Archive for the ‘Multiculutral Weddings’ Category


The Persian wedding ceremony despite its local and regional variations, like many other rituals in Iran goes back to the ancient Zoroastrian tradition. Zoroastrianism was the religion of Parsi nation (Persians) before the introduction of Islam to the country, 1400 years before present. Zoroastrians believe in a single god, an all-wise creator who is supreme “Ahura Mazda” also known as Ormuzd, and they are dedicated to a three-fold path, as shown in their motto: “Good thoughts, Good words, Good deeds”. Though the concepts and theory of the marriage have changed drastically by Islamic traditions and Koran, the actual ceremonies have remained more or less the same as they were originally in the ancient Zoroastrian culture. In modern Iran the marriage ceremony is more a symbol of their rich ancient culture than religion, even though it has been influenced by religion to some extent.

For Iranians marriage is considered to be an event, which must be celebrated not quietly but with glory and distinction. It is the most conspicuous of all the rituals and must be celebrated in the presence of an assembly, which can bear witness to the event.

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 “Anjoman” for the queenly bride.

Traditionally, both the bride and the bridegroom would dress in white with wreaths of flower on their necks, something similar to the Hawaiian Lei. These wreaths of flower are still worn in modern wedding ceremonies in Pakistan (which used to be part of the great Persian Empire), but it is eliminated from the Iranian wedding ceremony. The color white is a symbol of purity, innocence and faithfulness. Today most modern Iranian couples follow the western dress code and style.

There are two stages to a Persian marriage. Most often both take place on the same day, but occasionally there could be some time between the two. The first is called “Aghd”, the legal process of getting married, when both the bride and bridegroom and their guardians sign a marriage contract. The second stage is “Jashn-e Aroosi”, the actual feasts and the celebrations, which traditionally lasted from 3 to 7 days.

The ceremony takes place in a specially decorated room with flowers and a beautiful and elaborately decorated spread on the floor called “Sofreh-ye Aghd”. Traditionally Sofreh-ye Aghd is set on the floor facing east, the direction of sunrise (light). Consequently when bride and bridegroom are seated at the head of Sofreh-ye Aghd they will be facing “The Light”.

By custom Aghd would normally take place at bride’s parents/guardians home. The arrival of the guests, who are to be witnesses to the marriage of the couple, initiates the wedding ceremony. Traditionally the couples’ guardians and other elder close family members are present in the room to greet the guests and guide them to their seats. After all the guests are seated the bridegroom is the first to take his seat in the room at the head of Sofreh-ye Aghd. The bride comes afterwards and joins the bridegroom at the head of Sofreh-ye Aghd. The bridegroom always sits on the right hand side of the bride. In Zoroastrian culture the right side designates a place of respect.

The spread that is used on the floor as the backdrop for Sofreh-ye Aghd was traditionally passed from mother to daughter (or occasionally son). The spread is made of a luxurious fabric such as “Termeh” (Cashmere: A rich gold embroidered fabric originally made in Cashmere from the soft wool found beneath the hair of the goats of Cashmere, Tibet, and the Himalayas), “Atlas” (Gold embroidered satin) or “Abrisham” (Silk).

On Sofreh-ye Aghd, the following items are placed:

