usually done before the ceremony of Aghd so that the ceremony can flow naturally. When the groom signs the marriage contract, he legally agrees to provide the bride with a mehriye. The amount of mehriye is restated during the weddind ceremony. In religious circles the Aghd usually includes some verses of the Quran (followed by reciting a Hadith of Prophet Muhammad about the importance of marriage (only if one or both of the couple are Muslims)). Then the ceremony administer (or marriage officiant) asks the mutual consent of the couple. First the groom is asked if he wishes to enter into the marriage. Then the bride is asked the same question. Here the bride makes the groom wait for her hand in marriage by not answering the question right away. This is usually accompanied by a relative yelling out something (funny) that the bride could have gone to do. The scenario will be like this: The officiant: Do you wish to accept so-and-so as your husband? The bride remains silent, while one of the guests/bridesmaids yells out in the background that "The bride has gone to pick flowers" The officiant: For the second time I ask, will you accept so-and-so as your husband? Again the bride may remain silent and a female relative/bridesmaid will chant: "The bride has gone to bring rose-water." The officiant: For the third time I ask, will you accept so-and-so as your husband? This time the bride says "with the permission of my grandparents and parents, Yes" and they are declared man and wife. From that moment, the man and the woman will be considered married (or mahram in more religious circles). Once the couple is pronounced husband and wife, the officiant asks for God's blessing to be with the couple in their lives together. The bride and groom exchange wedding rings, where they put the rings on each others right ring finger. In religious families the kiss exchange is not done publicly. To seal the deal, each of the bride and the groom dip their pinky finger in honey and feed each other, to symbolize starting the marriage with sweetness and love. At this point the families start clapping and singing and usually the bride and groom start their first dance. Traditionally, the cost of the wedding ceremony is paid by the groom's family and in return the bride's family provides the jahiziye (The bulky furniture and appliances for the couple's new home). However, most modern families share the responsibilities and the costs associated with the wedding ceremony and thereafter. After the wedding Patakhti Traditionally, on Patakhti 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 sitdown dinner. The majority of the night is spent dancing and socializing. It's almost like a bridal shower, but is held after the wedding. Valime (Walima) Valime as the name suggests is a rare custom due to the muslim influence, the wedding is paid by the woman's family and so valime is a party given by the groom's family in return for the wedding ceremony and includes a dinner. The bride and groom arrive together, dine together and receive and see off guests together. This stage is very uncommon and unheard of among most Iranians. 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