Iranian Weddings - Sofreh Aghd

Sofreh Aghd

The main reason for my trip to Germany was the wedding of my cousin and a large family reunion that included relatives that flew in from Iran, Austria, Hungary, the USA and other parts of Germany.

I took a lot of photos of the Iranian ceremony, but was too busy dancing the night away at the party after wards. Needless to say, the wedding was wonderful and it was a pleasure to reconnect with everyone once again.

SugarApple

Since I really do not know all the symbolism behind the Iranian ceremony, I figured I look it up and share it.

As with many other Iranian traditions, the wedding vows are taken in front of the sofreh aghd in the presence of family and friends. The sofreh aghd is a decorated spread on which items are placed that each have symbolic meanings.

Perhaps the most significant items on the sofreh aghd is a large central mirror, placed directly in front of where the bride and groom sit, before taking their vows. It should be sufficiently large so that the bride and groom can see both of themselves in it. It also allows for all the gathered guests (witnesses) especially those standing behind the bride and groom to also see each other in the mirror. Aside from its practicality, the mirror represents the bright light that shines into one’s future.

The mirror is flanked by two candelabras. Candles and mirrors, which are also used in the sofreh haft seen (Persian new year celebration) have are symbolism of the Zoroastrian faith. The sun was the source of all energy and candles represent the sun and its energy.

Bread

A tray of bread also adorns the sofreh representing prosperity. Traditionally, a flat bread called Non-e-sangak has been used and can be decorated in many ways. Representing fertility are walnuts, almonds, and or hazelnuts. These are usually painted in gold or silver colors.

Sofreh Aghd2

The sweetness of life is represented in many items including, a bowl of crystallized sugar or “kaseh nabat”, a small bowl of honey, and in one or more trays of assorted Persian sweets and pastry such as Baghlava, Toot, raisin cookies, and others.

Sugar Cones and Gift Pouch

Additionally, behind the bride and groom, family and friends gather and hold a long scarf made of fine fabric or silk over the heads of the bride and groom. Then the guests take turns rubbing two large pieces of rock sugar (Kale-ghand) over the scarf. On a personal note, I was told that it is not advisable for widows or divorcees to rub the sugar, since this might bring bad luck to the newly weds. The embroidered gift pouch, is something that was new too me as well. It is very common to bestow the couple with jewelery, which is presented by calling out the gift givers name and item. These in turn are pulled out of this pouch.

Termeh is a traditional Persian embroidered cloth, generally having the paisley design. It is used to decorate the sofreh aghd and symbolizes tradition.

Persian Design

A tray of esphand or espand (wild rue), which can be decorated in many different shapes and colors. Esphand is traditionally used to keep away the “evil eye.” At the time that the bride and groom enter the house or place where the wedding ceremony is being held, a pinch of esphand is placed on burning or hot coal to ward off evil and bad eyes. Burning esphand is similar to incense and had a wonderful smell.

A small bowl of coins are also placed on the sofreh representing wealth, a tray of fresh assorted traditional herbs, and a small bowl of apples. Source Sofreh

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