Persian wedding ceremonies are very elaborate festivities in Persian (i.e., Iranian) culture. Similar to the wedding traditions of many cultures, Persian weddings include a wedding centrepiece - the Sofreh ye-Aghd. The Sofreh ye-Aghd is a particularly ornate spread with much cultural and religious significance. Whether you or your spouse are Iranian, or you simply desire to have a traditional Persian wedding, you should be aware of the facts about this beautiful Persian wedding centrepiece.
The Seven Herbs
The Sofreh ye-Aghd centrepiece includes a presentation of seven herbs. The arrangement of the seven herbs is called "Sini-ye Aatel-O-Baatel." It includes poppy seeds ("Khash-Khaash"), wild rice ("Berenj"), angelica ("Sabzi Khoshk"), salt ("Namak"), novella seeds ("Raziyaneh"), black tea ("Chaay"), and frankincense ("Kondor"). The herbs are designed to protect the couple from evil spirits or witchcraft. Three of the herbs play a very specific role in the arrangement; the poppy seeds are presented to break evil spells, the salt is presented to blind the "evil eye" and the frankincense is presented to burn evil spirits.
The Seven Pastries
The Sofreh ye-Aghd centrepiece also includes a presentation of seven pastries. The seven pastries are: Baklava ("Baaghlavaa," a very sweet layered pastry with nuts and syrup), chickpea-flour cookies ("Noon-Nokhodchi"), mulberry-almond paste in mulberry shapes ("Tout"), sugar-dusted almond strip cookies ("Noghl"), rice-flour cookies ("Noon-Berenji"), almond-flour cookies ("Noon-Baadoomi"), and honey-glazed, roasted almonds ("Sohaan A'sali"). The seven pastries are not symbolic; they are simply intended to serve as traditional Persian desserts (like the wedding cake in American wedding tradition).
Mirror of Fate and Two Candelabras
Another very important set of items in the Sofreh ye-Aghd is the Mirror of Fate and Two Candelabras. The Mirror of Fate or "Aayeneh-ye Bakht" is a large, decorated mirror placed in the centre of the Sofreh ye-Aghd spread with one candelabra placed on each side of the mirror. The mirror and candelabras symbolise light, fire and the brightness of the couple's future. The candelabras specifically symbolise the bride and groom. These symbols are important in Zoroastrian culture. During the wedding ceremony, the bride enters the room with her face covered by a veil and sits by the groom. When the groom lifts the bride's veil, the two see each other in the mirror, symbolising their shared look into the future.
There are several other symbolic foods in the Sofreh ye-Aghd. A basket of decorated eggs and a basket of decorated unshelled nuts are included to symbolise fertility. A basket filled with pomegranates and apples are presented to represent divine creation and gifts from Heaven, along with a cup of honey and a bowl made of sugar to symbolise the sweetness of life and the new union. Two hard sugar cones, which are shaved down and sprinkled into a scarf covering the bride and groom, also symbolise sweetness. Lastly, a bread known as "Noon-e Sangak" with a blessing called "Mobaarak-Baad" is included. The blessing is written in calligraphy on the bread using spices (saffron, cinnamon or nigella).
Cashmere fabric and silk lines the table on which the centrepiece is placed. A bowl of Persian rose water is placed on this table to provide a pleasing aroma. A vessel ("Manghal") holding burning coals and sprinkled with incense is included to ward off spirits. Also included are a bowl of gold coins symbolising wealth, a prayer carpet (for Muslims), a holy book such as the Koran, Bible, Torah or Avesta (for Zoroastrians) and a needle with seven strands of coloured thread to symbolise the mother-in-law's lips being sewn to prevent complaints about the wedding.
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