Friday, December 5, 2008

Wedding: Iranian Style

I am not much of a "wedding" person!

Like many Iranian girls, my parents were in rush to get me married when I was 21! I married an exceptional man; whom I barely knew; but on whom I had a crush since I was a kid. A man of charisma, courage and great intelligence; and 'proper heritage', which was the only condition set by my family.

But I had a condition of my own:

That I shall not have a wedding; and that I should remain 'free'.

Many years have passed; and I am still married, the man is getting more charismatic, more courageous and his intelligence and good name are always there, and I am almost unimaginably free!

To me the whole wedding ceremony is appalling; the dress, the rituals, the gifts, the kisses, the dissatisfactions, the gossip, the so called "romance on display". I could not go through with THAT. To my mother's disbelief, that her first child would be married off like a homeless, through her tears, and with nothing in my marriage contract but an "apple", to be given to me by my to-be husband, should the marriage not work, I left my Papa's house! Almost two decades later; I am still proud of what I did!

I invite you to share with me your opinions and your stories. We are all anonymous here, so I am curious to hear what people really think about the significance of marriage and particularly the 'wedding' ceremony in their lives, in the society, in the aesthetics of culture, in folk tradition and etc ...

I like to hear your stories!


Gail said...

Hi Naj-

Fascinting telling of your "free" wedding and marriage. What did the apple signify to you? I love how you describe your man. He sounds wonderful and so do you.

Our vow ceremony was quite an evnt. We wrote a "program" which honored Christianity, Judaism and Native American Indian, together we are all of those. We had the celebration outside in our yard, circled by torches and flowers under the big tree. People close to us read various readings. We sang songs, some my man wrote for me and others such as "In My Life" and "Let There Be Peace On Earth". It was an amazing day of love and truth and celebration. Almost two decades later he is still my guy and I am his girl. Our home is peaceful and filled with love and laughter and music and calm. We have weathered many storms and we are ever stronger.

I hope I didn't go on too much,


betmo said...

we had a non denominational wedding in a non denominational church that we picked out of the phone book because it was around the corner from where we lived. sigh. hubby wanted a church wedding- so we did. it was nice and i refused to say obey. i wanted to just elope. to us- the marriage is more important than the ceremony- and we paid for it and planned it ourselves. i wasn't going to have interference. i was not happy that we had to include his parents in the guest list- i just refused to invite any of my extended family. no, i am not a crab- i just don't feel you should pay for people to come who 1) you don't have a relationship with and 2) you don't like.

personally, i believe in marriage but not in the way that the ceremonies have gone crazy. take a peek at any of those wedding shows on tv- my fair wedding, bridezillas, etc., and think about the amount of money spent- and it's ridiculous. especially since most end in divorce within the first 2 years. my thought- spend less thought on the ceremony and more on the person you are marrying. it has been 12 years of marriage for hubby and i and we were together 4 years before that. :) and we are pretty happy.

and i must say- good for you!!!

Pedestrian said...

What an interesting topic Naj :-)
You and your partner sound like a really cool couple :-)

I'm going to talk forever ;-)

I was never the person to dream about my wedding - ever. And I always assumed that if I did get married, it would be well into my 30s, the way my parents wanted ... But it happened ...

What I always did want to do was have my Iranian "sofreh" ... I LOVE arts and crafts and all that stuff ... And I had a splendid time planning the sofreh for months. Buying velvet and ribbon, deciding on flower arrangements, and every single last one of the bowls/plates that would go on there.

I wanted to have it at home, with only those people whom I loved ...

And it turned out beautifully ... Exactly the way I imagined it.

I love the Iranian wedding ceremony - and that meaning the "aghd" and not the reception ... which has taken on extremely twisted forms especially in the last few years.

I could go on for another 10 pages telling you about the outrageous things girls/boys my age are doing ...

But I'm not sure you'll be interested. ;-)
That's another day, and another cup of coffee ...

BTW, if you're ever in the Toronto area, give me a ring! :D

Naj said...

Thank you my dear friends. Please don't cut yourselves short and say as much and as little as you want. I am fascinated by these stories!


Naj said...

Forgot to answer this:
Apple: the first sin with which I think we became humans.

Emad - Travel Blog said...

Hi! I really enjoyed such posts from an Iranian guy in English. I had this passion to introduce Iran to foreigners, so I created a weblog few years ago called Iran Travel Blog. plz take a look: . I will put your link in my blog soon, and appreciate if you do so. plz keep in touch.
regards, Emad

Gene said...

Ah! Weddings! I suppose it depends whether one sees that as an individual ritual (an oxymoron, I agree but I guess you know what I'm trying to say here) or a clan one. At that point in time, to me weddings were a 'clan ritual' and I did not mind that all the family participated. Besides I was much too young to care about such things. I had a rather wild wedding in that my partner and I had to obtain three (!) dispensations (roughly means that the Church agrees to bypass some particular rule): I was under-age; we were of different religion (he was Anglican and I was Roman Catholic); and we were first cousins!

Like you though, he's the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with since I was very young. I could have done that without the ceremony. It does not hold any significant meaning for me. It was just another rite of passage, I guess. I'm just not a 'ritual' person. I'll go through it more not to offend other people than because I want to personally.

I hope I've not said more than I would want to here :-)

Naj said...

Gene, no not at all you haven't said nearly enough!

