Saturday, April 26, 2008

Persian Wedding

Today we worked on the flowers for the wedding of a beautiful young Persian couple from San Francisco. The traditions are exquisite and focus primarily on the Sofreh. The Sofreh and the items placed upon it have deep symbolic meanings. The wedding vows are taken at the Sofreh in the presence of the bride and groom’s parents, family members and close friends.
The most significant item on the Sofreh is a large central mirror, placed directly in front of where the bride and groom sit, before taking their vows. It is large enough that the bride and groom can see both of themselves in it. It also allows for all the gathered guests 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. In our photo, you can see Orchids reflected in the mirror, which were one of two larger arrangements placed behind the Sofreh.
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 symbolistic of the Zoroastrian faith. The sun was the source of all energy and candles represent the sun and its energy.
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. The sweetness of life is represented in many items including, a bowl of crystallized sugar, 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. 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.

Termeh is a traditional Persian embroidered cloth, generally having the paisley design. It is used to decorate the Sofreh and symbolizes tradition. A tray of esphand (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 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 has a wonderful smell. A small bowl of coins is also placed on the sofreh representing wealth, a tray of fresh assorted traditional herbs, and a small bowl of apples.

Congratulations to our Bride and Groom, and best wishes for a lifetime of happiness together!

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