  • Mirror (of fate) “Aayeneh-ye Bakht” and two Candelabras (representing the bride and groom and brightness in their future) one on either side of the mirror. The mirror and two candelabras are symbols of light and fire, two very important elements in the Zoroastrian culture. When the bride enters the room she has her veil covering her face. Once the bride sits beside the bridegroom she removes her veil and the first thing that the bridegroom sees in the mirror should be the reflection of his wife-to-be.
  • A tray of seven multi-colored herbs and spices “Sini-ye Aatel-O-Baatel” to guard the couple and their lives together against the evil eye, witchcraft and to drive away evil spirits. This tray consists of seven elements in seven colors:
    1. Poppy Seeds “Khash-Khaash” (to break spells and witchcraft)
    2. Wild Rice “Berenj”
    3. Angelica “Sabzi Khoshk”
    4. Salt “Namak” (to blind the evil eye)
    5. Nigella Seeds “Raziyaneh”
    6. Black Tea “Chaay”
    7. Frankincense “Kondor” (to burn the evil spirits)
  • A specially baked and decorated flatbread “Noon-e Sangak” with blessing “Mobaarak-Baad” written in calligraphy on it. The writing is usually with either saffron “Zaffaron”, cinnamon, Nigella seeds, or glitters. This symbolizes prosperity for the feasts and for the couple’s life thereafter. A separate platter of this flat bread, feta cheese and fresh herbs are also present to be shared with the guests after the ceremony, to bring the new couple happiness and prosperity.
  • A basket of decorated eggs and a basket of decorated almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts in the shell to symbolize fertility.
  • A basket of pomegranates and/or apples for a joyous future. Pomegranates are considered heavenly fruits and apples symbolize the divine creation of mankind.
  • A cup of rose water extracted from special Persian roses “Gol-e Mohammadi” to perfume the air.
  • A bowl made out of crystallized sugar “Kaas-e Nabaat/Shaakh-e Nabaat” to sweeten life for the newly wed.
  • A brazier “Manghal” holding burning coals sprinkled with wild rue “Espand” a popular incense. Wild rue is used in many Zoroastrian ceremonies, rituals and purification rites. It is believed to keep the evil eye away and bring on plenty of health.
  • A bowl of gold coins representing wealth and prosperity.
  • A scarf or shawl made out of silk or any other fine fabric to be held over the bride and bridegroom’s head throughout the ceremony by various happily married female relatives (mostly bride’s close family members).
  • Two sugar cones “Kalleh Ghand” made out of hardened sugar to be used during the ceremony. These sugar cones are grinded together above the bride and bridegroom’s head (over the scarf held above their heads) throughout the ceremony to shower them in sugar (symbolizing sweetness and happiness).
  • A cup of honey to sweeten life. Immediately after the couple is married they each should dip one pinky finger in the cup of honey and feed it to the other one.
  • A needle and seven strands of colored thread to figuratively sew up the mother-in-law’s lips from speaking unpleasant words to the bride! The shawl that is held above the couple’s head throughout the ceremony is sewed in one corner by the needle and threads.
  • A copy of Koran “Ghoraan-e Majid” (the Moslem’s holy book) opened in the middle and placed on the spread. This symbolizes God’s blessing for the couple. Traditionally “Avesta” the ancient Zoroastrian holy book was present during the ceremony and readings were made from it. Eventually Koran replaced Avesta after Iran became a Moslem nation.
  • A prayer carpet/kit “Jaa-Namaaz” spread open in the center of Sofreh-ye Aghd to remind the couple of importance of prayer both at blissful times and times of hardship. This prayer kit includes a small rug “Sajjaadeh” to be spread on the floor at the time of prayer, a small cube of molded clay with prayers written on it “Mohr” and a strand of prayer beads “Tasbih”.
  • An assortment of sweets and pastries to be shared with the guests after the ceremony. The assortment usually includes: Sugar coated almond strips “Noghl”, Baklava (a sweet flaky Persian pastry “Baaghlavaa”), Mulberry-almond paste made in the shape of mulberries “Tout”, Rice-flour cookies “Noon-Berenji”, Chickpea-flour cookies “Noon-Nokhodchi”, Almond-flour cookies “Noon-Baadoomi”, and Honey roasted almonds “Sohaan A’sali”.

When the bride and bridegroom are both seated the marriage ceremony begins. Usually the Moslem priest “Mullah” or other males with recognized authority such as a notary public will be the master of ceremony and perform the legal part of the ceremony. The bride and the bridegroom have each a marriage witness. Usually older and married males are chosen amongst close relations to stand as witnesses. The ceremony consists of preliminary blessings, questions to the witnesses, guardians and the marrying couple. Finally the ceremony is solemnized by giving some prayers for the newly wed couple and signing of a legal marriage contract.

After the preliminary blessings and a few words about the importance of the institution of marriage, the master of ceremony confirms with both the parents or guardians that they indeed wish to proceed with the ceremony and there are no objections. Then the master of ceremony asks the mutual consent of the couple. First the bridegroom 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 bridegroom 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!

During the reading of the marriage contract, all the unmarried ladies are asked to leave the room. There exists the belief that a girl should only hear the marriage ceremony’s readings for her own marriage or her chances for marriage might be ill-fated! Nowadays the single ladies do not seem to be too worried about finding a husband and getting married, because most of them stay in the room to witness the ceremony.

During the service married female relatives of the couple (mainly the bride) hold over the couple’s head the fine scarf. Two different actions take place at the same time. Two pieces of crystallized sugar shaped like cones are rubbed together, a symbolic act to sweeten the couple’s life. In the second act two parts of the same fabric are sewn together with needle and thread to symbolize sewing mother-in-law’s lips together. The ceremony is reminiscent of the ancient traditions.

