“Aghd” or The Persian Wedding Ceremony
The Persian wedding ceremony despite its local and regional variations, like many other rituals in Iran goes back to the ancient Zoroastrian tradition over 2500 years old. Though the concepts and theory of the marriage have changed over time, the actual ceremony has remained more or less as they were originally in the ancient Zoroastrian culture. In modern Iran, the marriage ceremony is more a symbol of their rich ancient culture rather than religion, even though it has been influenced by this last to some extent.
The following items are placed together and constitute what is called “Sofreh-ye Aghd”:
Mirror of fate (“Aayeneh-ye Bakht”) and two Candelabras representing brightness in bride and groom’s future. When the bride enters the room her veil covers her face. Once the bride sits beside the groom she removes her veil and the first thing that he sees in the mirror should be the reflection of his wife-to-be. Decorated flatbread symbolizes prosperity and decorated eggs and walnuts symbolizing fertility. Pomegranates and apples are also placed on the spread for joyous future. Pomegranates are considered heavenly fruits and apples symbolize the divine creation of mankind. A cup of rose water is placed on the spread to perfume the air. A bowl made out of crystallized sugar to sweeten life for newlywed. A brazier holding burning coals sprinkled with wild rue (“Esfand”) popular incense is believed to keep the evil eye away and bring good health. A bowl of gold coins representing wealth and prosperity. A shawl made out of any fine fabric is to be held over the bride and groom’s head throughout the ceremony by happily married female relatives and friends. Two sugar cones (“Kalleh Ghand”) are then ground together above the bride and groom’s head throughout the ceremony to shower them in sugar, symbolizing sweetness and happiness. A cup of honey to sweeten their life and immediately after the couple is married they each should dip one pinky finger in the cup of honey and feed each other. A copy of Koran (“Ghoraan-e Majid”) opened in the middle symbolizes God’s blessing for the couple.
Usually, an authorized person or person with recognized authority performs the ceremony. The ceremony consists of blessings, questions to the witnesses, parents, and the marrying couple. The wedding officiant (“Aghed”) asks the mutual consent of the couple. First, the groom is asked if he wishes to enter into the marriage contract, then the bride is asked the same question. Once the bride is asked if she agrees to the marriage, she pauses. The question is repeated three times and it is only at the third time that she will say yes. To make the groom wait for the bride’s answer is to signify that it is the husband who seeks the wife and is eager to have her and not the other way around. Once the bride has said yes to the question, the wedding officiant pronounces the couple husband and wife and asks for God’s blessing to be with the couple in their lives together. After the wedding ceremony while the couple is still seated they are showered with gifts.