You bring up an interesting point; first cousin's marriage!

In Iran, it used to be the norm! I hear it's changing now! It was the norm for two reasons:

1) "Clan"destiny; as people would want to marry someone whose heritage and background would be close; so to keep the wealth or poverty to themselves.

2) lack of opportunity for young men and women to encounter 'outside' and fall in love.

My parents are totally unrelated; and I remember for years i kept hearing that 'X' married a 'stranger', stranger being my father. I am grateful my mother did; no one in her cousins or relatives (and she has at least 800) is nearly as handsome and humane as my dad is!

But, both sets of my grandparents were cousins!

I remember having had crushes on various second cousins myself; depending on which summer we spent with whom! But all my male first cousins are at least 15 years younger than me, so I had to fall in love with the neighbor's son, who was ten years older than me, and who left Iran during the war, when I was 14 ... thus they had to "ship me" to him overseas :)

littleindian said...

we went away for the weekend with friends and some relatives to get married.
different race, different religion.

we rented a minibus - took turns to drive the 10 hour journey - picking up our guests.

got married the next morning.
it was drizzling in the morning. we all walked 10 minutes from the b&b to the registrar's office.

we took our vows - I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes while making my vows.

when we came out the sun was shining. our wedding photos were on the side of a loch.

after the reception we all went for a walk - and found a childrens park - with slides, see-saw and roundabouts. :-D

the next day we drove back home. guests and all.

that was 15 years ago - on a tiny village on scotland's isle of skye

nunya said...

I have had seven men ask me to marry them. Surprised? Yeah, me too, I ain't all that and a bag of chips. I do cook, clean, I'm loyal, and until this putz wore me down and sucked all the joy out of me, I had a playful, funny side. I also won't put them in the poor house with bills for my clothing, furniture, drugs, alcohol or other useless stuff. If they want a trophy wife, I'm not it. If they want $ saved for important stuff, I'm it. Guys are pretty simple creatures. This one more than most.

I picked munber seven because I was over 40 and had a teenaged girl who I knew he wouldn't touch, but would help in any way he could. He pretty much raised her since she was 5 and nobody was beating down his door to have kids with him, so she's it as far as kids for him. He's paying for her college. 15 years I've put up with his stupid ass and two more to go. I'm not a patient special ed teacher, I'll tell ya that much. How many times do I have to tell someone to do something that they agreed to do, like empty the fucking trash? This is a chore. I never wanted to be married and in 5 years of it I can say that the one benefit of it is me managing the money, 'cause he sucks at that. He never had savings before.

Naj said...

Little Indian,

Ypu are a living poem, aren't you? How a doctor can be as sensitive as you are beats me :)


I am sure the number of people knocking on your door is going to go up now! :)

Listening to you guys; I feel I really don't know what marriage is. I think for me, marriage was something i HAD to do, because otherwise I wouldn't be able to live with my husband/boy friend/whatever ...

Our vows were exchanged "for" us by a Lebanese man, in Arabic, as we got married outside Iran! And during the vow exchange, which was uttered in Arabic, of which I understood nothing, I just kept pushing down my giggles, as my artistic sister in law was trying to get herself into a position of picture-taking, and in so doing was messing up the mosque office; the guy had to stop and ask her to "be quiet please!" And then I really laughed ...
I think this is what happens when you have 21 year old girls believe that they are mature enough to marry!

Well sure, I wasn't an air headed girl; and I was more mature than many 40 year old women I knew around me; but ... for me the "romance" of my marriage was to avoid the wedding and to not ask 5000 gold coins ... but an apple!

Now I am adding a bit to that apple condition:

MacIntosh apple please! :)

Anonymous said...

Shame, shame, shame...

You disparged a beautiful ceremony out of a pointless rebelliousness and yet you sing praises of Iranian culture. Just which part of that culture you like?

No wonder the Iranian people have been so disappointed with their so-called roshan-fikrs.

pen Name

Naj said...

Pen name, I see you are still not cured of your grumpiness! ;)

Maybe you care to share your 'beautiful' experience?

littleindian said...

Living poem!!
Not really, always been the footnote.

Doctor cannot be sensitive? they are humans too you know. Well most of them. Some atleast.

I never wanted to be a doctor. But I do not have regrets. I have the opportunity to meet 40-50 individuals everyday. Each unique in their own way. It helps me understand human nature and minds. Everyday is an experience, everyday has a lesson to learn.

Naj said...

"most of them" :)
I like that!

I never have imagined how life as a doctor can be ... what I see around me scares me. I cannot imagine confronting people's pain.

That, together with the fact that I have no NMDA receptors precluded me from ever wanting to become a doctor! Doing Algebra was much easier! (And I always almost failed chemistry!) :))

goatman said...

In our culture, marriage is for the bride for the most part. Family is next and must be considered by the bride if she deems a wedding not necessary to her. It is a required legal detail in order to obtain status; as one is proxy for the other. If not married I would not be able to visit my girl in the hospital as family only are allowed and I would have no say in medical procedures. And she would not inherit my assets unless I specifically gave that in witnessed writing.
Frankly speaking, at least in US, marriage should take 2 years and divorce 2 weeks. But that is a different subject.

By the bye, what do you think of henna trims?

Naj said...

hi Goatman,

well in Iran, weddings take a couple of months and divorces a couple of years or decades! :)

What're henna trims?