Engagements & Weddings
Engagements and weddings are elaborate and many of the celebrations vary between the different ethnic groups. They also vary from city to village. Any engagement or wedding is an occasion for a large party.
Engagements are called shirnee khoree, which literally means sweet eating. Traditionally the family of the groom bring sweets, goash-e-feel, presents, clothes, jewellery and other gifts for the bride’s family. The bride’s family in return prepares and organises the food and the party to celebrate the occasion. Large numbers of guests, depending on the social standing and financial circumstances of the bride’s family are invited. Special kitchens are often set up in order to cope with the preparation of vast amounts of food; pilau, qorma, ashak, boulanee and many varieties of desserts; firni, shola, jellies, pastries and of course lots of fruit. The tea qymaq chai is usually served.
Weddings take place in two stages: nikah, the religious ceremony when the marriage contract is actually signed, takes place first and is followed by arusi, which is a combination of wedding party and further ceremony.
At the second stage of the wedding the guests are first served with food while the bride is preparing herself in a separate room. A wide assortment of rich dishes similar to those at an engagement are served. The arusi ceremony usually takes place quite late in the evening and after the inevitable tea.
The bride and bridegroom are then brought together for the first time (the bride was not present at the religious ceremony – her signing of the contract was done by proxy). The groom sits on a raised platform called takht (throne) and the bride approaches, heavily veiled with female relatives holding the Qor’an (Koran) over her head. The bride joins the groom and a mirror is placed before them. Several ceremonies then take place involving the tasting of sharbat (sherbet) and molida, a flour-based, powdery sweet. Henna is painted on the couple’s hands or fingers. Sugared almonds (noql) symbolising fruitfulness and prosperity and other sweets, symbolising happiness, are then showered over the newly-weds, rather like the western tradition of throwing confetti.