Once the bride has said yes to the proposal, the master of the ceremony pronounces the couple husband and wife and asks for God’s blessing to be with the couple in their lives together. The bride and bridegroom place the wedding bands on each other’s hands and feed each other honey. Afterwards the couple, their guardians, witnesses and master of ceremony sign the documents.

Traditionally after the ceremony while the bride and groom are still seated the bride is showered with gifts, usually expensive jewelry, and all she receives is hers. The bridegroom does not receive many gifts. He only receives one gift from the bride’s parents/guardians. When all the gifts are presented to the bride the wedding ceremony is officially concluded. Generally after the ceremony the bride and bridegroom and the guests move to the location of the wedding celebration party “Aroosi” and celebrate the occasion by playing laud cheerful music, dancing and consuming some lavishly prepared food.

The celebration includes a lavish meal, sometimes with a whole roast lamb as the centerpiece. Jeweled rice “Morrasah Polo” or sweet rice “Shirin Polo” is always served along with many other dishes and an elaborate wedding cake. The celebration, with so much feasting, singing, and dancing, is a day for all to remember. After the guests have gone home, it is customary to give the remaining pastries to those who were unable to come and to those who helped make the day a success. The sugar cones are kept by the bride for good luck.

Before they enter their home, the bride kicks over a bowl of water placed in the doorway. The water spilled on the threshold represents enlightenment, happiness, and purification for their new house. A friendly competition starts with the bride and groom as the bride tries to enter her house while stepping on her husband’s feet. This act makes the bride the boss in the household.

In recent years, the Persian communities abroad have changed and adopted the life-styles of their host countries. The Persian marriage ceremony, however, is so old and can be such a beautiful ceremony that it would be a shame not to enact it.

Source: http://jorge.paulodesigns.com

There are numerous fascinating wedding customs enjoyed in cultures around the world. Many cross-cultural similarities can be seen, as marriage traditions frequently symbolize fertility, good health, good luck or beginning a new life. Here are a few interesting customs:

In Greece, brides might carry a lump of sugar on their wedding day, symbolizing a sweet life, or ivy, representing endless love.

In Norway, friends of a couple plant palm trees on both sides of the front door of the couple’s home as a symbol of fertility.

A South African tradition has the parents of the bride and groom carry fire from their homes to the fireplace in the couple’s home, signaling the beginning of their life together.
It’s considered good luck for Venezuelan newlyweds to sneak away from their wedding reception without saying goodbye.

In Fiji, the groom is expected to give the bride’s father a whale tooth.

Source: http://www.worldweddingtraditions.com/

Campers learn Jewish tradition

Jul 3, 2008 Author: John | Filed under: In the News, Multiculutral Weddings

of the Journal Star
Posted Jul 03, 2008 @ 09:35 PM

PEORIA —

The groom was 10, the bride was 9 and the rabbi wore shorts.

A few dozen young people took part Thursday in a mock Jewish wedding at Camp Gan Izzy, a Jewish day camp run by Lubavitch Chabad of Peoria at Peoria Academy.

The three-week camp is held annually as a way to impart Jewish values, teach Jewish traditions and have some fun. Each day has its own theme. Thursday’s revolved around a traditional Jewish wedding.

The mock ceremony followed the outline of a real Jewish wedding, which the campers got to see in the form of a video of Rabbi Eli Langsam’s nuptials. Some of the details differed, however.

For example, the blessings to be imparted over the groom took the form of popular children’s songs, such as “Old MacDonald,” and Camp Gan Izzy chants, like “I’m a Jew and I’m proud and I’ll sing it aloud, that’s what forever I’ll be!”

The huppah, or canopy, held over the heads of the couple was made from plastic table covers instead of a prayer shawl and hoisted on sticks rather than poles.

And the glass cup broken at the end of the ceremony to shouts of “Mazel tov!”? Paper, not plastic.

But the sense of joy at a Jewish wedding that Langsam wanted to impart in the demonstration was authentic.

“There’s a lot of dancing,” the rabbi said.

The celebrants gathered into separate circles of boys and girls, joined arms and danced around to the disco-ish music, sometimes spinning off into silliness before being reined back in by one of the seven counselors.

Finally the group gathered around a chair, first hoisting the bride, Samantha Savage, and then the groom, Joshua Eckhart.

Throughout the dancing the kids stole back to tables to nibble on the wedding feast of popcorn, pretzels and Twizzlers.

Adam Raso, who was the groom in last year’s demonstration, presided over the ceremony as the rabbi this year, complete with a black hat and rubbed-on beard. Before the wedding, he walked around with two notebook sheets filled with facts about Jewish weddings that he would recite later.

