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Monday, 13 January 2014 11:36

Iranian Marriage Ceremony, Its History & Symbolism (Part 1)

Iranian Marriage Ceremony, Its History & Symbolism (Part 1)

The Iranian wedding ceremony despite its local and regional variations, like many other rituals in the country goes back to the ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Though the concepts and theory of the marriage have changed drastically by Quran and Islamic traditions, the actual ceremonies have remained more or less the same.


According to Iran Chamber Website, For Iranians marriage is an event, which must be celebrated not quietly but with glory and distinction. It is the most conspicuous of all the occasions and is celebrated in the presence of a fairly large assembly. In the past the parents and older members of the family arranged almost all marriages. This is still the case in rural areas and with traditional families. Modern couples however, choose their own mate but their parents’ consent is still very important and is considered by both sides. Even with modern Iranians, after the couple have decided themselves, it is normally the grooms’ parents or other relatives who take the initiative and formally ask for the bride and her family’s consent. Once this is done then the marriage will be announced. In the ancient times, the musicians playing at marriage gatherings used drums to announce the marriage to the people of the town or village. The group that gathered for the marriage was called the assembly for the queenly bride. Traditionally, both the bride and the bridegroom dressed in white with garlands of flower on their necks. The color white is a symbol of purity, innocence and faithfulness. Today most modern Iranians follow the European dress code and style. 

Once the groom and his family express their desire for the union, they go to the brides’ home with flowers, sweets and sometimes-gold coins or jewelry and ask for her hand. If accepted more presents will follow. The couple becomes engaged in a reasonably lavish party. Rings are exchanged; the engagement rings are simple, mainly gold with no stones. While the wedding ring presented to the bride will be lavish expensive with precious stones. The engagement ring is sent to the bride’s house with female relatives of the groom. A few days before the actual ceremony again more presents are taken to the bride’s house. Men dressed up in festive costumes would carry the presents in elaborately decorated large flat containers on their heads. The container is called Tabagh and the whole thing with the presents is called Khoncheh. Many of these customs are still followed by the more traditional families and in the provinces. The modern Iranians normally by pass some stages like sending the ring through relatives and outside Iran Tabagh and Khoncheh are hardly used. However ceremonial objects are still present. 

Mirror and candelabras are amongst the most important ceremonial objects that are taken to the brides’ home and they are reminiscence of the Zoroastrian religious believes. Grooms’ family is expected to pay for all expenses and if they cannot, they will be looked down at. The higher the status and social standing of the bride, the more lavish will be the banquets and the presents, especially the jewelry. An elaborate wedding in Iran presently costs around a hundred thousand dollars. There are efforts by the government to encourage people to simplify the weddings and lower the cost. Mass communal weddings sponsored and paid by the government have become increasingly popular. In February 2001, fourteen thousand couples married all across Iran in this manner. 


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