A ceremony that takes place shortly after the formal proposal & publicly announcing the couple's intention to form a union. At this stage, the couple are happy with each other and, traditionally, both their families have agreed to the union and any conditions surrounding the marriage.
The groom's parents usually give a gift to the bride at this ceremony. According to an ancient Zoroastrian practice, this is done by the groom's family in order to persuade the bride to accept the proposal. The traditional gift is a ring.
The Majless takes place at the woman’s family home. The man and woman, alongside their families, will determine "the gift of love", known as the Mehriye, as well as the date of the wedding. This may be held as early as a year before the wedding itself, in order to allow time for all the wedding arrangements to be made.
The Persian engagement ceremony, known as the Namzadi, involves the bride and groom exchanging rings, followed by a reception and/or party.
The sharing of refreshments that follows the namzadi ceremony is called shirini khordan (eating sweets) including tea and shirini (desserts) 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.
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. Although this tradition might be practice in small towns, however, Tabag Baran is not a common practice. More modern means of transportation is used deliver the gifts to the bride.
There is a very elaborate floor spread set up for Aghd, including several kinds of food and decorations, this is called Sofre-ye-Aghd.
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.
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 (Dowry). The amount of mehriye is restated during the wedding 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). In the more modern ceremonies, the officiant is not of religious background and would recite romantic poems from Saadi, Hafez or Rumi.
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.
Once the couple is pronounced husband and wife, the officiant will ask for God to bless the union. The bride and groom exchange wedding rings, where they put the rings on each other's left ring finger. In religious families the kiss exchange is not done publicly. Finally, the bride and groom dip their little finger in honey and put it in each other's mouths, to symbolize starting the marriage with sweetness and love. At this point, the families start clapping and singing, and the closer members of the family, mostly immediate, extended family members and close friends, will present their gifts to the bride and the groom, mostly gold coins, jewelry and cash.
Traditionally, the cost of the wedding ceremony is paid by the groom's family, and in return the bride's family provide the 'jahaz' (the furniture and household appliances for the couple's new life together). However, most modern families share the responsibilities and the costs associated with the wedding ceremonies.
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.
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