Honoring Tradition, and Personal Choice, With a Persian Wedding Custom

Honoring Tradition, and Personal Choice, With a Persian Wedding Custom

Weddings are steeped in custom, however the place do these rituals come from? “Traditions,” a brand new column, explores the origins of varied marriage ceremony customs from around the globe.

Ever since Mandana Ansari was somewhat lady, she knew she needed to acknowledge her Iranian heritage by having a “Sofreh Aghd” on her marriage ceremony day. “I’ve all the time beloved the symbolism and the which means of the Sofreh — new life, new beginnings, fertility,” Ms. Ansari stated. “My tradition is such an enormous a part of who I’m.”

The literal which means of “Sofreh” is “conventional unfold,” stated Mitra Ghahramani, the inventive director and founding father of Designs by Mitra, an occasion and marriage ceremony planning firm that makes a speciality of Sofreh Aghd designs and multicultural ceremonies. The phrase “Aghd,” Ms. Ghahramani added, means “to attach, to tie collectively,” like a knot.

Mitra Ghahramani, who immigrated to the United States 26 years in the past, comes from three generations of inventive designers from Iran. At Designs by Mitra, she stated, she is ready to “actively interact with my heritage and contribute to preserving and selling Persian traditions” that may be handed on to future generations.

Traditionally, Ms. Ghahramani stated, the Sofreh Aghd refers to a big, white tablecloth that’s positioned on the ground to type a sacred house for the union. It is commonly adorned with elaborate linens that includes gold, silver, lace and silk elaborations.

“Sofreh Aghd refers back to the conventional Persian marriage ceremony ceremony the place the authorized marriage usually takes place,” she stated. “The couple sit in entrance of the Sofreh adorned with symbolic objects that are supposed to bless the newlywed couple.”

The ritual usually includes a bride and groom seated on the head of the Sofreh Aghd, a ceremonial desk coated with objects which have symbolic meanings, surrounded by household and pals.

The couple usually face a big mirror and two lit candelabras, which signify their hopes for a promising future collectively. “The mirror is reflective of sunshine and readability of thoughts, and the hearth symbolizes purity and vitality representing a vibrant future for the newlyweds,” Ms. Ghahramani stated. “During the ceremony, the newlyweds ought to see one another’s faces within the reflection of the mirror to make sure a vibrant future forward.”

The unfold contains a plethora of symbolic objects, similar to honey and fruits, like pomegranates and apples, for a joyous future; nuts and gold cash for abundance; eggs to represent fertility; spices to keep off evil and to signify the spice of life; a needle and thread to indicate two households turning into one; and a sacred guide for religion, hope and God’s safety.

The origins of the Sofreh Aghd are unclear, however specialists have some theories.

It “in all probability has Zoroastrian roots, however we solely have descriptions of the ceremony beginning within the nineteenth century,” stated Willem Floor, the creator of “Sofreh: The Art of Persian Celebration” and a Dutch historian who research Persian tradition. “It is sort of probably that this custom underwent modifications since its inception in addition to had regional variants.”

While Iranian weddings fluctuate by ethnicity, tradition and faith, some {couples} embody Sofreh Aghds of their nuptials on the request of their dad and mom, whereas others achieve this as a result of they want to join with their heritage. For companions who come from completely different backgrounds, “there’s a robust want to share their tradition and heritage with one another and their family members,” Ms. Ghahramani stated.

As a Persian girl born in France and raised in San Francisco, Ms. Ansari, 38, knew she didn’t desire a typical Sofreh Aghd. “I needed to personalize it,” stated Ms. Ansari. “A pastel, midcentury fashionable take — our ceremony was very a lot a hybrid of Western and Persian cultures.”

Ms. Ansari is a full-time content material creator; the founding father of Modern Girl Media, a advertising and marketing company, and a founding member of the Iranian Diaspora collective, a nonprofit devoted to amplifying the voices of Iranians.

On May 26, 2022, she married Brian Jensen on the New York City Clerk’s Office. Mr. Jensen, 38, is a local New Yorker and an Emmy-nominated filmmaker who labored on the HBO documentary “Welcome to Chechnya.”

The courthouse marriage ceremony was only a warm-up to honor the couple’s love affair with New York City. The most important celebration happened in Cancún, Mexico, on June 26, 2022. That was when Ms. Ansari lastly had the Sofreh Aghd she had lengthy dreamed of.

She selected items for the unfold that have been designed by feminine artists, together with a feathered mirror made in Spain. And as an alternative of a Quran or Bible, she displayed a classic guide from 1786 full of French love poems, together with works by the Persian poets Rumi and Hafez.

“Since I’m Persian however was born in France, this felt most genuine,” Ms. Ansari stated. “It’s our love and our union, so I need it to signify us.”

Sofreh Aghds usually embody a number of different marriage ceremony rituals like the Sugar Veil blessing ceremony, throughout which a lace fabric is draped over the bride and groom’s heads and two giant sugar cones are slowly rubbed collectively, making a haze of sugar mud to represent “sweetening” the couple’s life collectively. Married girls normally conduct the ritual, however Ms. Ansari selected girls she admired — together with single girls — as an alternative.

“Tradition is that solely girls who’re fortunately married can grind sugar over the newlyweds’ heads, in order to bless them with the knowledge and the fortune that they’ve gathered over time,” Ms. Ghahramani stated. “But an increasing number of, I see fashionable twists to this custom.”

Ultimately, the Sofreh Aghd ought to domesticate a supportive, harmonious ambiance for the couple, Ms. Ghahramani stated. “All parts of a Persian marriage ceremony ceremony are designed to foster an environment of affection, gentle, sweetness and happiness aiming to encompass the couple with constructive vitality as they embark on their journey collectively,” she stated. “That, to me, is the magic of this ceremony.”



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