“The bride always has to cover her head,” he told one observer.

“Everybody wish mazel tov to the bride and groom, who’s sitting over there,” said Rivkie Shuchat of Toronto, one of the camp counselors, before she ran over to Eckhart with mock tears of joy, screeching, “Oh, I can’t believe it!”

After the dancing subsided, a few skits and songs were performed as the celebration wound down, but not before a final blessing was sung.

Mindy Eckhart arrived in time to see the last part before picking up her son, the groom.

“The camp is fabulous,” she said. “He just loves it. They make it fun, enjoyable. It’s like the kids don’t know they’re learning, but they are.”

The camp, the name of which stands for Garden of Israel, continues the next two weeks.

Michael Miller can be reached at 686-3106 or mmiller@pjstar.com.
Source: http://www.pjstar.com/failth/x1816439378/Campers-learn-Jewish-tradition

Planning your weddingSit down together to determine a wedding date priority list. You both may want to include your families in this conversation, especially if they live out of town. Here are several important things to consider when choosing a date:

The honeymoon: Consider the type of honeymoon you both want. For instance, if you are both sun-worshipers, don’t plan a wedding date when your favorite island is experiencing monsoon season.

Work schedules: You both may have work periods when you can’t take time off. Select a date when your lives are least demanding.

Holidays and family occasions: Some couples go out of their way to schedule a wedding over a three-day weekend, so everyone has more time together. This idea works best if you send invitations at least eight weeks in advance; otherwise, people might already have plans.

The bride’s menstrual cycle: The bride wants to look and feel her best on her wedding day. If she suffers unpredictable cycles, a quick chat with her gynecologist may bring up solutions.

Day of the week: Saturdays are generally the preferred wedding day. That way, out-of-town guests can easily stay overnight. Weekday dates result in many regrets.

Alternate dates: If possible, have a first-choice date and at least one backup date.
Once the couple decides on a date, the real fun can begin! Work backward from the chosen date to determine a timetable of what needs to be done when. Some tasks, such as mailing invitations and picking up the rings, obviously can’t be checked off until two months before the Big Day. On the other hand, you both want to take care of other items — booking a florist and reception site, for example — at least a year in advance.

Click here for a timetable to organize your timelines for your wedding.

Africa is a large and varied continent containing some of the oldest civilizations on earth. It is home to a wide diversity of religions and cultures, and this colorful diversity is reflected in its diverse and colorful weddings traditions.

If any one wedding tradition might be said to be indicative of the African continent it would be the importance of family. An African wedding is, more than anything, the bringing together of two people as a single family, or the combining of two families or even the mixture of two tribes into one family unit. The concept of family is one of the unifying ideas of the African continent.

There are more than 1,000 cultural units in Africa and each culture, each tribe has its own wedding and marriage traditions, many of which can trace their origins back hundreds or even thousands of years.

There are also many different religions represented in Africa. Many northern Africans, especially, have been influenced by Muslim traditions, while further south there are more Christian, Hindu, and even Jewish traditions interspersed with more ancient traditions.

In many places in Africa young girls are trained to be good wives from an early age. They may even learn secret codes and secret languages that allow them to talk with other married women without their husbands understanding what is being said.

Depending on which part of Africa you are in, wedding ceremonies can be extremely elaborate, some lasting many days. Often huge ceremonies are held during which many couples are united at the same time.

In Sudan and in other areas along the Nile a man must pay his wife’s family in sheep or cattle for the loss of their daughter’s labor in support of the family. A wife may cost a man as many as 30 to 40 head of cattle. Often it is difficult to pay the family yet still have enough cattle left to support his new wife.

In Somalia a man is allowed to have as many as four wives if he can support them all, and it is not uncommon for a girl to be engaged before she is even born.

Bright festive colors, song, dance, and music are vital elements of many African wedding ceremonies. Common to all wedding ceremonies is the concept of transitioning between childhood and adulthood. In many African cultures children are encouraged to marry as young as 13 to 15 years of age, as soon as they have reached physical adulthood.

Divorce is rare in African marriages. Problems in a marriage are often discussed with both families and solutions found. Often entire villages join in to help a couple find solutions to their problems and keep a marriage from failing.

Marriage is sacred the world over, and that is definitely true in Africa, no matter which region or which culture you come from, and no matter what your religious beliefs. In fact, many cultures have a special totem that is designed to remind a couple that cultural and tribal differences must be allowed for in order to make a marriage succeed.